Pixel Scroll 3/1/16 If You Like To Pixel, I Tell You I’m Your Scroll

(1) NO BUCKS, NO BUCK ROGERS. “Can you make a living writing short fiction?” is the question. Joe Vasicek’s in-depth answer, filled with back-of-the-envelope calculations, is as carefully assembled as any classic hard sf tale.

First of all, it’s worth pointing out that short stories are not like longer books. In my experience (and I am not a master of the short form by any stretch), short stories do not sell as well in ebook form as longer books. That’s been corroborated anecdotally by virtually every indie writer I’ve spoken with.

At the same time, they aren’t like longer form books in the traditional sense either. I have three deal breakers when it comes to traditional publishing: no non-compete clauses, no ambiguous rights reversion, and no payments based on net. Short story markets typically only buy first publication rights with a 6-12 month exclusivity period, and pay by the word. That means that there’s no reason (unless you want to self-publish immediately) not to sell your short stories to a traditional market first.

(2) PAT SAYS IT’S PERFECT. Patrick St-Denis, who reviews at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist,  just awarded a novel a rare (for him) 10/10 score.

People have often criticized me for being too demanding when I review a novel. They often complain about the fact that very few books ever get a score higher than my infamous 7.5/10. But the fact is that year in and year out, there are always a number of works ending up with an 8/10 or more.

When I announced on the Hotlist’s Facebook page last week that Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Avatar would get a 10/10, some people were shocked. I received a couple of messages asking me if it was the first book to get a perfect score from me. I knew there were a few, but I actually had to go through my reviews to find out exactly how many of them had wowed me to perfection. Interestingly enough, in the eleven years I’ve been reviewing books, Carey’s Kushiel’s Avatar will be the 11th novel to garner a perfect score. The 13th, if you throw the Mötley Crüe biography and GRRM’s The World of Ice and Fire into the mix.

(3) GOLDEN SOUNDS. Trisha Lynn on “Road to the Hugo Awards: Fight the Future for Best Fancast” at Geeking Out About….

What Works

There are many podcasts out there which are dedicated to reviewing books and movies from a critics’ perspective. However, I believe this is one of the first podcasts I’ve heard of which reviews the actual worlds in which the books or movies take place. Of all the episodes I’ve heard, there are very few instances in which I feel that either Dan or Paul or their guests know or care too much about the current science fiction/fantasy literary blogosphere’s opinions of the works, its creators, its production team, or the actors portraying the characters. They are just there to discuss the work and only the work. When they do bring in references to other works or the greater outside world, they do it either near the beginning or near the end so that the discussion of most of the episode is focused on just the world inside the movie or book. It’s both fan discussion and literary criticism in its purest form, where the only clues you have are the work itself, the world you currently inhabit, your personal experiences, and that’s it.

(4) A BRIDGE JOKE TOO FAR? The Guardian asks “Could Cthulhu trump the other Super Tuesday contenders?”

“Many humans are under the impression that the Cthulhu for America movement is a joke candidacy, like Vermin Supreme – a way for people disgusted by a political system that has long since perished to voice a vote for a greater evil to end the status quo and the world,” says [campaign manager] Eminence Waite, sighing in a way that makes you think she’s been asked this question many times before. “They have never been so wrong, yet so right. Cthulhu is no joke.”

(5) HOW MUCH IS YOUR HARRY WORTH? Old editions of Harry Potter books may be worth up to $55,000.

First up, hardcover first editions of the original Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone could fetch anywhere from $40,000 to $55,000. Only 500 were published, and 300 went to libraries, so if you have one, go ahead and treat yourself to a nice dinner. You can afford it.

This edition has a print line that reads “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1” and credits of “Joanne Rowling” rather than JK.

(6) BUD WEBSTER MEMORIAL. There will be a Memorial for Bud Webster on March 12, from noon til 5 p.m., at the Courtyard by Marriott Williamsburg, 470 Mclaws Cir, Williamsburg, VA 23185.

Hotel Rooms: $89.00 – Please ask for the Bud Webster Memorial Rate – Also mention Mary Horton or Butch Allen if there is some confusion while trying to book the room. We are not catering anything. Sodas and snacks are available at registration

(7) DON’T GET STUCK IN THE MIDDLE. Kameron Hurley (according to her blog, an “intellectual badass”), reveals how to “Finish your Sh*t: Secrets of an Evolving Writing Process”.

People often ask how I’m able to do all that work on top of having a day job, and the answer is, most days, I just don’t know. But one thing I have learned in the last three months is that I have a lot easier time completing a draft that has me stuck in the mucky middle if I just skip ahead and write the ending.

I tend to spend a lot of time on the openings of my novels and stories, and it shows. My latest short story for Patreon, “The Plague Givers,” is a good example of this. There’s a very polished beginning, as far as the prose goes, and then it veers off into simplier language for much of the middle, and returns a bit toward the end to the more polished language. I will most likely go back and polish out the other half of the story before finding a home for it elsewhere, but watching how I completed that story reminded me of how I’ve hacked my process the last few months to try and get work out the door just a little faster.

I’m a discovery writer, which means I like to be surprised by events that happen in a book just as a reader would be.

(8) LURKER QUEST ACHIEVED. In the February 8 Scroll (item 10) a lurker described a story and asked for help identifying it.

The answer is Kent Patterson’s “Barely Decent”, published in Analog in 1991. The literary estate holder was located with an assist from Kevin J Anderson, who had anthologized another Patterson story, and from Jerry Oltion. The rights holder has authorized a link to a free download of the PDF for the story.

(9) THE POWER OF LOVE. Barbara Barrett shows how mighty love is in the worlds of Robert E. Howard: “Discovering Robert E. Howard: ‘My Very Dear Beans, Cornbread and Onions’ (Valentine’s Day—Robert E. Howard Style)” at Black Gate. But this otherwise serious roundup begins with a leetle joke —

For those of you who searched for the right way to describe your feelings for that certain special someone on February 14, Robert E. Howard might have been be a good source. After all, he was a wizard with words. And he did have a novel approach when it came to romance. As Bob Howard explains to Novalyne Price Ellis in her book One Who Walked Alone:

[M]en made a terrible mistake when they called their best girls their rose or violet or names like that, because a man ought to call his girl something that was near his heart. What, he asked, was nearer a man’s heart than his stomach? Therefore he considered it to be an indication of his deep felt love and esteem to call me his cherished little bunch of onion tops, and judging from past experience, both of us had a highest regard for onions. (106)

(10) OSCARS. At the Academy Awards on Sunday night, sf favorites The Martian and Star Wars: The Force Awakens won nothing, but Mad Max: Fury Road, so often praised here in comments, won six Oscars (Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Make-up and Hair, Best Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing), more than any other film.

Other sf/fantasy winners — Best Animated Feature Film: Inside Out and Best Visual Effects: Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington, and Sara Bennett for Ex Machina.

(11) FAST OUT OF THE GATE. R. S. Belcher, fresh from his GoH-ship at MystiCon, is ready to impart “Lessons Learned at a Writing Workshop”.

Lead strong, hook ’em, and keep ’em hooked: This advice given to several of the workshop participants made an amazing difference between draft one and draft two. The sooner you get the reader’s attention and begin to unwind the reason for your tale, the stronger the likelihood, your reader will keep reading to learn more. Novels can afford a little more leisurely pace…but only a little, and for short fiction, a strong, powerful hook is needed right out of the gate. You may only have a few sentences of an editor’s attention before they decide to keep reading or toss the Manuscript—make them count.

(12) MESSAGE FIRST. SFF World’s “Robert J. Sawyer Interview” offers this self-revelation.

What came first – the story or the characters?

Neither. I’m a thematically driven writer; I figure out what I want to say first and then devise a storyline and a cast of characters that will let me most effectively say it. For Quantum Night, the high-level concept is this: most human beings have no inner life, and the majority of those who do have no conscience. And the theme is: the most pernicious lie humanity has ever told itself is that you can’t change human nature. Once I had those tent poles in place, the rest was easy.

(13) A LITTLE LIST. David Brin asks, “Trumpopulists: what will be the priorities?” at Contrary Brin.

There is often a logic, beneath shrill jeremiads. For example, Ted Cruz has proclaimed that even one more liberal or moderate justice appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court might shift the reading of the Second Amendment (2A) — does it give private individuals an unlimited right to own guns, or reserve that right only to members of a militia?  (Go read the amendment and come back. In Heller v. D.C. the court went with Red America’s wishes by one vote, one interpretative vote. Moreover, let me shudder and add that Cruz is probably right about this one thing. The swing between those two interpretations is very likely to teeter for our lifetimes and more. But in railing about the near-term, he and his followers ignore the long term implication — …

that the Second Amendment, as currently worded, is by far the weakest in the entire Bill of Rights.  If this court or the next one does not reverse Heller, then it will inevitably happen when some huge national tragedy strikes. That’s called the “Ratchet Effect” (see The Transparent Society), and you are behooved to plan, during good times, for what you’ll do at some future crisis, when the public is scared.

If today’s political rightwing were rational, it would be working right now to gather consensus for a new Constitutional Amendment that might protect weapon rights far more firmly than the ambiguous and inherently frail Second. I have elsewhere described just such an amendment, which could actually pass! Because it offers some needed compromises to liberals and moderates – some positive-sum win-wins – while protecting a core of gun rights more firmly than 2A.

(14) JUDGING LOVECRAFT AND OTHERS. Frequent readers of Jim C. Hines will find his Uncanny Magazine essay “Men of Their Times” not only deals with its topic in a significant way, it also outlines the analytical process he applies to history.

…This argument comes up so quickly and reliably in these conversations that it might as well be a Pavlovian response. Any mention of the word “racism” in association with names like Tolkien or Burroughs or Campbell or Lovecraft is a bell whose chimes will trigger an immediate response of “But historical context!”

Context does matter. Unfortunately, as with so many arguments, it all tends to get oversimplified into a false binary. On one side are the self–righteous haters who get off on tearing down the giants of our field with zero consideration of the time and culture in which they lived. On the other are those who sweep any and all sins, no matter how egregious, under the rug of “Historical Context.”

….In an ideal world, I think most of us would like to believe humanity is growing wiser and more compassionate as a species. (Whether or not that’s true is a debate best left for another article.) If we assume that to be true, we have to expect a greater amount of ignorance and intolerance from the past. We also have to recognize that humanity is not homogenous, and every time period has a wide range of opinion and belief.

When we talk about historical context, we have to look both deeper and broader. Were Lovecraft’s views truly typical of the time, or was his bigotry extreme even for the early 20th century? Did those views change over time, or did he double–down on his prejudices?

Recognizing that someone was a product of their time is one piece of understanding their attitudes and prejudices. It’s not carte blanche to ignore them.

(15) STORIES OF WHAT-IF. At Carribean Beat, Philip Sander talks to Nalo Hopkinson, Tobias Buckell, Karen Lord, and R.S.A. Garcia.

Caribbean Beat: How do you define speculative fiction?

Nalo Hopkinson: I generally only use the term “speculative fiction” in academic circles. Science fiction and fantasy are literatures that challenge the complacency of our received wisdoms about power, culture, experience, language, existence, social systems, systems of knowledge, and frameworks of understanding. They make us reconsider whose stories deserve to be told, whose narratives shape the future and our beliefs, and who has the “right” to make and remake the world.

Is there a distinctively Caribbean kind of spec-fic?

A bunch of Caribbean SF/F [science fiction/fantasy] writers will be gathering to discuss this in March at the University of California, Riverside, as part of a year of programming I’m co-organising on alternative futurisms. I suspect one of the things we’ll end up talking about is Caribbean relationships to the experience of resistance — how it’s shaped our histories and imaginations, and so how it must shape our imaginative narratives. For instance, when I watch The Lord of the Rings, I wonder what the orcs do to rebel against their forced existence as beings created to be foot soldiers and cannon fodder.

We’ll probably also talk about the unique impact of place and space on the Caribbean psyche. I recently wrote a short story for Drowned Worlds, a fiction anthology on the theme of the effects of rising sea levels worldwide. For me, coming from island nations whose economies are often dependent on bringing tourists to our beaches, and which are the guardians of so much of the world’s precious biodiversity, it was particularly painful and personal to write a story about what will become of our lands. The resulting piece is angry and spooky, and combines science with duppy conqueror in ways that are uniquely Caribbean.

On the panel, we might also talk about language. The multiple consciousness that Caribbean history gives us is reflected in our code-switching, code-sliding, code-tripping dancehall-rapso-dubwise approach to signifying simultaneously on multiple levels. Science fiction reaches for that in its use of neologisms. Caribbean people, like so many hybridised peoples the world over, live it. We are wordsmiths par excellence.

(16) PUPPY COLLATION. Kate Paulk shut off comments at Sad Puppies IV and says “I’ll be going through them and collating the results over the next 2 weeks”. The Hugo nominating deadline is March 31.

(17) TALKING TO THE CUSTOMERS. The Video Shop presents “400 Fourth Wall Breaking Films Supercut”. (Most of you already know that when somebody on stage acknowledges the audience, that’s called breaking the fourth wall.) (Via io9.)

Since you’re reading this let me give you a bit of background and a couple of provisos.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of fourth wall breaking films. There are shitloads. Definitely more than 400. But 400 seemed a tidy number to end on. It’s not an academic study and there’s no rhyme or reason behind the grouping of the clips other than what seemed to work. So while yes, there are highbrow French new wave films in there I’ve also had to include The Silence of the Hams and Rocky and Bullwinkle. But then I kind of like that.

And because it’s mine I give more screen time to my favourite serial offenders, just because I can. Take a bow John Landis, Woody Allen and Mike Myers.


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Rob Thornton for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mart.]

295 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/1/16 If You Like To Pixel, I Tell You I’m Your Scroll

  1. Which isn’t to say no one should read it, just that it needs to be read with an awareness of its problems.

    1. Your response was completely irrelevant to my citation of the work, since I was citing it for Diamond’s recounting of stories he had gotten from New Guineans.

    2. Your source was crap. It criticized Diamond for not reading recent historical work, apparently not noticing that Guns, Germs, and Steel is a twenty year old books. Many of the criticisms amounted to little more than “Diamond didn’t find significant the same things I find significant”. If you have better sources, you should lead with those, not sloppy reddit bullshit.

  2. Petréa Mitchell: An alternative solution which has been adopted at some facilities is the medical scribe, who takes care of the computer work while the doctor talks to the patient.

    This is good too if the person taking the notes is paying attention. I’ve had the doctor give the person instructions, they type them up just like the other notes, and don’t do what was requested – usually stuff like print notes off for patient, make sure she gets prescriptions, find x doctor contact info, bring all to front desk for her.

    Leaving said patient screwed as no one can help when I get to front desk and things aren’t waiting for me. But the doctor hopefully has good, if not fully relevant, notes.

  3. @snowcrash Funny–showed up perfectly in my RSS reader! Thanks–that’s fun.

  4. @HRJ: “In general, purely as a matter of personal taste, attempts to mix erotica and literary merit rarely succeed for me.”

    Hey, whatever suits. I’m not sure I’d say J.B. shoots for “literary merit” so much as “literate and not cardboard,” though. I generally find it refreshing when smut is more than one of a handful of tired plots, and competent wordcraft is a big plus. The bar for self-pub erotica just seems abysmally low these days…

  5. @Rev Bob
    As compared to trad pub erotica? Personally I’ve found the bar has always been inconsistent and low. I might be biased as I frequently found myself unexpectedly reading erotica when I was expecting PNR 5-10 years ago so YMMV. Thank goodness for all those useless 1-3 star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

  6. Also without going into detail, while I may not be looking for a lot of literary merit, there are levels of carelessness–character names changing in mid-paragraph, random jumps from first to third person ditto–that will throw me out of any kind of story, erotica included. Also, second person is difficult, regardless of genre.

  7. @lurkertype

    Admittedly pedantic, but, automatic firearms have been highly regulated in the U.S. since the 1930’s when mobsters having machine guns spurred Congress to act . Ownership requires a moderately pricey tax stamp, a background investigation, and an entirely discretionary approval by local law enforcement:


    NFA regulated firearms rarely get abused and are a fast track to prison if you don’t follow the rules. It’s not really automatic firearms that are getting used in recent shooting incidents but semi-automatics. The difference being an automatic keeps shooting repetitively while the trigger is held back while a semiautomatic fires one shot with each trigger pull.

    Whether something like the NFA applied to semi-autos would make a difference??? It will never be on the table with politics as is in any case.

  8. Brian Z.

    My comment was on whether trying to get as close to 85 nominations as humanly possible might be a sort of a political project.

    Because gosh, a full ballot of your honest favorites is just exactly like converging on a set of acceptable second bests to get more political power over the process so your leader can hand out Hugo nominations like party favors to his friends and mentors amirite?

    Give it up, Brian. Nobody here is going to be ashamed of actively seeking good stuff to nominate.

  9. @Tasha:

    Tradpub erotica may be shallow and trite on average, but it’s usually competent in at least a technical sense. The grammar’s solid, words are spelled correctly, tenses agree, and so forth. With self-publishing… not so much.

    I’ll put it like this. For all the popular jokes about Penthouse Forum publishing unrealistic letters, I know that if I pick up any of Penthouse’s letter magazines or paperback compilations, the content and look will be coherent and of reasonable quality. I might not be impressed, but the grapefruit spoons will rest easy in the silverware drawer. If I hit Amazon and select a random self-published erotic work, I have no such expectation. Even the most basic standards of formatting – margins, leading, indentation – fall by the wayside.

    That’s not to say that there are no competently-written indie ebooks on the market; far from it. It’s just that when I look at self-pub from any genre, I see a generally lower level of technical quality, and I’ve noticed even a sharper slide in the field of erotica.

    ETA, @Vicki:

    One story I just pulled up – acquired as a freebie – has a sentence that, names changed, reads: “Betty walked over to Fred who is sitting on the couch.” In the middle of a pages-long paragraph. Ouch.

  10. Agreeing with Vicki and Rev. Bob. I read a fair amount of fanfic porn for Reasons (I’m cheap, it’s free, I can visualize the characters more easily given source material) and some of it’s great, but wow do things like comma splices or “alright” as one word or improper use of its/it’s make me backbutton. With traditionally published works, at least I know somebody’s paid to give it a decent line-edit.

  11. @Rev. Bob:

    I’ve noticed even a sharper slide in the field of erotica.

    That’s probably because it’s not respected, which gives some people the idea that no standards apply. Indie authors who might otherwise wonder if they’ve written well enough think there’s no such thing as writing too badly for porn.

  12. @Vasha:

    Maybe so. That’s why I so enjoy finding material which bucks that trend. Michael Dalton, for instance, does tremendous work. I discovered his novella The eGirl after seeing J.B.’s review, and I’ve liked his other works that I’ve read.

  13. @Rev Bob
    Point. I’ve tried talking several people out of writing erotica. You shouldn’t write what you don’t read. OMG were their story ideas gross. Hiring a little ne editor/proofreader is a minimum requirement. You can hire reasonable ebook formatters on fiver if your really hard up*. So I see your point*.

    *I’ll see myself out.

  14. Now I feel silly; I have a comment to make, moments after the god-stalk one.

    @Isabel Cooper: “things like comma splices”

    To be fair, folks use that some in trad pub non-erotica, so I guess it’s valid, but it annoys the heck outta me. I read a famous fantasy trilogy from years ago (owned a long time but never read; I was given very nice newer edition) and OMG the author comma-spliced on every freaking page. Maybe every paragraph, and I’m not sure that’s an exaggeration. It drove me nuts, even though the novels were otherwise great. A comma is not a semicolon!

    (I’ve read a few more recent books by the same author, but I don’t remember whether the author still does this.)

    /rant 😉

  15. @ Heather Rose Jones,

    I expressed sympathy with your effort, called it commendable, noted everybody does it, and itemized my own go-to sources for late-in-the-season extra reading. I also said fans on both sides might get carried away. Since this blog hosts several folks criticizing Kate Paulk for collating a rec list with less than a month left on the clock, making that point here is pretty much par for the course.

    Your verbal abuse does not address my stated point, that if everyone dramatically changes their voting practices the character of the award will change dramatically too.

  16. @Brian Z: No extra points to you for being disingenuous. +1 on the ‘Fuck off’.

  17. Brian Z: Since this blog hosts several folks criticizing Kate Paulk for collating a rec list  posting a thinly-disguised slate with less than a month left on the clock,

    … meaning that few people will have enough time to read what gets posted for SP4, and its only real usefulness will be as a fill-in-the-blank slating crib sheet.

    Brian Z: if everyone dramatically changes their voting practices the character of the award will change dramatically too.

    And the problem with that would be… what, exactly?

  18. @Brian Z: ….if everyone dramatically changes their voting practices the character of the award will change dramatically too.

    I don’t care whether or how Sad Puppies assemble their reading list/slate, although I will note that it will be tough catch up if there are more than a few entries per category. That’s rather different than people who have been reading for some number of months with an eye toward award worthiness and are now at the point where they’re looking at categories that have not been represented by that work.

    I’m interested in seeing whether there’s an observable impact if there is an increase in nominators, but am not certain a potentially larger number of voters with a potentially greater number of nominees will dramatically change the character of the award. I doubt the result will be detrimental, though, so I’m curious rather than concerned.

  19. The character of the Hugo award changes according to the nominating & voting population. That population is not constant, hence “hometown advantage” some years. And hence the voting & nominating population doesn’t favour Old School Nuts & Bolts Science Fiction stories as much as it did in the past (tastes change & the craft of writing evolves). These are all features of the award, not bugs.

    So long as the nominating & voting membership choose their own honest favourites, I have absolutely no problem with the result. If over time it becomes less relevant as my guide to what I consider good SF/F, then that’s how it goes. I just don’t see a problem.

  20. @Tasha:

    Alternately, indie authors in need of ebook formatting, proofreading, or editing services could contact… me. It’s a sideline. 🙂

    Speaking of, J.B. sent me the finished text for Book Two a couple of hours ago, which means I’ll be setting it up for preorders today or Saturday. Probably today, as there are a couple of spelling errors in Book One that also came to light. Might as well take care of both at the same time, right?*

    Oddly enough, J.B. started this book almost exactly two years ago; that anniversary is three days away. One novel, three short tie-in stories, and over 180,000 words later, the only text that isn’t locked yet is some front/back matter and the last short story – and that’ll probably get finished this weekend. I still have some formatting to do, but if the last bits come in soon and I have a few uninterrupted hours this weekend, I think I can deliver the final files by the 7th. All that would remain from there is the final rollout of the box set and the last short, but that’s Marketing, not Construction. 😉

    Then I get to wonder how work on the not-sequel is going. I’ve heard a few different outlines, so it sounds like it’s still in the planning phase. Some of the research I know about has been truly bizarre; I’ve learned more from some conversations than I ever thought I’d know about recent developments in plastic surgery. (“Recent” meaning within the last decade; the story takes place about eight years ago.)

    At least I have a small local con coming up in a couple of weeks. That’ll be fun. And recreational reading! I get to do that again! 😀

    * Speaking of seeing oneself out…

  21. @Kendall: I know, right? It’s a shame that the “Fight the Future” podcast is ending this year, but I can’t wait to see what the brothers decide to talk about next.

  22. @Kendall: Oh, me too, and ditto. There are times when you violate the rules of grammar for effect, times when it suits a POV or mood; still, it’s pretty obvious when someone doesn’t have the skills to pull it off, or is just doing it because they don’t know any better. Same thing with sentence fragments.

  23. @Rev Bob
    I only send reasonable people to work with people I respect. It’s a policy I made after a number of mutual friends made my life miserable as each side made unreasonable demands on the other based on overestimating how good they were and underestimating the skills and knowledge of the other.

  24. @Tasha @Rev. Bob,

    I also do general freelance editing and proofreading. Mostly I’ve worked on nonfiction, but I will proofread or copyedit almost anything written in English, if the person is willing to pay my usual rates.

    Someone who is giving away their work usually isn’t prepared to pay an editor (understandably); trading off beta reading with a friend or acquaintance does help, certainly for things like “who’s this Bob person who just walked into the story?”

  25. I set up books for publication (most often for Lightning Source, but sometimes for others), and it’s rare and gratifying to find one that didn’t need a lot of editing that it didn’t get. I end up fixing a ton of things anyway. Clients insist they’ve run it past several strict editors! English teachers! I pity their students. There are a lot of people out there who just write the way they speak, and don’t know what the little wiggly bits between words are, or how the letters go together to make words. I don’t mean the young people of today, either, but middle-aged people, including teachers.

    (Like some others here, I do ebooks as well, at rates that seem eminently reasonable to me.)

  26. Have I told the story of the 2,500-page short story here?

    First of all, everything I’m about to say is completely true. I’m looking at the document right now in another window. If I were so inclined, I could link to it on Amazon.

    I found a temporary-free erotic work (which I’m going to call a “book” as a generic term unrelated to length) on Amazon, thought it looked interesting, and picked it up. The blurb mentioned that there was some bonus material included – great! Oh, how little I suspected…

    First of all, the book was over five megs when downloaded. (Amazon’s inability to estimate its length should’ve been a clue.) When I converted to EPUB and opened it, Adobe calculated that it was 2,501 pages long. The organization was horrible, the navigation nonsensical, and the “main” story was at the very end of the book. (In fairness, there’s a preview near the front with a link that takes you right to it. If you don’t click the link, though, good luck!) The last entry in the navigation said only “Bonus Spanish Section” and went to page 1,154. The rest of the navigation “sequence” bore no resemblance at all to the straight-through reading order, and some items were listed twice. Furthermore, many of the navigation entries were labeled as one story but pointed elsewhere.

    Upon opening the book in an editor, I immediately ripped out the Spanish section, several internal covers, preview pages, and some fully-duplicated content. I reorganized the contents so that the main story was first, the other stories from that author went into one bonus section, and the rest of the extra content got separated into other sections according to author and/or publisher. (Some of the works don’t have listed authors.) I also completely removed a Christian romance that really didn’t belong with the rest of the content. With all of that gone, I harmonized the formatting for a consistent reading experience. There’s still some work to do, but it’s in pretty good condition now.

    It’s still 1,437 pages and 1.4 megs. The main story takes up pages 6-22. For those still following along, that’s 1,415 pages of bonus content. It breaks down as six sources (including the author of the headline story) contributing fifty “full length bonus ebooks” at an average length of 28 pages each. Granted, I like extra stuff as much as anyone else, but that strikes me as just a wee bit excessive. It’s shovelware fiction. Maybe I’ll go back to the original file and resurrect some of the covers, so I can split it into more manageable chunks.

    Oh, well. At least it was free. 😀

  27. @Vicki Rosenzweig
    I’ll keep you in mind.

    @Kip W
    The English teacher edited my book usually makes me want to cry. As proofreader that’s probably ok. But for anything else they’ve had the training for the wrong job. I’ll keep you in mind also.

    @Rev Bob
    So your saying their was a little story and lots of bonus stories promoting other authors?

    It sounds like the author read some advice I’ve seen and even given but didn’t understand it. At. All.

    If you want to send me your basic rates by email or methods one should use to contact for work I’ll add your info to my memo doc and pass your names along as appropriate. Click my name & you should get to my website with contact info.

    I have a co-author who is also my first editor. If I ever get my stories written I have a possible dream developmental editor to approach. I got stuck with my short story between hit by truck causing cognitive problems and friend being kind with criticism: “each draft is less cringeworthy than the last”. Others telling me it sucked, never get me into Viable Paradise workshop, one of the worst early drafts they’d ever seen, OMG what were you thinking?, I was psyched with. Redline the shit out of it I’m happy as a clam.

    So Jewish vampires may or may not be written by me. It’s only been tackled by a few authors. I’ve only read one story which came close to what I’m trying to do. He needed an editor and a better cover. I’ve tried adding the stories I know about to “Jewish Vampire” listopia on Goodreads.

    I’ve read a strange Jewish werewolf story.

  28. Tasha Turner
    By “edit” here, I pretty much assume they mean they proofed it, and I’d hate to guess what it looked like before, though it would be interesting, in a way, to be able to compare.

  29. @Tasha: “So your saying their was a little story and lots of bonus stories promoting other authors?”

    (cough) “you’re” saying “there” was (cough) 😉

    The bonus stuff fit into eight categories: more of her stuff, stuff from five other authors (one of whom may also be her – WTF?), five anonymous books with a common publisher, and the Spanish stuff. With the Spanish and inspirational content removed, I had five manageable chunks. One covers the headline author and her other content, three more do the same for the other three authors who had a substantial amount of content, and the last puts the less-prolific author together with the anonymous content.

    That got each of the five chunks down to a much more reasonable size of around 300 pages each. I had to do a little searching to find covers and designate “headline stories” for the four new compilations, but that wasn’t too hard.* After that, it was just a matter of making four clones of the cleaned-up megabook into the new compilations, deleting the excess content from all five, substituting the new covers where needed, and touching up the navigation. I still need to fix the metadata so software can tell the five books apart, but that’s normal. (Unlike some of the content, which seems to have a distinct “shifter” slant…)

    * #sorrynotsorry

  30. @Rev Bob
    I need full-time proofreader. I shouldn’t be allowed to comment anywhere without someone proofing my stuff. Are you available 24/7?

    So it was a number of anthologies. LOL

    What a mess.

  31. @Tasha:

    Unfortunately, despite the appearance my timestamps may give, even I need some sleep. Plus, staying up longer than a day or so messes with my typing skills – not to mention my epilepsy. That tends not to be a good thing for anyone… :-/

  32. Ah, yes, classic erotica. The good stuff, like: Archimedes’ Screw

    (Only a little sorry for the pun 😛 )

  33. Pingback: File 770's News From Fandom - Amazing Stories

  34. Just tying up loose ends.

    I agree. Government has a place and a productive purpose. Creating a legal frame work for punishing miscreants and when necessary isolating them helps society progress. Creating a legal framework that enables those that create to protect their work and derive wealth from it via patents, copyright, and trademarks helps society progress. Creating a legal framework that enables money, ideas, and labor to easily flow together helps society progress. Building the necessary infrastructure (i.e. sewers, water, roads) helps society progress.

    These are the most significant elements of what used to be considered as liberal government that is focused on defending and extending individual liberty.

    I agree that the 20th century is the story of western governments defeating oppressive governments. That is because we have open societies where people are free to explore ideas that interest them and to act in their own self interest.

    I disagree that social welfare spending was the source of the strength that led to that defeat.

    Coincidentally, I came across this piece this morning. FWIW.

    Moving on to other things.


  35. Oops, Dann, part of your post is missing.

    A: I agree that the 20th century is the story of western governments defeating oppressive governments.

    B: < explanation of how C causes A >

    C: That is because we have open societies where people are free to explore ideas that interest them and to act in their own self interest.

  36. Siorry JJ. I was trying to avoid yet another TLDR.

    Essentially, the combination of people free to pursue their individual interests….free minds…coupled with the ability of people/companies to use the results of those pursuits….free markets….results in a larger culture that generates intellectual and technological progress at a rate that far surpasses all of the forms of command economies.


  37. When you say this:

    Creating a legal framework that enables those that create to protect their work and derive wealth from it via patents, copyright, and trademarks helps society progress. Creating a legal framework that enables money, ideas, and labor to easily flow together helps society progress. Building the necessary infrastructure (i.e. sewers, water, roads) helps society progress.

    Followed by this:

    I disagree that social welfare spending was the source of the strength that led to that defeat.

    You contradict yourself.

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