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by Harry Connolly
2) Steve Rogers: Premature Anti-Facist. h/t James Nicoll
6) Pacific Rim in the Power Rangers style! Video.
7) Want to deter pests without using chemicals or traps? Try an automatic lawn sprinkler with a motion-sensor attached.
Okay! The jack o’lanterns are lit, making a path from the top of the stairs to my apt door. Spooky lights are lit. Dracula is on the Netflix, but it won’t load because I can’t imagine why a horror classic would be slow to load on Halloween seriously can’t imagine.
I also have a candy bowl with four Butterfingers, four Snickers, four Nestle’s Crunches, and four (meh) Milky Ways.
There is also a cold beer in the fridge, waiting for my kind attention.
I’m going to live blog the number of kids who come, what treats they take, and what costumes they have. Assuming any show up at all.
Anyway, movie’s playing. I always liked swapping out Renfield for Harker at the start of Lugosi’s Dracula. It simplifies things.
6:28: HOORAY! A tiny little girl dressed as “a rabid raccoon” selected a Crunch candy bar. One kid, at least, has come by.
7:00: No other kids have come by.
7:39: No other kids. Should I just give up? Shut out the light and stuff the candy into the freezer?
7:59: Seriously considering the freezer now.
Writers complain. A lot.
And really, they have reason to. Does the guy who drives the truck full of books from the warehouse to the bookstore have to hold down a day job so he can pursue his love of truck driving? That’s a nope, but the people who create the objects he’s transporting often do. Most people in publishing do not make mint, but most of them don’t live as though their job is a hobby.
For writers, most of them have to squeeze writing in between work and family duties. Then, when they’re published, they find that things completely out of their control threaten to (or do) sink their book.
Lousy covers. Delayed royalty payments. People who send nasty reviews because they want the writer to see the reviewer’s contempt. There are a million indignities to be endured and worst of them all is the strong possibility that a writer will outlive their own career.
But there are good things, too. A review by someone who gets the book. An enthusiastic bookseller. Beautiful cover art. Beautiful design. A kind word from another professional. A happy reader.
I think that anyone within a (virtual) mile of me knows that I’m running a Kickstarter. In fact, I’m writing this post on Friday night but scheduling it for Saturday morning, 12 hours before the campaign closes.
Going into this thing, I knew I would have reason to be grateful. Even if it never funded, I would be grateful to everyone who pledged and everyone who helped me put the project together. My wife was endlessly patient with that damn video shoot. My kid was enthusiastic about making art for the stretch goals (and the Tejohn Minecraft skins). And others, too, that I’m not sure I should specifically name, who looked at the preview version and told me what to cut or change.
But the response from readers has really been beyond my expectations. I could type out thank yous until my fingers fall off and it still wouldn’t seem like enough.
And you know what? This is pretty much on par with my experience as a writer. The fact that I can string together words into a narrative means that I have been the recipient of astonishing kindness, from things as simple as a word of praise to as complex as offers to replace my writing computer or attend events at a convention.
If there’s one thing about being a writer that has surprised me, it’s the tremendous amount of gratitude it has brought into my life. So thank you.
making books personal Twenty Palaces Books: a blessing of monsters internet people publishing Twenty Palaces
by Harry Connolly
If you’ve been following the recent research on happiness, you might be surprised by some of what has been discovered. Yes, buying material objects can increase your happiness, but only in the very short term. Buying new clothes or a new hat is nice at first, but we quickly become accustomed to it and the happiness fades.
What makes us most happy–and makes for long-lasting happiness–is experiences, especially experiences that will be happening sometime in the not too distant future. The reason is that it’s not so much the experience (the vacation, the concert, the road trip) itself that brings joy, but the anticipation of it. Read this article in The New Republic for a magazine-length discussion:
One interesting finding was that people enjoyed TV shows more when they included commercial breaks, because that little teasing delay between acts increased their anticipation.
Why do I mention this? Well, books are both material objects and experiences, and sometimes it can be a long wait for a book to come out. That seems like the best of both worlds.
But I’m not bringing this up because of my Kickstarter, which ends this Saturday and which promises a fun experience some months from now when the trilogy (plus the unlocked bonus books) are finished and released. I mean, sure, you might think this topic would be a good way to promote a Kickstarter, but that’s not why I’m here.
I want to officially announce a paper edition of TWENTY PALACES, the self-published prequel to CHILD OF FIRE and the other Twenty Palaces novels.
No, it’s not available yet. I’m still trying to get the cover to work (that’s today’s task, alongside setting up a new Time Capsule) but telling you now so you know it will be out soon increases happiness, right? If, that is, you’re one of those people who wants to read the prequel but doesn’t do ebooks.
Why has it taken two years to get a paper edition? Two reasons that are really one reason: It’s a lot of work, even with help, and it was too depressing. When the cancellation of the series happened, I was really really down about it, and doing all the work needed for a self-published POD Twenty Palaces would have been too painful. Now, with a little distance, it’s more manageable.
With luck, it will be available by Christmas time.
You know what’s fun? A government empowered to steal your personal belongings (your car, your house, your cash, your jewelry) for trumped up reasons, and makes it impossible to get them back. And it’s all perfectly legal.
Even better, if you’re curious about a real-life villain that would be too smarmy for fiction, just read through to the very end. Team Drugbust! Team Jesus! If you’re on those teams, you can do anything at all and you’re still a virtuous person.
This is something I read about a few years ago but never forgot.
It seems there was a day care center that had a problem with parents who picked their kids up late. The center was supposed to close at 6:30, but inevitably someone would get held up in traffic or stuck at work, and so maybe once or twice a week the young woman minding the kids always had to linger behind with one of the kids. Sure, the parents always apologized profusely, but the woman who owned the center wanted to fix things.
So she decided to start charging the parents money for being late.
Immediately, late pickups increased.
What the manager of the center didn’t understand was that the parents liked the day care workers and cared about the inconvenience they caused them. When a parent was late, Angela might miss the start of her night class, or her second job, or even just her dinner. The day care workers looked after their children, after all. There was a bond there.
But the bond was wrecked by putting a charge on it. Suddenly, being late to pick up your kid was not a harm you caused to someone you knew and liked, it was an entry on the balance sheet. Trying to close a big sale? Well, the commission will be 1500 bucks if you finish tonight. Picking up little Timmy 30 minutes late will only cost you ten dollars. That’s totally worth it.
Worse, once the social connection was broken it was difficult to reestablish it. Yeah, they took away the fees, but the late parents just didn’t feel sorry any more. What’s more, this isn’t something that’s happened only to on child care center. This is a pretty common phenomenon that shouldn’t surprise people as much as it does.
Why tell this story? Well, as Scott Lynch points out the latest World Fantasy Convention is trying to reduce no-shows to their Kaffeeklatsche events (essentially, coffee with an author and 19 other fans) by charging five pounds for the event. Sure, it’s also supposed to cover coffee and biscuits, but come on, 100 pounds for a coffee urn and some baked goods? Psh.
A much more powerful incentive to having people show up is to say that, if the number of no-shows is too small, the author will be sitting there at their table with a handful of fans while the other writers may have full tables. You don’t want to make your favorite writer feel bad, do you?
Not that it really matters to me; I’m not a convention person. But there’s no denying that a nuisance charge is likely to have the opposite of the intended effect (unless the money is not about no-shows at all…)
Last night, my Kickstarter blew past the 250% mark. This is wild, you guys. Also, I’m pretty much spending all my time away from the internet sending emails and answering messages. Stretch goals are coming, I promise.
Multi-millionaire hedonist drug addict heir raises kids about as well as you could expect. It’s a #Longread, but it’s horrifying; the system failed these kids because the system can not stand up against money. Awful.
Ann Crispin recently passed away.
I didn’t read her novels, but I still owe her a great debt. Before I was published, the work that she and Victoria Strauss (and others) have done on Writer Beware helped me separate the genuine/useful business opportunities from the scammers and the clueless wannabes. She helped explain how the business worked.
The Writer Beware site is hosted at SFWA but the information in it is for writers of every type, not just sf/f people.
She never received a red cent from me for the work she did, but it was invaluable. That she volunteered so much of her time, even during the time she was ill, is a testament to the power good people have to make the world a better place.
Rest in peace, and thank you.
Last night Twitter (and the rest of the internet) had a bit of a freak-out about Ben Affleck being cast as Batman in the new Man of Steel movie. Most of them were all: “Have we watched Daredevil and died in vain?”
But hey, remember when this guy was cast as Batman?
Good times, good times. Everyone thought he would be completely wrong for the part, and you know what? He was!
But it wasn’t his fault. Tim Burton made a Batman movie but he didn’t actually like Batman.
Remember this guy?
Head quirks aside, George Clooney was a terrific Batman, but his movie was even more ridiculous and off-putting than Keaton’s. There’s a case to be made for calling it a camp classic, I guess, but it didn’t do much for the franchise and it certainly didn’t help Clooney.
But what about Batman Begins? That was a great Batman, right? Hey, did you know how hard it is to find a picture of Bale in the mask with his mouth open? I think this is why:
Look at that damn tongue. When he’s playing other roles, t’s not such a big deal that Bale talks with his whole freaking tongue right at the front of his mouth, but the Batman mask focuses people’s attention on the actor’s mouth because that’s the only human part showing. It was the most distracting thing about the movie, even beyond the voice.
But you know what? It was still a good performance. Even better, it was a pretty good movie with a pair of good/pretty good sequels.
And now the terrible Affleck Daredevil is the cause of a lot of shirt-tearing. Well, I’m going to come out and say it: The problem with Daredevil was the movie itself, not the performance. Affleck’s name is the one everyone knows, but he wasn’t to blame for that script (with Murdock kung fu fighting in his civvies to flirt with Elektra) or the ridiculous cgi and sound effects. There were several scenes that worked, and part of the reason they worked was Affleck’s performance (I’m thinking about the aftermath of the fight in the bar specifically).
I wanted to drop in a clip of the more egregious fake effects here, but Fox is careful about yanking its IP off YouTube.
So Affleck’s performance as Batman will be well-received in large part depending on how the script is written, how the scenes are shot, and a thousand other factors. Batman movies have reached the point of being franchises, like James Bond; it’s no longer enough for most of the audience to say “Batman movie!” and get people to line up. You need to make an actually decent movie. Like Clooney, Affleck will be remembered by the quality of the film he’s in.
Did I mention it’s being directed by Zach Snyder?
Most people will be remembering for the years he spent playing a Klingon or many other roles, but this was his most powerful role to me.
I didn’t have a lot of interest in superhero cartoons until this episode and this performance. After years of quipping villains, his Mr. Freeze was electrifying.
A great performance on a terrific show. Rest in peace.