Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, writer, and possessed by cats

Tag: Mad Genius Club (Page 1 of 4)

Tuesday morning thoughts

It’s going to be a short post this morning, mainly because I’m blogging at Mad Genius Club today. Go check the post out. I talk about Books-a-Million and their indie publishing print platform as well as some of the changes over on the KDP side of things.

The other day, I posted a brief snippet of what I thought might turn out to be the opening to Nocturnal Rebellion, the next book in the Nocturnal Lives series. I’ll be honest. I had hoped by writing the scene, the muse would be satisfied and let me finish the final tweaking on Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2). But noooo, the book has taken hold and the muse is demanding my attention. So, it looks like the next couple of weeks will see me splitting my time between the two. Fortunately, all that is needed on Dagger is minor tweaking and the final check of the print file before taking the book life. For now, however, the e-book is available for pre-order and, hopefully, the print book will be ready to go by the time the e-book goes live.

If Rebellion continues as it started, it is going to be a roller coaster ride. When I started figuring out the plot for the book several months ago, it did not look anything like what is happening now. Of course, as I’ve said before, my muse is an evil bitch and she is loving not only throwing me for a loop with the book but also in not letting me know what is happening more than a few pages ahead at a time. So far, it’s working — or so my alpha readers have said. Well, they also told me I had to keep writing it, so I guess something is working right.

Now I’m off to find another cup of coffee — idiot dog and BratCat decided 0430 was a wonderful time to get me up. It didn’t matter that I disagreed. Sigh.

Later!

Monday morning, oh how I loathe thee

This is the morning so many employers dread. Super Bowl Monday. The day when employees drag in, suffering from too little sleep, too much over-indulgence and either too much bragging because their team won or too much angsting because their team lost. Those who supported the Falcons — or at least wanted to see the Pats lose — might admit it was a great game, especially the last few minutes. But, there is still the fact the Falcons lost after holding a 21+ point lead at one point, something no other team has done in history. So, Falcon supporters have ruffled feathers, adding to the Monday morning blues.

As for me, I started the day off much too early — thank you, BratCat — and have already been to PT. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am firmly convinced physical therapists are frustrated sadists in their private lives and they take it out on their clients. All I can say right now is OUCH!

Which is also sort of what I’m feeling right now about my muse. Myrtle has never been an easy muse to live with. But, right now, she is taking great glee in causing me problems. Normally, when I finish a project, I need a week or so to recharge the batteries and get the new novel’s “voice” in my head. Except this time, Myrtle has different plans. I’m not officially finished with Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2). Sure, it’s up for pre-order. Yay!. But there are still a few tweaks that need to be made and I need to finish the print set-up because I’m not happy with how it looked when I did it earlier. But is Myrtle letting me do it? Nooooo.

As you saw yesterday, she has ambushed me with the next Nocturnal Lives opening scene. Except now it is scenes. And, let me tell you, the book is already throwing me for a loop. Not only because I hadn’t planned on it being the next book I wrote but because of how it starts off. Worse, as I think I said yesterday, I don’t know where this is going. Myrtle is hiding more than the next few pages from me. Sigh, someone come take my muse on vacation for a week or so. Hell, I’d be happy if you’d just take her out for drinks and let her spend the night with you.

Why do I feel like Rodney Dangerfield right now when he would joke, “Take my wife — please”?

I guess I don’t need to sleep.

One more thing before I head off to do some work — after finding coffee. If you haven’t read Dave Freer’s Mad Genius Club post today, do so. He hits it out of the part with this post.

Something to keep your mind occupied

This morning, when I turned on the news, one of the local medical reporters was talking about how everyone’s stress level was going to be up today. Her suggestion was to find something to do, something you enjoyed, and to stay away from social media, etc. Well, I’m all for doing my civic duty so here is a list of some of the books the Mad Genius Club have published. (Okay, I’ll grab at any excuse to do a promo post. VBEG)

Dave Freer:

TOM

Tom is a cat in trouble. The worst possible kind of trouble: he’s been turned into a human. Transformed by an irascible old magician in need of a famulus — a servant and an assistant, Tom is as good at being a servant as a cat ever is. The assistant part is more to Tom’s taste: he rather fancies impressing the girl cats and terrorizing the other toms by transforming himself into a tiger. But the world of magic, a vanished and cursed princess, and a haunted skull, and a demon in the chamber-pot, to say nothing of conspiring wizards and the wickedest witch in the west, all seem to be out to kill Tom. He is a cat coming to terms with being a boy, dealing with all this. He has a raven and a cheese as… sort of allies.

And of course there is the princess.

If you were looking for ‘War and Peace’ this is the wrong book for you. It’s a light-hearted and gently satirical fantasy, full of terrible puns and… cats.

*

Changeling’s Island (Baen)

Tim Ryan can’t shake the feeling that he is different from other teens, and not in a good way. For one thing, he seems to have his own personal poltergeist that causes fires and sets him up to be arrested for shoplifting.

As a result Tim has been sent to live on a rundown farm on a remote island off the coast of Australia with his crazy grandmother, a woman who seems to talk to the local spirits, and who refuses to cushion Tim from facing his difficulties. To make matters worse, Tim is expected to milk cows, chase sheep, and hunt fish with a spear.

But he’s been exiled to an island alive with ancient magic—land magic that Tim can feel in his bones, and sea magic that runs in his blood. If Tim can face down the danger from drug runners, sea storms, and the deadly threat of a seal woman who wishes to steal him away for a lingering death in the land of Faery, he may be able to claim the mysterious changeling heritage that is his birthright, and take hold of a legacy of power beyond any he has ever imagined.

Amanda S. Green:

Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1)

War is coming. The peace and security of the Ardean Imperium is threatened from within and without. The members of the Order of Arelion are sworn to protect the Imperium and enforce the Codes. But the enemy operates in the shadows, corrupting where it can and killing when that fails. Fallon Mevarel, knight of the Order of Arelion, carried information vital to prevent civil war from breaking out. Cait was nothing, or so she had been told. She was property, to be used and abused until her owner tired of her. What neither Cait nor Fallon knew was that the gods had plans for her, plans that required Fallon to delay his mission. Plans within plans, plots put in motion long ago, all converge on Cait. She may be destined for greatness, but only if she can stay alive long enough.

*

Witchfire Burning (Eerie Side of the Tracks Book 1)

Long before the Others made their existence known to the world, Mossy Creek was their haven. Being from the wrong side of the tracks meant you weren’t what the rest of the world considered “normal”.

Normal was all Quinn O’Donnell wanted from life. Growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks”, she had been the only normal in the family. The moment she was old enough, she left and began life as far from her Texas hometown as possible. Now she has a job she enjoys and a daughter she loves more than life itself. Their life is normal, REALLY normal, until her daughter starts calling forth fire and wind.

Quinn knows they must go back so her mother can help five-year-old Ali learn how to control her new talents. But in Mossy Creek nothing is ever simple. Quinn’s mother has gone missing. Secrets from Quinn’s past start coming back to haunt her.

And the family home is more than a little sentient.

Can Quinn keep everyone — particularly Ali — safe? And will she ever get back her illusion of normalcy?

Sarah A. Hoyt:

Dragon Blood: A Collection of Short Stories

From the trenches of WWI where the Red Baron just can’t help turning into a dragon, to the desert sands of a future world where humans have become something else, from a coffee shop between worlds where magicians gather, to a place where your worst nightmare can love you, let Dragon Blood take you on a series of fantastic adventures.

With an introduction by Pam Uphoff.

This collection contains the stories: Rising Above, From Out The Fire, Yellow Tide Foam, Hot, The Blood Like Wine,The Least Of These Little Ones,
Scraps Of Fog,Something Worse Hereafter,The Littlest Nightmare,Dragon Blood

*

Through Fire (Darkship Book 4)

Against all odds, spaceship mechanic Zen Sienna finds herself in a fairytale palace, being courted by the ruler of vast lands. But when revolution erupts and heads start to roll, Zen finds that the life of a storybook princess is not be all fancy balls and happy endings. Swept up in a whirlwind of fire and blood, Zen must earn her citizenship on Earth and find her place in a world on the brink of revolution.

Kate Paulk:

ConVent (The Vampire Con Series Book 1)

A vampire, a werewolf, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. Whoever picked this team to save the world wasn’t thinking of sending the very best. But then, since this particular threat to the universe and everything good is being staged in science fiction conventions, amid people in costume, misfits and creative geniuses, any convetional hero would have stood out. Now Jim, the vampire, and his unlikely sidekicks have to beat the clock to find out who’s sacrificing con goers before all hell breaks loose — literally.

ConVent is proof that Kate Paulk’s brain works in wonderfully mysterious ways. A sarcastic vampire, his werewolf best buddy, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. The “Save the world” department really messed it up this time.

*

Impaler

Impaler by Kate Paulk revisits the tale of Vlad Dracul, also known as Vlad Tepes and Vlad the Impaler. This is the tale of historical fact mixed with fiction and a touch of fantasy. But this is most definitely not the tired tale of vampires skulking in the night, lying in wait for innocent victims. Impaler tells the tale of a man devoted to family and country, cursed and looking for redemption. December, 1476. The only man feared by the all-conquering Ottoman Sultan battles to reclaim his throne. If he falls all of Europe lies open to the Ottoman armies. If he succeeds… His army is outnumbered and outclassed, his country is tiny, and he is haunted by a terrible curse. But Vlad Draculea will risk everything on one almost impossible chance to free his people from the hated Ottoman Empire.

Jason Cordova:

Kraken Mare

Sergeant John Manning was a simple Marine who liked spicy foods, big guns, and even bigger explosions- so long as those guns and explosions weren’t pointed in his direction.

When offered a well-paying job after being unceremoniously drummed out of his beloved Corps on a medical discharge, he jumped at the opportunity for good money and the prospects of a bright future. For the first time in recent memory, John had a chance at life.

Then his life turned into a horror movie.

The secret research station hidden on the moon of Titan was not just any government facility. It harbored dark secrets and frightening realities. The scientists here have not only studied more than just the local fauna, but have discovered something far more important. A discovery which would shock the very foundations of the universe. Something out of a nightmare.

The depths of Kraken Mare hid a horrifying truth, and the unwitting Marine stumbled right into it.

Pam Uphoff:

A Tale of Three Interns (The Directorate Book 2)

#2 in the The Directorate series

A Novella.

Ebsa, Paer and Ra’d have survived their first year at the Directorate School. No doubt this summer internship will be boring. It’s not like they’d let them do anything dangerous . . . like assist in a study of dinosaurs.

Peter Grant:

Take The Star Road (The Maxwell Saga Book 1)

Nineteen-year-old Steve Maxwell just wants to get his feet on the star road to find a better homeworld. By facing down Lotus Tong thugs, he earns an opportunity to become a spacer apprentice on a merchant spaceship, leaving the corruption and crime of Earth behind. Sure, he needs to prove himself to an older, tight-knit crew, but how bad can it be if he keeps his head down and the decks clean?

He never counted on the interstellar trade routes having their own problems, from local wars to plagues of pirates – and the jade in his luggage is hotter than a neutron star. Steve’s left a world of troubles behind, only to find a galaxy of them ahead…

David Pascoe:

Tales of the Unquiet Gods

Unearthly darkness stalks the streets of Manhattan. Glowing eyes haunt forgotten tunnels. In the daylight, inhuman shadows grow ever deeper and … hungry. Six are chosen to confront this gnawing evil, and given help from an unexpected power. Hunting them come walking shadows and fallen godlings, abominations and darkling creations seeking to devour their very souls. Follow a busker, a bouncer, a homeless vet, and a cop as they the battle the darkness without and the despair within, for the fate of the city and the souls of those they love.

Cedar Sanderson:

Jade Star (Tanager Book 1)

Jade is determined to die. She is old, and useless, when she points her tiny subspace craft at the cold stars. She wakes up in the care of others who refuse to grant her death, and instead give her a new mission in life.

Jade isn’t happy, and she only gets angrier when she learns that her mysterious new home hides a horrible secret. It’s time for this old lady to kick butt and take names. Aliens, death, destruction… nothing trumps the fierce old woman who is protecting her family.

A Tanager Novella

*

Pixie Noir (Pixie for Hire Book 1)

You can’t keep a tough Pixie down…

Lom is a bounty hunter, paid to bring magical creatures of all descriptions back Underhill, to prevent war with humans should they discover the strangers amongst them. Bella is about to find out she’s a real life fairy princess, but all she wants to do is live peacefully in Alaska, where the biggest problems are hungry grizzly bears. He has to bring her in. It’s nothing personal, it’s his job…

“They had almost had me, that once. I’d been young and foolish, trying to do something heroic, of course. I wouldn’t do that again anytime soon. Now, I work for duty, but nothing more than is necessary to fulfill the family debt. I get paid, which makes me a bounty hunter, but she’s about to teach me about honor. Like all lessons, this one was going to hurt. Fortunately, I have a good gun to fill my hand, and if I have to go, she has been good to look at.”

Brad Torgersen:

The Chaplain’s War

A Chaplain’s Assistant, serving in Earth’s space fleet, is trapped behind enemy lines where he struggles for both personal survival and humanity’s future.

The mantis cyborgs: insectlike, cruel, and determined to wipe humanity from the face of the galaxy.

The Fleet is humanity’s last chance: a multi-world, multi-national task force assembled to hold the line against the aliens’ overwhelming technology and firepower. Enter Harrison Barlow, who like so many young men of wars past, simply wants to serve his people and partake of the grand adventure of military life. Only, Harrison is not a hot pilot, nor a crack shot with a rifle. What good is a Chaplain’s Assistant in the interstellar battles which will decide the fate of all?

More than he thinks. Because while the mantis insectoids are determined to eliminate the human threat to mantis supremacy, they remember the errors of their past. Is there the slightest chance that humans might have value? Especially since humans seem to have the one thing the mantes explicitly do not: an innate ability to believe in what cannot be proven nor seen God. Captured and stranded behind enemy lines, Barlow must come to grips with the fact that he is not only bargaining for his own life, but the lives of everyone he knows and loves. And so he embarks upon an improbable gambit, determined to alter the course of the entire war.

*

Lights in the Deep

Ten astounding tales by triple award nominee Brad R. Torgersen. Go on fantastic new adventures at the bottom of Earth’s oceans and at the edge of the solar system. Meet humans who are utterly alien and aliens who are all too human. Originally featured in the pages of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine as well as Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, these stories are gathered here for the first time, along with anecdotes and other commentary from the author. Introductions by Stanley Schmidt, Mike Resnick and Allan Cole. Features the stories Ray of Light (2012 Hugo & Nebula nominee), Outbound (2011 Analog Readers Choice Award winner), and Exanastasis (2010 Writers of the Future Award winner).

Cross-posted from Mad Genius Club.

Beginnings

Every time I start a new project, I want to scream. I have the first very rough draft done. (Of late, that means I have probably half of the final word count done but little dialog, scenes that may or may not make the final cut and a lot of editorial notes about what needs to be done.) But the beginning chapter or two have yet to gel. I worry about whether I’m starting the book in the right place, with the right characters and in the proper POV. I swear, sometimes it takes me longer to write the first three chapters than it does the rest of the book.

That is where I’ve been most of the last week with Dagger of Elanna.

Dagger, for those of you not familiar with the series, is the second book in the Sword of the Gods series. The first book, Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1), was a blast to write and I’ve been anxious to get back to the series. Dagger is the second of what I anticipate to be a three book story arc. Unlike Sword, however, Dagger has been fighting me — at least where the opening chapters are concerned.

I know part of the problem has been switching mindsets from military sf to fantasy. But I got past that pretty quickly. No, the problem was a familiar one — doubt about where I was picking up the story. I knew I needed to introduce a new character up front. He would impact the story arc of not only Dagger but potentially the next book as well. But I also have a story thread from Sword that needed to be pulled back in fairly quickly as well. Had I chosen the best way to do both of those things? Or was I, as often happens with authors, starting the story too soon or too late?

The breakthrough finally came over the weekend. With that breakthrough came the words. The story is flowing and I’m loving where it is going. Assuming real life doesn’t interfere too much, the book should be done and up for sale by the end of next month. That means I can get back on schedule with the next Nocturnal Lives book as well as with Victory from Ashes.

I should begin snippets in a week or two. In the meantime, I am writing and editing and loving where this project is headed. I guess I ought to get back to writing. I’ll be back later with a more substantive blog post — but it may be tomorrow. If the writing starts flowing, I don’t want to interrupt it.

Oh, before I go, be sure to check out Dave Freer’s post at Mad Genius Club this morning

If only Mondays could be delayed

There will be a blog later today. I have some errands to run this morning and I need to get some writing done. In the meantime, there are two blog posts, both by fellow MGCers Dave Freer and Dorothy Grant, I’d like to point everyone to.

The first is Dave’s post today. I warn you ahead of time. I am not liable for ruined keyboards or homework or monitors or anything else. This is Dave in full Dr. Monkey mode and I love it. Here’s a small taste:

To save the Puppy Kickers over at file 770 effort and time I would like to accept responsibility on behalf of the Sad Puppies (for whom I neither speak, nor represent, but these details have always been mere trivia to the Puppy Kickers) for Brexit. I figure as it is all going to be our fault anyway, regardless, I may as well accept responsibility now and save us all from the smell of burning of brain-sawdust that they’d have to fill the air with, coming up with convoluted bizarre theories as to why this particular thing is also our fault. You know, we white Mormon men (especially female ones and those who would have to pour on whitewash by the bucket every morning, let alone those poor blokes trying to fake special underwear) plan on world domination, or just untrammeled eeeeevil, and the entire grab-bag of …isms.

For the record we also caused Global Warming, Global Weirding, Oceans rising, Rains of Frogs, Reigns of Frogs, Mondays (my personal contribution), bad hair days and of course George Bush. So everything they used to blame on him is really our fault. And as that took inventing time travel, we’re also responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs (we introduced them to the AR15 and techno music and tobacco, oversized sodas, and those that didn’t die from smoking went mad and shot each other, baring those who exploded because there were no regulations to stop them drinking too much soda – except for the ancestors of the chicken who were too chicken) and everything else, including the heat death of the universe. That happened because I personally forgot to turn the lights off, when the dolphins finally left.

Dorothy has done what I haven’t taken time to yet. She parsed some of the data from the dataguy and Author Earnings and posted it for us. There is a great deal of information and she breaks it down into easily digestible pieces. Check it out.

In the meantime, check out Dave’s latest book.

TOM

Tom is a cat in trouble. The worst possible kind of trouble: he’s been turned into a human. Transformed by an irascible old magician in need of a famulus — a servant and an assistant, Tom is as good at being a servant as a cat ever is. The assistant part is more to Tom’s taste: he rather fancies impressing the girl cats and terrorizing the other toms by transforming himself into a tiger. But the world of magic, a vanished and cursed princess, and a haunted skull, and a demon in the chamber-pot, to say nothing of conspiring wizards and the wickedest witch in the west, all seem to be out to kill Tom. He is a cat coming to terms with being a boy, dealing with all this. He has a raven and a cheese as… sort of allies.

And of course there is the princess.

If you were looking for ‘War and Peace’ this is the wrong book for you. It’s a light-hearted and gently satirical fantasy, full of terrible puns and… cats.

From Peter Grant, Dorothy’s husband:

Brings the Lightning (The Ames Archives Book 1)

When the Civil War ends, where can a former Confederate soldier go to escape the long memories of neighbors who supported the winning side? Where can Johnny Reb go when he can’t go home?

He can go out West, where the land is hard, where there is danger on every side, and where no one cares for whom you fought – only how well you can do it.

Walt Ames, a former cavalryman with the First Virginia, is headed West with little more than a rifle, a revolver, and a pocket full of looted Yankee gold. But in his way stand bushwhackers, bluecoats, con men, and the ever-restless Indians. And perhaps most dangerous of all, even more dangerous than the cruel and unforgiving land, is the temptation of the woman whose face he can’t forget.

When you can’t go home again – go West!

And I haven’t pushed this book recently:

Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1)

War is coming. The peace and security of the Ardean Imperium is threatened from within and without. The members of the Order of Arelion are sworn to protect the Imperium and enforce the Codes. But the enemy operates in the shadows, corrupting where it can and killing when that fails.

Fallon Mevarel, knight of the Order of Arelion, carried information vital to prevent civil war from breaking out. Cait was nothing, or so she had been told. She was property, to be used and abused until her owner tired of her. What neither Cait nor Fallon knew was that the gods had plans for her, plans that required Fallon to delay his mission.

Plans within plans, plots put in motion long ago, all converge on Cait. She may be destined for greatness, but only if she can stay alive long enough.

A Cautionary Tale

(Reposted from Mad Genius Club.)

Update at the bottom of the post.

Yesterday probably had to be the worst day in my life as an indie author. Release days are always nerve-wracking. Will people buy your book? Will they like your book? Or will they say your baby is ugly and laugh like mean girls? All of that paled into nothingness when I woke to find an email from Amazon telling me they had pulled Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) and it would not be on sale until I fixed the issue(s) reported by customers.

Gulp! The book had only been out for hours when the email had been sent. What was wrong?

I scoured the email for an explanation and the only thing it told me was “Metadata & cover image are of “Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3)”, but the ASIN contains “Duty from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 2).”

What?

So, at 0730 I was trying to figure out how in the hell I had managed to upload the wrong file — except nothing I found showed that I had. The only possible explanation I could find was that I had forgotten to do one thing when I copied the legal page from Duty from Ashes to the Honor from Ashes file was change the AISN. The rest of the text was correct — in my upload file but not in the file that was being sent to those kind folks who had pre-ordered my book.

So, I did what any reasonable author would do in that situation: I panicked. I cursed. I even cried a little. But then I pulled up the base file, changed the AISN and re-uploaded it to my account. I also sent an email to Amazon at 0806 to let them know I had done as they asked. Then I blogged over at Nocturnal Lives to let folks know what was going on.

And I waited.

And I waited.

And I waited some more.

And still Honor from Ashes was removed from sale. At one point, you could hit the buy or read for free buttons but you would get an error message. Then the dreaded “this item is under review” language hit the product page.

And the returns continued.

At 1022, I sent another email to KDP to find out what was going on. As with the earlier message, there was silence. Around noon, I went to my dashboard for KDP and sent a message to the help desk, asking for an update, noting that I was losing money and all I could do was tell those who were hitting my boards on Amazon that I had done what had been asked of me but was as much in the dark right now as were they.

I spent the day, gritting my teeth, unable to work, as I watched the returns continue. Fortunately, those who checked the boards, saw what was happening and they, in turn, took to the two one-star reviews to explain what was going on. But the damage has been done. There are now reviews for Honor from Ashes, claiming it is nothing more than a reprint of Duty from Ashes under a different title. Any new readers who might consider buying the book may be run off because of that.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I did finally hear from Amazon at 2238 hrs last night, almost 20 hours after their initial email to me. Again, they alleged I uploaded the wrong file — but did not include the file so I could check it myself. Okay, I can live with that. I don’t like it, but I can live with it. However, there was nothing said about how long it would be until the book was once more available for purchase. (Note, too, that after I uploaded the new file a little after 0800, I received an email from them saying it was “live” at 1242 hrs. It showed on my dashboard as being live. The preview of the book on the product page showed the new file almost instantly. And yet it was still not available for purchase.)

I asked again, how long. So far, I have had no response.

I kept busy on the Amazon boards that deal with the book, answering questions, assuring readers that I had done everything I could and it was in Amazon’s hands. Their frustration over the delay matched my own — and I will be in contact with them when I figure out how to thank them for their patience.

Sleep was fitful last night as a result. Would I wake up this morning to find the book still unavailable? Even if it was finally available, how deep would the damage be? Returns had been taking place all day. Negative reviews were coming in. How would all that impact the first “day”/week sales?

So, when I finally rolled out of bed this morning, I very hesitantly checked email. Sigh. Nothing from Amazon. So I went to the product page, fully expecting to find it still reflecting the fact it was “under review”. Fortunately, it is now “live”. You can buy it or borrow it under the Kindle Unlimited program. Unfortunately, there are now two 1-star reviews. The only saving grace is the 4-star review (leaving an average of 2-stars — GULP!) and comments from those who had been following the boards to the reviewers that they needed to wait until Amazon made the correct file available. I thank each and every one of those fans who responded to those reviews. I hope those reviewers go back and edit their reviews but I’m afraid the damage has been done.

This entire affair has shown the one real fault in the KDP program, whether you are in KDP or KDP select/Unlimited. There is no way to pick up the phone and call them when you first see a problem. You are limited to e-mail. Sure, if the emails go on long enough, they may call you but that doesn’t help in situations like the one I faced where time is of the essence. It has left a sour taste in my mouth, as well as in the mouths of my fans.

Does this mean I will look for an alternative to KDP? No. It is the big dog in the game and moving away from it would be more than counter-productive. It does mean I will be even more careful about my uploads. It means I will continue trying to find out exactly what happened and how to avoid it in the future. Most of all, it means I need to those who read the book and enjoyed it to post positive reviews to counter the negative ones.

In the meantime, I will edit the product description to note that the previous download problems have been corrected. Hopefully, after a week, that will stem the damage that has already occurred. I don’t know.

All I can say is “damn it” and censor myself from saying anything else.

In the meantime, here is the link to the NOW live product page:

Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3)

War isn’t civilized and never will be, not when there are those willing to do whatever is necessary to win. That is a lesson Col. Ashlyn Shaw learned the hard way. Now she and those under her command fight an enemy determined to destroy their home world. Worse, an enemy lurks in the shadows, manipulating friend and foe alike.

Can Ashlyn hold true to herself and the values of her beloved Corps in the face of betrayal and loss? Will honor rise from the ashes of false promises and broken faith? Ashlyn and the Devil Dogs are determined to see that it does, no matter what the cost.

UPDATE: If you downloaded the book as a result of pre-ordering it, please confirm that you have the corrected version. It appears that some people have not automatically received it. Check your settings (Manage My Devices and Content/Settings) to see if you have automatic updates turned on. If not, you may need to delete the file from your device — NOT your account — and re-download. If that doesn’t work, contact Amazon and let me know. Amazon should respond quickly and get you the correct file. If not, I need to know. Thanks!

TANSTAAFL

I was sitting here, listening to the local news on talk radio (What can I say? The current wip requires talk radio.) when a soundbite had me seriously contemplating tossing the laptop through the window. Someone was explaining why he was going to vote for Bernie Sanders. His main reason was simple. He is a father and he’s going to vote for Bernie so his kids can have a free college education.

At that point, two things happened at once. I stopped — barely — before I grabbed the laptop and tossed it through the window and I wanted to bang my head against the wall. Following close behind those was a voice in my mind chanting “TANSTAAFL! TANSTAAFL!”

You see, that’s the problem I have with a lot of those who are so enamored with Bernie. They love hearing that their taxes will be decreased — or done away with — while those of the “Wall Street speculators” would go up. They love the idea of their children going to college without having to pay tuition. They embrace student loans without interest. What they don’t do is stop long enough to think critically about the promise of free education, even if only for state universities, and whether or not it would really be free.

Hence the chanting of “TANSTAAFL” in my mind.

For those unfamiliar with it, TANSTAAFL stands for “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” You’ll find the acronym in Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.

“Gospodin,” he said presently, “you used an odd word earlier–odd to me, I mean…”

“Oh, ‘tanstaafl.’ Means ~There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.’ And isn’t,” I added, pointing to a FREE LUNCH sign across room, “or these drinks would cost half as much. Was reminding her that anything free costs twice as much in long run or turns out worthless.”

“An interesting philosophy.”

“Not philosophy, fact. One way or other, what you get, you pay for.”

So, if Bernie manages to get elected and manages to get Congress to go along with forcing state universities to offer free tuition and if the states go along and not take the federal government to court and if, when doing so, the courts back the feds and not the states — whew, already there are a lot of “ifs” for the program to overcome, aren’t there? — where do the Sanders supporters think the money is going to come from? Someone is going to have to pay for it. After all, colleges have to pay for their buildings and programs, pay their instructors, pay their bills, maintain their facilities, etc., etc., etc. That’s a lot of money and there isn’t an alumni association around that can step in and fill the void of loss of tuition from students.

So where would the money come from?

According to the Sanders camp, it will come by “imposing a tax on Wall Street Speculators”. But who are these speculators? They are those “who nearly destroyed the economy seven years ago.” Okay, I can see how some would stand up and applaud that statement. It’s a pretty safe bet to say there are few who like what happened back then. Yet, the statement is also very vague. So let’s look further at what the Bernie site says.

“If the taxpayers of this country could bailout Wall Street in 2008, we can make public colleges and universities tuition free and debt free throughout the country.”

Hmm, now it’s even more vague. “Taxpayers.” That’s like “speculators”. Hot button words without definition. No one wants to think they might fall into either when it comes to who would have their taxes increased to cover this new “free” tuition. But let’s face facts, it sounds good but the reality is taxes will be increased. Anyone who happened to have been invested in the stock market falls under “speculators”. Do they fall under who Bernie means? Probably not but when you look at his website, a case could be made for either side.

What bothers me is those who embrace his promises without looking at what the potential impact of them would be. Free college tuition means taxes will have to be raised. Much of the monies for state universities come from — wait for it — state funds, raised by state taxes in one form or another. Now you have a presidential candidate telling states not only that he wants to do away with tuition at those universities but that the federal government will have an even bigger say in how those universities are run because the state will be forced to accept more government monies to keep the doors open.

Sorry, Bernie, but there are things the Feds need to keep their hands out of.

Then there is the very real possibility that, no matter what Bernie wants, the tax load for this move would fall on taxpayers like you and me. Tell me now that the tuition is free when my taxes and yours go up to cover the costs. Even if it doesn’t fall to our tax bill, what happens if you raise the taxes on these so-called speculators? It increases their monetary output. That means they, understanding how business and economics work, will pass that increase on to their customers. High priced goods and services will result. Again, that passes the bill for the so-called free tuition on to you and me.

How is that a “free” education?

Just because you don’t have to write a check for something, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is free.

At best, Bernie wants to pass the cost of someone’s education on to others. Tell me this, do you really want to help foot the bill for someone who wants to get a degree in something that has no real world application and little to no hope of helping that person land a job? Do you want to help foot the bill for someone who doesn’t know what they want to do with their life when the grow up? Beyond all that, do you want to have to pay, through taxes and fees, for the court costs that will happen when and if the Feds try to enforce this on state schools?

So, for all those who love Bernie because he’s promising freebies — and, in doing so, promising a redistribution of wealth — ask yourselves what the real impact on you will be. Look beyond what he says and down the line of “if you do A, then B will follow.” Are you willing to pay the consequences, short and long term for such actions?

***

I’m blogging today at Mad Genius Club. Please take a moment and check out that post.

And to prove i’m a proud capitalist, here’s some promotion for a couple of good friends as well as for myself. Here are three books for your consideration.

The first is Changeling’s Island (Baen) by Dave Freer.

Teenager Tim Ryan comes into his own as he faces danger on a remote Australia island where magic lurks in land and sea.

Tim Ryan can’t shake the feeling that he is different from other teens, and not in a good way.  For one thing, he seems to have his own personal poltergeist that causes fires and sets him up to be arrested for shoplifting.

As a result Tim has been sent to live on a rundown farm on a remote island off the coast of Australia with his crazy grandmother, a woman who seems to talk to the local spirits, and who refuses to cushion Tim from facing his difficulties. To make matters worse, Tim is expected to milk cows, chase sheep, and hunt fish with a spear.

But he’s been exiled to an island alive with ancient magic—land magic that Tim can feel in his bones, and sea magic that runs in his blood. If Tim can face down the danger from drug-runners, sea storms, and the deadly threat of a seal woman who wishes to steal him away for a lingering death in the land of Faery, he may be able to claim the mysterious changeling heritage that is his birthright, and take hold of a legacy of power beyond any he has ever imagined.

Officially out today, although I know it started shipping before now. 

Next up is Sword And Blood (Vampire Musketeers Book 1) by Sarah A. Hoyt.

The France of the Musketeers has changed. Decades ago, someone opened a tomb in Eastern Europe, and from that tomb crawled an ancient horror, who in turn woke others of its kind.

Now Paris is beset by vampires, the countryside barren and abandoned. The Cardinal has become a vampire, the church is banned, the king too cowed to fight.

Until now, the three Musketeers, Athos, Porthos and Aramis have stood as a bulwark against the encroaching evil, their swords defending the innocent and helpless.

But last night, in a blood mass, Athos was turned into a Vampire. And a young vampire orphan has just arrived from Gascony: Monsieur D’Artagnan.

Things are about to get… complicated.

Today is the “official” release date.

Finally, Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) by yours truly, written under the pen name Sam Schall, is available for pre-order.

War isn’t civilized and never will be, not when there are those willing to do whatever is necessary to win. That is a lesson Col. Ashlyn Shaw learned the hard way. Now she and those under her command fight an enemy determined to destroy their home world. Worse, an enemy lurks in the shadows, manipulating friend and foe alike.

Can Ashlyn hold true to herself and the values of her beloved Corps in the face of betrayal and loss? Will honor rise from the ashes of false promises and broken faith? Ashlyn and the Devil Dogs are determined to see that it does, no matter what the cost.

Release date for Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) is April 18th.

 

On Teacher’s Kids, and Hugos (reblogged from Mad Genius Club)

I had planned to blog today but my Mad Genius Club cohort, Dave Freer, posted something today that I feel needs to be spread far and wide. So I am reblogging his Mad Genius Club post. I may be back later with another post. If not, I will be back tomorrow. In the meantime, read and enjoy.

On Teacher’s Kids, and Hugos by Dave Freer

Now, I was a teacher’s kid – a child at the same school my mother taught at. Teachers’ kids tend to meet other teachers’ kids. I’ve never heard any one of them have this experienced any differently, so I would guess it is pretty universal: besides it makes sense. Authority is assumed to bias in favor of its own (whether children, or friends, or merely those like themselves). It is a perception which needs no proof – but needs a lot constant visible evidence to counter. If you’re a sensible teacher who loves their child, you make sure there are no signs of favoritism, and in fact are harsher and less trusting with them, than other kids. If you’re the kid… no matter how much you love your mother or father the teacher, you do not ever show this affection or close bond at school. In fact, if you’re smart, you’re a somewhat naughty brat, and get in trouble with the authorities (the teachers) – worse trouble than the other kids doing the same thing.

Because it is about perceptions, and credibility.

The same is true of competitions or governments. Your friend or cousin Freddie might have the best picture in the show, or might really be the best man for the lucrative government job… but if you want to have any credibility, any trust, any value… you can show no favoritism as the authority. You have to actively display bias against Freddy.

If your foes start saying you’re being a bit harsh on Freddy, you’re doing it right.

They trust you, you have credibility. Your prize (be it the Hugo or the Toronga Junior Prep art prize) is worth having. Your government is an asset, not a predatory liability.

That trust is a hard won.

And very easily lost.

Regaining it is twice as hard, if not impossible.

Now after the Hugos last year, a cabal centered on the site ‘Making Light’ asked for the Hugo Nomination data.

Making Light is essentially the mouthpiece of Tor Editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden and his wife Theresa. Tor as a company are financially affected by the outcome of various awards, they appear to be rapidly moving toward being the leading literary sf/fantasy publisher. Literary sf is really the only part of the genre positively affected in any major way by awards.  Many of participants in the site are at least in some way beneficiaries of grace-and-favor from Tor. Making Light was the site on which PNH revealed knowing the outcome of the Hugo Novel category nominations while the result were embargoed, making either the Hugo administrators to be dishonest and unethical (having informed someone with no right to know and a financial interest), or himself part of some form of corruption. It is thus established it is not a disinterested group, or one with a good reputation for ethical behavior. Among them are the prime suspects in the orchestrated media smear against the Sad Puppies last year in which they got libeled as racists, sexists and homophobes. This was retracted (as it was a provably false libel) but mysteriously popped up in other publications. Where possible we tracked back the linkages, and yes, it’s a very interconnected group, and those having both the motive and the opportunity for this are rare.  They’re also plainly the teacher’s kids. We have public statements on file from Kevin Standlee, saying what a friend PNH was and asset Tor was.

The people from Making Light wanted the data to test a new voting scheme going by the acronym EPH.

Everyone else out there thought releasing the anonymized data would be a great idea. On the puppy side of the table, we wanted to see if there was evidence that cabals (such as the group centered on ‘Making Light’) were conspiring to do in secret what the puppies had done in public (which it seems is supported by the evidence laid out in here). Now, there is nothing illegal about voting in concert or as a block. To do so in secret – and then to be outraged because others do so in public is, to put it mildly, hypocritical, especially if you have financial interest in the outcome.

The Hugo administrators for Sasquan refused. They cited the fact that it was impossible to sufficiently anonymize the data to avoid breach of privacy rules.

Which was irritating, but their decision to take. I took it as the teacher protecting their kids’ secret little slate. This is always the problem that authorities face with people they are known to favor. They bring their actions under suspicion of bias very easily.

Fast forward to this year. To File 770. Where Jameson Quinn – one of the Making Light cabal plotting to institute EPH announces that he and Bruce Schneier have been given the anonymized data, and tested it. Incidentally (because he’s not too bright, it seems) he announces that there is a weak correlation between the non-puppy nominations and what was nominated, but that this was much stronger in the puppies and what they nominated. Now, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that, without knowing the ‘secret slates’ Quinn and Schneier could not separate voters for those cabals from other voters. So: if a ‘weak’ correlation shows up with ALL of the data, there is a high probability that indeed, there was secret concert voting by some. After all, the pattern of ‘you nominate mine, I’ll nominate yours’ is well known and documented from the Nebula Awards, before they anonymized that nomination process. It may well still go on, but it is harder to see. Many of the same authors come up in Hugo nominations, which should be unlikely. The one is supposed to be a peer award, the other a fan award.

Which leads us to: how did Quinn and Schneier get data which was not available to everyone because giving it to anyone breached voter confidentiality and privacy rules? I don’t know either from Adam  — but Quinn & Schneier came from a group which has a questionable reputation, has a financial interest in the outcome of the Hugos. Unless they are babes-in-wood those who provided the data to Quinn and Schneier knew that they were not people who could be considered neutral by a substantial number of the people whose data they were handing over. The two ‘researchers’ also knew full well they were not considered neutral or trusted: Quinn posts on File 770, another well-known anti-puppy site.

As previously announced, it was determined that the data was unable to be sufficiently anonymized for a general release, so the researchers were provided data under a non-disclosure agreement.”

I see. A non-disclosure agreement… with a pair of ‘researchers’ from a partisan group with a questionable reputation and a financial interest. In secret.

My, that looks REALLY ethical. And no one spoke up. Not one of the Hugo Admins involved went public. Even those who objected… thought if they kept quiet, they’d get away with it. I see. Rather like: “I complained to him when he was molesting the little girl, I tried to get him to stop, but he did it anyway, and I didn’t go to the cops, because he was one of us.” My word! We can TRUST you after that. You would never permit anyone to diddle the system for their favorites.

And Jameson Quinn promptly breached their non-disclosure agreement. Well, what did you expect? Rules are for little people. They’re hoping for publication in a journal. I suggest they target the Huffington Post. Or Mother Jones, and even those might balk at this. Having breached a NDA makes it unpublishable. So does having data which cannot be independently assessed and verified. The ethical standards required by almost every reputable Institution make the use of confidential data without consent… pretty much a fire-able offence, let alone being able to use it in a publication. “Do you want fries with that?” is a phrase I would start practicing, were I a ‘researcher’ of this caliber. Or go into Social ‘science’.

I liked this this comment by Brian Z – which summed up effectively my feelings on the matter.

“I find it alarming that multiple administrators have chosen to secretly hand nomination data to persons associated with one of several rival factions within the membership.

The polite fiction that this data was provided for research purposes has already been exploded by Mr. Quinn, who is attempting to achieve his personal and political goals by selectively releasing information in order to convince 2016 voters to radically alter their voting strategies during the 2016 nomination phase, as he described in the original post.

We may assume that Mr. Schneier has more integrity than Mr. Quinn, who wants to “stop the puppies” by hook or by crook, but he has also violated your NDA. He has revealed additionally that he was given access to confidential nomination data from prior years. As a Loncon 3 member, I would also like to know whether 2014 data provided was raw, or “badly anonymized.” What additional years were provided? Was there any NDA signed with the other administrators to cover data from other years? Do the terms of the NDA really allow Mr. Quinn and Mr. Schneier to continue using the data for their desired political or research agendas after violating it? Halting the research immediately certainly seems like it would be the ethical thing to do.

And if other WSFS members are not allowed to review the same data on the same terms, well ahead of the close of nominations, the Hugo Awards may have lost all integrity for good.”

Well said, Sir.

That’s pretty much what I would have said, except that I would have also called for those who were involved to be named and shamed, and made an example of to try and fix it.  Look: the harsh treatment that a teacher would meet out to their son or daughter, is the only way they can hope regain credibility for Hugo Award process. I hope – for the sake of prior winners, they have the courage and integrity to do what needs to be done.

I am still shocked that the Hugo Administrators thought that bias like this for their ‘favorites’ was acceptable.

Maybe they hoped no-one would notice – which makes them even less fit.

Well, we have.

And like Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s advance knowledge of the nominations, we’re going to bring this unethical behavior from Hugo Administrators up at every opportunity. If they allowed unethical behavior once to help out their favorites, without punishment or consequence… what’s next in cooking the process?

How can we trust them?

What’s any award worth, without that trust?

For years the Hugo Awards participation has been dropping, and its value declining. That is sad for the great authors who lifted the award’s prestige and made it something important.  For their sake I hope some dramatic remedial action is taken.

An update, a few thoughts and a little promo

Although not necessarily in that order.

Yesterday really got away from me. To start, I had two blog posts up. One at Mad Genius Club and one over at According to Hoyt. Whenever I wind up blogging on the same day at both sites, I figure any controversy will arise at ATH. That is where I can talk about things non-publishing related. Yesterday was no different. I wrote about my experiences travelling behind the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Soviet Union and how I wish those who extol the virtue of Communism and Socialism would actually spend time in countries ruled by those isms before deciding to condemn what we have here. MGC, on the other hand, was one of those posts where I wrote about my interpretation of someone else’s post about used bookstores, etc. Boy oh boy, did MGC blow up.

Let’s put it this way: for the first time that I remember, I added an editorial comment clarifying that I had inferred something from the article instead of the author actually saying it. I’ll let you guys go over and read the post, and the one I linked to, as well as the comments. Then I recommend you read Sarah A. Hoyt’s post on MGC today. She has some very good advice that touches on what happened yesterday as well as things she has seen during her career. My last comment on what happened yesterday was that it kept me so busy that little work was accomplished.

So work. I have finished the draft for Honor from Ashes, Book 4 in the Honor and Duty series, as noted and it is available for pre-order. You’ll find the link to it, as well as to some of my other work immediately following. The book will be available for download April 18th.

I hear you wondering what I will be doing between now and then. Part of the working day will be spent getting Honor ready for final download. That’s going to consist of the usual proofreading as well as some scene expansion/deletion. This is the longest I’ve had a book up for pre-order and I’m doing it this way so those of you who have been waiting so long for it know it is finally coming.

And yes, as I anticipated, there will be at least one more book after this using these characters. I could have wrapped up the story arc in one book but it would have been close to 300k words and that is just too much. I would have had to charge more than I wanted to and more than most folks want to pay for an e-book. As a print book, it would have turned into a doorstop. Not good. At least not in my opinion.

Now, you’ll note I said “part of the working day”. The other part will be spent working on Skeletons in the Closet. Actually, what will probably happen is I’ll work on Honor a certain number of days a week and Skeletons the other days of the week. Part of the reason for this is because I don’t want to rush the final edits on Honor. There is plenty of time to make sure they are done right. The other part of the reason is because Skeletons has gotten very loud again and I figure it’s finally time to finish writing it.

Oh, and then there are the folks in my crit group who have started threatening me if I don’t get it done.

What work I did do yesterday was going over what I had written on Skeletons and making changes I felt were necessary. That meant a few changes here and there in some chapters and a major rewrite of one scene in another. But it is moving on and I am starting to see where this might be going. Of course, there was one part of it I hadn’t remembered writing and that is a very odd feeling, let me tell you.

Snippets will follow.

Now for the promo, because I am in this for the money. (I know, I know. I’m not supposed to admit I’m capitalist enough to want to actually be paid for my work. Sorry, but I’m not into suffering for my art. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m not willing to see my work in used bookstores or libraries because they serve the purpose of letting people discover my work without feeling like they are taking a financial risk they might not be able to afford. If you wonder where this came from, follow the link above to MGC yesterday.) For those of you who have been following my blog entries here and elsehwere, you know that this last two months have been busy ones for me. I’ve managed to publish two novels and put a third up for pre-order.

Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) is now available for pre-order. Release is set for April 18th.

War isn’t civilized and never will be, not when there are those willing to do whatever is necessary to win. That is a lesson Col. Ashlyn Shaw learned the hard way. Now she and those under her command fight an enemy determined to destroy their home world. Worse, an enemy lurks in the shadows, manipulating friend and foe alike.

Can Ashlyn hold true to herself and the values of her beloved Corps in the face of betrayal and loss? Will honor rise from the ashes of false promises and broken faith? Ashlyn and the Devil Dogs are determined to see that it does, no matter what the cost.

Slay Bells Ring is a mixture of mystery and romance, with the emphasis more on mystery. This is the book that forced me to write it.

Fifteen years ago, Juliana Grissom left Mossy Creek in her rear view mirror. She swore then she would never return for more than a day or two at a time. But even the best laid plans can go awry, something she knew all too well, especially when her family was involved.

Now she’s back and her family expects her to find some way to clear her mother of murder charges. Complicating her life even further is Sam Caldwell, the man she never got over. Now it seems everyone in town is determined to find a way to keep her there, whether she wants to stay or not.

Bodies are dropping. Gossip is flying and Juliana knows time is running out. After all, holidays can be murder in Mossy Creek.

And finally, Nocturnal Challenge, the fourth book in the Nocturnal Lives series.

Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4)

By Amanda Green

The one thing Lt. Mackenzie Santos had always been able to count on was the law. But that was before she started turning furry. Now she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy to keep the truth from the public-at-large. She knows they aren’t ready to learn that monsters are real and they might be living next door.

If that isn’t enough, trouble is brewing among the shapeshifters. The power struggle has already resulted in the kidnapping and near fatal injury of several of Mac’s closest friends. She is now in the middle of what could quickly turn into a civil war, one that would be disastrous for all of them.

What she wouldn’t give to have a simple murder case to investigate and a life that didn’t include people who wanted nothing more than to add her death to the many they were already responsible for.

The first three volumes (Nocturnal Origins, Nocturnal Serenade and Nocturnal Interlude
are available individually or as the Nocturnal Lives “boxed set”.) are also available.

Signals across the void –awards and other signs.

(This is a reblog of Dave Freer’s wonderful post at Mad Genius Club. After everything that went on over the weekend at that Heinlein page I blogged about yesterday and then seeing how someone has failed to do their homework and seems to think Dorothy L. Sayers is male, I thought we needed some sanity and straight talk. Dave can always be counted on to give us that.)

There is a lot signaling in a writer’s trade.

By signaling I mean the kinds of sign which says to someone who might read your book ‘pick me up’ (probably based on the cover) and the next signal (based on the blurb) ‘I’m your kind of book’. Or ‘I am not your kind of book’. There’s probably nearly as much unappreciated value in ‘I am not your kind of book’ as there is in opposite, although it takes slightly longer term thinking to see this. Heh. Go to a divorce court, or read about the bitterness, the expense, and the damage it can do to kids sometime, and you’ll see what I mean by ‘better if we’d chosen better in first place’. The short term gratification probably doesn’t outweigh the long term damage.

It’s no less true for an author: selling a book to someone ill-suited to your writing (or even ‘meh’ about it) is great for that 64 cents (the royalty a paperback pays), but not so wonderful, as the reader who feels was ripped off is going to take it out on your reputation (because most readers have no idea how little of that cover price goes to the author. This is an ignorance that publishers and retailers do their best to maintain).

The value of a signal does depend, heavily, on it almost always being right. Short term thinking says “If I can signal something desirable, I get an immediate pay off, it doesn’t matter if that signal is false.” And indeed, the immediate payoff (whether it was sex with someone or selling a book) is there… the first and maybe a few times after that. But… word gets around. The signal’s value is degraded, and in time it changes meaning completely.

Of course people can argue about what the signal meant in the first place. Take the various ‘literary’ awards. What were they intended to do?

1) A recognition of excellence by one’s peers?
2) A recognition of excellence by the public?
3) Promote such excellence – signal to others that that is excellent and they should look?
4) A pat on the back for one of the ‘in’ literary clique’s chums?

Different awards have different purposes, and different values. As a reader and writer only (3) ‘Promote such excellence – signal to others that that is excellent and they should look at the work’ is worth much. Most awards, without careful custodianship, head for (4). At which point they lose their historical value and gradually vanish. They have less and less value as (3), and really (1) and (4) are something only the insecure want, unless they feed (3) – which (4) never does and (1) does badly. To put it brutally, if you need and support an award being (1) or (4) you’re a loser, not big enough for what is a tough profession.

(2) is a different kettle of tea. In real terms you could only get there by systematic polling. It does have a lot of (3) value too, because, true enough, we’re not that different. A book which is really the most popular book around, is worth a look-in. The nearest approximation in sf-fantasy is the Hugos. And it isn’t a great approximation (the sample of readers, by who attends/supports Worldcon is obviously inaccurate, and various problems in the nomination have been exposed by the Puppies. (they’re game-able, they’re not demographically representative of the sf readership) – but it’s the best we’ve got right now. As such it could do a good job for sf. It used to.

It had largely devolved into (4) A pat on the back for one of the ‘in’ literary clique’s chums – with rapidly declining signal value. And of course the chums, not known for their wider vision or long term thinking were very happy with that, which is why they’re absolutely livid with the Pups. They’ve been running around firstly trying to down-value our signal, and secondly frantically turning to their usual ally, ‘the rules’. We’ve had ‘think tanks’ and endless pontification about how to turn the clock back, how to retain control how to go on with making the Hugo awards a rapidly dying valueless pat on the back for the ‘in’ literary clique.

If they can do it, so can I. I’d like to re-inforce (2) and (3)

Firstly: Publishers, their employees and beneficiaries, and authors, their employees and beneficiaries are not the ‘disinterested’ public. They have an interest in the outcome, and should never vote. They should certainly never ever nominate. That would be the ethical thing to do, but as ethics are few and far between, making it a rule would not be a bad thing. The anti-puppies could cheer, because that would stop Vox Day from nominating books published by his own publisher, which they tell us is his purpose in all this.

I would cheer because it would remove a huge, unfair inequity in the process. Big publishers – like Tor for example, would no longer have 40 or 50 ‘captive’ votes, (enough for a nomination, even if no other person voted for the work) putting them on an even footing with Jenny’s-One-Woman-Publisher. So: a win for all of us, for fairness, for making the process more ‘the public’ and less log-rolling. I look forward to the eager support of Torlings who would of course want things to be fair with the same rules for big and little players. (ha ha ha.)

Secondly: Ever watched the same advert on TV… again. And again. And again. Makes you buy that product after the 43rd repeat… does it? Or makes you go and clean the cat’s litterbox rather than see it again? Advertising either works PDQ or not at all. And, as one of ‘geniuses’ on File 770 put it (it’s a bit like ‘America’s funniest home videos’.) that tragically nasty puppies like me were depriving the poor writers we excluded from having a chance of financial gain from the Hugos. Once I got over the vast guilt… (I have had no rewards, expect none. Yes I know some woman parlayed her Fan Hugo into extra advances from a PC publisher. Oh how will I live knowing I stopped a new one doing that… except it would not have been a new one – it would have been the same ones.). The same. Again. And again.

It came to me that we really need to stop this. No, not the moonbats. Shrug. If people want moonbats, let them have them… But the not SAME moonbats, or even the same nominees, over and over and over again. Let’s give FRESH moonbats a chance! Here’s the thing. Once you’ve got a Hugo, you’ve got a Hugo. If there is any value in putting Hugo Award Winner/nominee on your cover… it’s not something that improves because you’ve got two or five or ninety-three.

Let’s take some of the people who have loudly demanded the Puppies be destroyed, who have told us how bad they are. (these are quick manual counts, I make no guarantees of not missing a few or overcounting one or two.)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden – ten nominations, three wins.
Charles Stross – Thirteen noms, three wins.
John Scalzi – 6 noms, one win.

(Because I have been told the Sad Puppies – none of whom have prior slews of noms, are all white hetero Mormon men (even the women) I chose this racially and orientationally diverse group to show how the multiple noms helped the Hugos be more diverse. But it’s actually a broad pattern. If you’re in the clique, you’re in.)

Now here’s my proposal. Let’s have three strikes (noms) or a win, and you’re out. Not eligible again for say ten years if ever.

Just look at the above – even just taking 3 strikes… Another twenty nominations that could have gone to… diversity! (well, it would be hard to be less ‘diverse’) And they want that! They’ve all told us. Lead by example, please! And think, it would eliminate your bête noire John Wright and Vox Day! Ok so 95% of the leading angry CHORFS would also go, but surely they would glad to do this for (capital F) Fandom. Seanan McGuire would be very, very sad, but we all have to make sacrifices. I think I might survive that.

Of course, while these rule changes might help, they’re not going to change the fact that, sooner or later, we need to accept that IF the Hugo Awards are a populist choice among readers in general they’ll need to align roughly with the socio-political demographics of the readers. The only way to do that is to get more people from across the spectrum involved in nomination. We need to stop ignoring this. Trust me, the worm always turns. Those who ignore it willfully now, can be sure will be done to you and yours.

And now we can wait to see what the anti-puppies over on File 770 can do to prove my points for me. They’re really talented at it over there. Last week I wrote about attacking Sad Puppies writers by badmouthing their means of making a living (which is writing)… and lo: Martin Wisse “I pity his poor editors” obliges and others follow suit. Well, I am sure you’re punishing us. Or would you do that? (Pyrrhus again anyone?).

So do I pity my editors. But thank you for proving my point for me.

And I said how this could backfire… and lo: Glenn Hauman starts whinging about how his books got down-starring on Amazon treatment – oddly just after just after he recommended it for the Pup books. Tch. That’s what I still advocate against anyone doing, Glenn. More than you have done.

Mind you, it’s a very ‘creative’ reading set of commenters there. Their ‘proof’ that Patrick Nielsen Hayden is a poor maligned fellow involved proving Brad’s nick-name of CHORF painfully accurate… and completely failing to show ‘how he knew’. They floundered around well, though. The best they could do was Williamson breaking the embargo… is not ‘well I know three puppies were nominated for _Novels_ because of that’. 1) that’s a separate category, one which receives few noms at best. 2) Williamson a regular Con-goer, with a large personal fan base. Why would his win be predictive? 3) There were _four_ pup novel recommendations (all got in, Correia withdrew. So knowing three was more… interesting. 4) How did COULD he know the only other people possible were puppies? 5) No it did not come out of SMOF. “All that made it to SMOFs before the announcement was oblique discussion of a couple of nominees that broke the embargo, with no names attached. To this day I still have no idea who one of the two was.” — Petrea Mitchell.

And you’re missing the point – it is not that Patrick broke the embargo (an embargo is a general limitation, as well as on specific nominees, intended in this case to focus attention on the Hugos and WorldCon –which you claim to support.) (I assume you’re happy he merely betrayed two authors he’d been told in confidence – which of course is better. Not) It’s that he was able to know at all, especially about the puppies.

Anyway, you’re welcome to come and discuss it, 770 people – here. On Mondays. I try to keep Monday as reply and blog time.

And someone sent me this, for your amusement.

“• Blackadder says:
May 31, 2015 at 11:02 AM
This is why I have always felt this whole puppy thing is no big deal. It is time for repercussions. First, yes they stole the nominees but we’ll see how many wins they rack up. Second their little stunt is a one time deal now the fans will join in the nominee process they they will never control it again. Third, not only will they be locked out of the nominee process, they won’t even be published soon. Say goodbye to the puppies, they’re going to disappear.”

Is there a Baldrick in the house? If ever there was a man in need of a cunning plan it has to be this ‘Blackadder’.

Anyway, it is up to you guys –your votes, and whether you buy books and stories by the pups. If you do, it says we’ve got our signal across the void.

If not, it is lost in that void. That’s the gamble we take.

And now once more to work. I was going to write about dialogue and the need to introduce someone as a speaking-part foil for your lead character, but it’ll have to wait.

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