Thursday, April 3, 2014

Long live the king? Nope! Bring down the king!

I'm not exactly sure when this started, but recently someone raised a statue to Joffrey, the insane boy king from Game of Thrones.

Now it's time to take it down!

Every time someone sends out a tweet with #bringdowntheking in it, that statue comes ever closer to being toppled. As of this blog the meter is about a third of the way towards the statue's demise, but I doubt that it'll take all that long to really get that many tweets. To put it mildly, Joffrey is quite the ass and one of those characters that people love to hate, so odds are high that this might take less time than the organizers expected. (5 days)

Further reading:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

When facepalming isn't enough to show my frustration

I've largely left this blog alone, as personal family issues and school have taken up a large amount of my time over the last year or so. Once in a while I'll find something that just makes me feel the need to have an opinion about something in a public forum. You guys all know the feeling, right?

So recently author Lynn Shepard posted a blog saying JK Rowling should stop writing after publishing The Casual Vacancy. At first I was ready to see things from her perspective because of the heavy criticism the book has received. Many have called the book "mediocre at best" and a lot of people have openly wished that she would go back to Potter and Potter-esque books. I've heard some theorize that the book would have been better if she'd "let go" of the Potter world and stop trying to add to the world afterwards, as it would have allowed her to really devote herself more to what she's currently writing. Part of this is fueled by the fact that TCV seems to try to be as un-Harry Potter as it can be at times, which could be argued is JKR still allowing her Potter world to exercise its hold on her. I'm listing all of this because this is what I was expecting from the article: for Shepard to say that she wanted JKR to stop writing until she can figure out what she wants to do as an author. Sort of the whole "find yourself and then write" type of article.

No, as you can guess this is not the type of article that Shepard wrote.

The article is pretty much just Shepard asking Rowling (and arguably by extension, all major league writers, thereafter referred to as MLW) to stop putting out books because it makes it harder for smaller authors to get sales and attention. There are so many things wrong with that concept that I couldn't help but think of that John Cleese gif:

Now the thing is, Shepard isn't entirely off base with that remark. A lot of publishers will choose to ignore new, small, unknown, and/or independent authors because they want to stick with their known commodity. And an author is very much a commodity.  The average publisher sinks a lot of money into even the smaller authors, so they stand a lot to lose even if the author is e-book only.

However the idea that a publisher would automatically pick up various other authors if a MLW stopped writing is a very faulty one. They might look for something to fill the gap, but odds are they'll just lean a little harder on the other authors they already have in their stable.

(Any excuse for a Futurama picture, right?)

The reality is that while publishers do want to stay with the "tried and true", the existence of MLW in any given genre makes it more likely that a publisher will want to publish similar works by various other authors. This doesn't mean that the publisher is going to pick up every author or even your work, but it does make sense. After the urban fantasy market boomed years ago with the output of various MLW in the field, multiple publishers rushed out to snap up every Sookie and Anita clone they could find. You can also see this in the cozy mystery genre with just about anything involving recipes or the supernatural. The lack of a MLW in the field that consistently brings in money will just make the publishers assume that the genre is "tapped out" and will likely stop looking to sign new authors while cutting a few other authors loose from their contracts.

Now if you're talking about how the media covers authors, then sure- there are a few arguments someone could make about that as well. Some outlets just don't want to cover too many of the same types of authors at a time unless they're doing a compilation piece about various authors in a specific genre and/or that are similar to a MLW. They don't want to be boring or lose the idea that they're about all things entertainment or news, so they try to mix things up. However a lot of those places tend to be fairly major, so we could also apply the arguments above: there's no guarantee that they'll decide to write about other authors in the genre for the same reasons publishers won't look for new authors.

This is also overlooking the obvious: if JKR really loved writing then why should she stop? As a coworker of mine said upon hearing about the story, "Wouldn't someone who really loved writing want to keep writing? Why would they stop?"

Ultimately a MLW deciding to bow out of writing entirely wouldn't have any true positive effects on the world of writing as a whole. It's not like it's a position at a business where the office manager or company president steps down and there has to be someone there to fill his or her shoes. Sure there might be something new that someone could find, but lets look at it this way: JKR hasn't written a new Potter-type book in a long while... yet you don't really see a huge and overwhelming flurry of people getting published. People like to say that Twilight was the replacement Harry Potter, but the thing is... Twilight was published in 2005 and was already wildly popular by the time the HP series ended in 2007. Meyer may have gained a few spillover readers after the HP series ended, but odds are that a lot of the people who were reading HP probably picked up Twilight because they'd enjoyed the whole reading experience with JKR and wanted more.

In the end, that's why MLW can be so beneficial: they make it more likely that someone will read something and want to read something similar to it, thus enabling them to find your book. Sure, JKR and SM aren't really similar in ways other than both are supernatural but the work did come up in a lot of "if you like... " searches. Trust me- my Amazon feed was filled with recommendations for various authors, both independent and well known. Having MLW in the field only heightens the chances someone will find your book.

And as for someone else going into another genre... the same rules apply. If a MLW publishes in your field, regardless of how good the book is, odds are high that it'll bring new readers in. They might hate the MLW's book, but then they might think "I liked the idea of this, so let's check out something else to see if there's anything better out there". Some might toss the MLW's book aside and never read anything from that genre again, but then those readers were unlikely to have picked your book up anyway... so you're not really losing a reader.

Plus think of it this way: there will always be a bigger writer than you. While you're praying that ____ stops writing, someone else may be wishing that you'd stop writing so they could have "your job" as an author. By this definition everyone published by a major league publishing house should stop publishing after one book so the next one can have their turn. Needless to say, I don't think anyone wants to actually do that.

Further reading:
*If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Help an indie horror movie out?

I have to admit that I love horror movies. I eat 'em up like candy, or at least I would if my active imagination didn't wreak havoc on me if I watch them before I go to bed.

In any case, I found the following horror film on Kickstarter. It's called "Death Walks" and the director, Spencer Hawken, is trying to get the funding to send the movie out to various film festivals. It's already made and ready to rock- it just needs a little help getting there.

I figured I'd put this out there for any of you guys that use Kickstarter and could put some funding forth.

Clicking on the photo should take you to the Kickstarter page. If you're curious, here's the film's plot synopsis:

One night a shopping centre is attacked by a sinister force, those inside fight to survive while an outside world parties. Nothing is quite what it seems, nothing is straightforward, relationships are forged, trust is broken, and something truly evil and unexpected takes an upper hand. The ultimate battle of good and evil has begun... Death Walks.

Sounds pretty cool, right?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Book Review: Pandemic: A Novel by Scott Sigler

Title: Pandemic: A Novel (Infected #3)
Author: Scott Sigler
Publisher: Crown Publishing
ISBN: 0307408973
Release Date: 1/21/2013

There's a reason that Siglerites are such die-hard fans. It's because our FDO (that's "Future Dark Overlord" for those new to Sigler's fandom) knows what we want and tries to deliver it to us as best as he possibly can. Sigler has worked on quite a few trilogies so far and as far as his "mainstream" stuff goes, this is the first official series ender we've received. (Not sure if MVP ended his GFL series of not- I've fallen behind with those books.) I had to admit that I was a little nervous about whether or not this book would really live up to all of the rather lofty expectations I had for it and whether or not I'd be able to get over the distinct lack of Perry Dawsey as a main character- after all, he did die in a gloriously violent death that would eliminate any chances of him returning as a character.

The good news is that while you'll definitely miss Dawsey as a main character, the book does grab your attention and hold it until the finish. So even though you'll still miss Scary Perry, there's enough here to where this won't bother you as much. (Although he is in this book in a fashion.)

This is a rather weighty book, as my ARC copy was 500+ pages long. I ended up skipping a few hours of studying for finals to get into this book, which proved to be pretty addicting. It's told from the viewpoints of several different people- Margaret, Clarence, Murray, and new characters such as Cooper and Steve. No spoilers on what roles the two new guys play in this novel, but they're fairly major and some of the things that Cooper has to do in order to survive are pretty grim.

What made this so much fun for me was that Sigler made so much of it seem believable. Don't get me wrong- this is solidly fiction, but mixing in real life elements such as human biology, medical experiments, and other such things makes this a little more eerie than if he hadn't used them. For example, Sigler uses the idea of human paranoia over any large government movement to great effect. When the US government tries to do something to stem the impending Infected tides, its met with widespread criticism from people who assume that the government is trying to control them- something that I can genuinely imagine people doing. It made for a nice touch that I really appreciated.

I can't wait for this to get the podcast treatment and it's making me really anticipate future followups to some of Sigler's other works such as Nocturnal or Ancestor. If you liked Sigler's other works in the Infected trilogy at all, buy it. I'd even go so far as to say that if you like a good science fiction-ish read, that you just plunk down the cash to get all three. If you're hesitant, Sigler does offer free podcast versions of the previous two books (Infected and Contagious), but don't be surprised if you end up purchasing this novel as a result of that.

5/5 stars

(ARC provided by Amazon Vine)

Monday, November 18, 2013

"The Rise of the E-Book Jerk"

I read about this via Dear Author initially, so credit to them for the story.

The basic gist is that there was an article in Paste Magazine about people returning e-books on Amazon, who has a 7 day return policy. Some authors only have a few returns while others have quite a bit- 10% of their sales. The article lists a bunch of people who believe that many of these returners are reading the book and then asking for their money back.

DA brought up a good point: many people aren't able to immediately read the books for whatever reason, so a return could happen days after the initial purchase. I have to add this tidbit: some people return e-books because the title was so awful that they didn't want to finish it or keep it on their reader. Sometimes people do it because a book is filled with so many visible errors that they can't bring themselves to read it and return it more to prove a point that someone shouldn't have to pay for a book where the author couldn't or wouldn't edit out the grammatical and spelling errors.

I have to admit that I'm not a fan of returning books (print or e-book) if you've read them. I don't think I've returned a book for any reason other than already owning it or getting the wrong one as a gift. I do think that there's a bit of an issue with the idea of getting a book and returning it later just so you could purchase another book down the road. Reducing or eliminating the amount of time one can get a refund would help, but I think that many authors would see reduced sales in general. Many of the people who do this purely as a way to get "freebies" aren't usually the type that want to spend money in general.

Further reading:
*Dear Author
*Paste Magazine

Friday, November 15, 2013

One butterbeer frappuccino, please

As many of you are already aware, recently it was "announced" that Starbucks was offering Butterbeer lattes and frappuccinos. Sorta. It's part of their "secret menu" that isn't really secret as much as it's one of many drinks that you can order as long as you remember the recipe for it when you go up to order.

(My reaction upon reading about this.)

I haven't had the ability to try this yet, but next time I wander into a Starbucks I'll have to give this a try. I'll probably go for the cold version, as the hot one sounds a little too sweet for my tastes. I'll never get to try the "official" version since I'm allergic to milk and can't have anything with a very heavy cream base, but I'll try the soy milk equivalent thereof.

(Still an accurate depiction.)

If you want to try this out, make sure to do it during the holiday season, as not every Starbucks offers toffee nut syrup year-round.

So without much more ado, on with the recipes!

(Why yes I have been watching Adventure Time lately!)

 Cold recipe:

  • Creme frappuccino base with whole milk (this is supposedly for the consistency more than flavor)
  • 3 pumps caramel syrup
  • 3 pumps toffee nut syrup
  • Top with caramel syrup and whipped cream
Hot recipe:

  • Whole milk steamer
  • Add caramel syrup (2 for tall, 3 for grande, 4 for venti)
  • Add toffee nut syrup (2 for tall, 3 for grande, 4 for venti)
  • Add cinnamon dolce syrup (2 for tall, 3 for grande, 4 for venti)
  • Whipped cream and salted caramel bits on top
  • Optional: Add a shot of espresso (2 for a grande or venti)

So there you have it. According to a Syracuse reporter, this was overly sweet and didn't taste like what she was expecting it to.

(Not really related, but figured why not? Although it's probably pronounced "Te-AH-tAH-may" in some circles.)

Further reading:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fifty Shades of Herpes

So recently two Belgian professors decided that they would run tests on the ten most popular books at their local library. What type of tests? Bacteriology and toxicology, essentially meaning that they looked at whether or not one or more of the people handling the books were on something or had a disease or issue that could be picked up with testing.

Why do it? Because science.

(Quite possibly my favorite picture ever of Herbert West, you should check out the original artist here)

Of course one of the most popular books was Fifty Shades of Grey because hey- sex is popular, especially when you can get it in a format that's socially acceptable.

What did they find? All of the books tested positive for enough cocaine to potentially have someone test positive on a drug test. However FSoG had that little something extra:


Yep. These books had herpes on them. Not enough to where you could actually contract it, but enough to where it showed up. It's entirely possible that the herpes on them were of the cold sore variety. Not every person with herpes has it below the waist, after all, and it's entirely reasonable to think that someone could have been touching their face and passing herpes on.

(Like this, actually)

Of course it's far more funny to think that it's the result of someone trying to do the kitkat shuffle while reading their library rented erotica. Gross, but funny. Next time I check a book out from the library, it might go through this process:

Further reading:

*Professors Test Fifty Shades of Grey Library Book, Find It Has Traces of Herpes