Randomness for 8/11

Standard

1) Gambit’s costume is completely ridiculous, so this guy made one. h/t James Nicoll.

2) If David Lynch directed Dirty Dancing. Video.

3) Black leather dragon backpack. I’d get this, but it would make the toddlers in the Starbucks cry.

4) What your favorite 80s band says about you. This is better than it has a right to be.

5) More dice shaming!

6) Guardians of the Galaxy and The Lego Movie: the same movie.

7) Was HP Lovecraft a good writer? Nick Mamatas makes the argument that he was.

Writing and physical pain

Standard

Last night I was trading tweets with a writer who has been having serious pain for a long while, and we joked about how much it would help her to know my wife.

And it’s true. My wife does sports massage (as I’ve mentioned before) and she takes away pain for a lot of people. Folks fly from the east coast so she can work on them, because they just can’t find anyone as effective where they are. She’s worked on sports stars, rock stars, and movie stars, along with office workers who went from never doing any kind of exercise directly to Crossfit, and who can barely walk around.[1]

Anyway, I mentioned this to my wife and she immediately responded with “Where does she live?” because obviously her first idea was to work something out with this author. Sadly, the answer was “Not nearby.”

After that, her next recommendation was this book: Pain Free at Your PC by Pete Egoscue, although she said Pain Free for Women: The Revolutionary Program for Ending Chronic Pain is even better.

It’s been a few years since I glanced into these books and I can’t find them now, almost certainly because they were loaned out and never returned, but I remember them as being fairly free of woo-woo [2] but heavy on recuperative movement. And I don’t mean “My wrist hurts; I have to do wrist exercises.” It’s more focused on healing specific issues through changes in the entire body.

Also, anyone who is having chronic soft tissue pain right at this moment might find some relief doing a vasioflush, which is really just the alternating application of cold and heat, described in more detail in this post I wrote for Charlie Stross’s blog.

Obviously, these recommendations will only work for people with soft tissue pain: posture problems, overuse of certain muscles, muscle imbalance, muscles that are very weak and tight, that sort of thing.

You don’t have to live in this kind of pain.

[1] And, frankly, after twenty years of doing the same thing every day, she’s become a bit bored with it. She would write a book if her learning disabilities didn’t make that all but impossible. I’d help her if my work load weren’t so heavy. She would teach if she had any inclination to be a teacher (and if teaching in the massage world weren’t so filled with weird guru types). It’s a shame, because she’s extremely good at what she does, but it’s a physically demanding job and she doesn’t have anywhere to go next.

Of course, if The Great Way does really well, she won’t have to worry about that anymore, but no pressure on me.

[2] Woo-woo is defined here as “You must align your energies with the universe” -type talk. And while the two books I’m recommending here are fine, some of his later work is less helpful.

Nicole Perlman, co-writer of GotG, on bringing the movie to life

Standard

Via Emily Blake (aka @Bambookiller) on Twitter, Nicole Perlman details her contributions as the first credited female writer of a Disney Marvel Movie (the only other one is Jane Goldman, who is credited on the recent X-Men movies). Basically, the film happened because of her. She had the chance to adapt any comics she wanted and she picked Guardians of the Galaxy because she’s a space nerd who has always wanted to work on big adventure thrillers.

Read that article. It’s interesting.

[Added later: I had no idea that people are trying to erase Perlman’s contribution to the film, claiming that nothing she wrote is in the final film. Assholes.]

The funny thing is, all that outer space bullshit is perfect camouflage for a movie about superpowers. You have all the high tech gadgets you want and alien physiology creates a fantastic excuse for outre abilities–no radioactive spiders needed.

That’s part of the reason Blade was such a successful franchise for Marvel after so many failures: the superpowers weren’t. They were just vampire abilites.

This is why I think Dr. Strange is a natural for the screen, provided they don’t make the plot a bullshit “Stop the ritual!” chase, which never works. He’s a grownup Harry Potter; it’s easy.

Anyway, Marvel has tried many times to make outer space happen in a big way and it never really lasts. For whatever reason, space stuff doesn’t play well in comics. Sure, you can have the odd adventure off-planet and more than a few alien characters, but comic book series set in outer space just don’t last.

However, they’re a natural for movies.

I only wish I’d gotten to see Glenn Close, as Nova Prime, wearing that helmet. Hey, Robert Redford said “Hail Hydra,” didn’t he?

Scrubbing a certain word from my blog

Standard

I’ve always hated the words “pron” and “pr0n.” It always seemed like prudery. Nihil veritas erubescit, I say.

Well, no more. I still don’t blush at the word, but I won’t be spelling “pron” correctly on this blog any more, not even when I use it jokingly to refer to writer pron or whatever.

See, WordPress’s Jet Pack plugin allows me to see the search terms that Googlers use to find my blog, and many of them are searching for child pron. What fucking moron types “little girl pron” (spelled correctly, mind you) into a Google search box?

Unfortunately, I can’t do anything to report these people (I hope Google can) but I can at least change my site so that search engines will (eventually) stop sending them here, where I occasionally talk about my son. So I’ve spent the last hour searching my blog and deliberately misspelling That Word, even when it appears in fiction samples. The only place I haven’t changed it is in URLs inside links, but I may scrub those, too, eventually.

[Update: per advice from Twitter, the URL links are gone, too. I had to drop two old posts into the trash until (if) I can work out a way to reinstate them with permanent short link/redirects.)

Randomness for 7/16

Standard

1) Weapons confiscated by the TSA.

2) The technology to rip off your card when you use an atm is becoming advanced.

3) Turning Facebook covers and profile pics into art.

4) Casting letter shows alternate actors considered for ST:TNG. Jenny Agutter as Beverly Crusher? Wesley Snipes and Geordi? Kevin Peter Hall as Data? Yaphet Kotto as Picard? Huh.

5) Artist recreates his childhood drawing 20 years later. Wow.

6) Burned, abandoned, flooded mall has become home to koi and catfish.

7) Top 10 Most Effective Editing Moments of All Time, according to Cinefex. Video.

Helicopter parent? We mock you. Not a helicopter parent? Handcuffs.

Link

One of the trends the media has been enjoying for *years* is making fun of so-called helicopter parents–parents who constantly hover around their kids, standing guard over everything they do. What worry-worts, right?

And yet, what happens when a parent lets their kid play outside in the park without a helicopter? They get arrested.

Is there any other developed country that hates its working poor as much at the U.S.A.?

Prince’s Recording of Purple Rain (annotated)

Video

[Update: I assume the copyright claim that pulled the video offline is an automated one, since this was clearly fair use. Shit.]

I didn’t realize Purple Rain was actually performed live and edited for inclusion in the album. You can see the full live version here, with notes about what was changed. I’m not a huge Prince fan, but this is interesting.

Randomness for 7/12

Standard

1) The best one-star review ever.

2) Ingmar Bergman’s THE FLASH. Video. #lol

3) 25 Pictures Of Lesbian Sex According To Stock Photography #15, wtf?

4) A film from 1943 or 1944 with a British major demonstrating knife-fighting techniques. Dubbed into Greek but subtitled in English. Video.

5) Books with almost identical covers.

6) Baking projects that didn’t turn out like their photos.

7) Top ten pictures of pie eaters.

Randomness for 7/8

Link

1) How to save a rusty ruined cast iron skillet.

2) Dad photoshops young daughter into sf/f movies.

3) Insights from a real sword fight.

4) Authors dress up as their favorite characters.

5) “There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.” Frankly, I say this fossil isn’t scary enough for the name.

6) Ten ridiculous Kickstarter campaigns people actually supported

7) Conversation with Twitter bots draws in Bank of America. #lol

“So what then is an indie author to do?”

Standard

I’m linking to a blog post from last January, but I think this is worth talking about. Besides, I only saw a link to it from @EvilWylie this morning. It’s supposed to be advice about reviews and what an author should do about them, but it’s the worst advice you could ever find, short of kidnapping reviewers so you can hunt them on your private game reserve.

[Update: that link leads to a 404 page now. Apparently he’s pulled it down.]

Context: apparently the author sometimes receives Amazon reviews giving his books only one or two stars, and that is not allowed.

He starts by saying he never leaves reviews with less than four stars, which is perfectly sensible as policies go. There are a lot of people who prefer to be silent rather than talk a book down. Positivity, amirite?

Then he starts talking about the sort of people who *would* leave a two- or one-star review, and immediately it becomes about “holier than thou Grammar Nazi[s]” who don’t understand how hard indie authors work on their books! And are just like those awful elitist college professors. Or something. Plus, all books have errors in them, so why do these reviewers have to be so fussy?

But what to DO? The first suggestion he makes is, if it’s the first review, to unpublish and republish the book so the review will be lost. Also, maybe–just maybe–the author should consider the possibility that they need to take another editorial pass.

Next, he suggests talking to the reviewer, maybe asking for their help, because it’s possible that a person leaving a negative review is not a bad person.

No, seriously, that’s what he says:

Often a reviewer doesn’t take into consideration of the impact a bad review can have on your sales. They may not even be bad people.

Look at that fuckery. In fact, let’s highlight something: They may not even be bad people.

Let’s get to the point, because this is the point right here: Just because someone does something you don’t like and/or is actually harmful to you, does not mean that person is attacking you personally. How people manage to bumble into adulthood without learning this, I’ll never know, but it’s a simple fact. Okay? “I feel pain” does not necessarily lead to “You tried to hurt me” even if they’re college professors.

So the author suggests talking to the reviewer politely, asking for tips to make things better. In his first example, this works out fine because the reviewer takes the time to respond, offer help, and improve the author’s work. Wasn’t that kind of them? They even changed the review.

But what happens to a reviewer who leaves a negative review but doesn’t respond to the author’s request for help? What if they don’t want to take time out of their day to point out the errors they found or beta-read a project?

So what then is an indie author to do? Well this is where we as indies have to stick together. This is trench warfare people… anything goes.

Clearly, the solution is to find a bunch of other authors to go on the attack:

I called on some friends to discredit the review, promising to do the same for them should the need ever arise. I’ve made a lot of friends in indie author community through kindlemojo. I asked some of fellow authors to write comments in this fellow’s review.

OMG, I had no idea that some of them were going to be as vicious as they were. The looked up this guys history and saw that he mostly liked to review video games and painted him as a mommy’s boy living in her basement with nothing better to do. They got personal with him as well – it was getting quite ugly – but in a good way. One of the comments even accused him of being a mole of the big 6. However most were simple rebuttals to the unfair review. Someone even pointed him to the article I reblogged about how the first mass marketed Harry Potter novel had over 200 typos. After a few days of the onslaught he took the review down.

Let’s highlight something else here: They got personal with him as well – it was getting quite ugly – but in a good way.

Hey, there is no good way to get personal with a reader who left a negative review. The author includes a quoted text of the review in question (not a screencap, because as they said they bullied the reader into dropping it) that states the one-star is because the reader found four typos, but even if we were assume the review really was that extreme, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter who posted the review or why, you leave it alone.

I have a one-star review that I know for a fact was payback for an online scuffle. Whatever. I leave it alone. There’s a one-star review on the Goodreads page for Game of Cages that mocks the book for an error that doesn’t actually exist: the reviewer misread the scene. What’s more, she has a ton of likes for that review and it pops up at the top of the page. Whatever. I leave it alone.

One thing indie authors like the dude I linked above could learn from traditionally-published ones is professionalism regarding reviews: Leave them alone. They’re written for the benefit of other readers, not for the author (or the author’s marketing efforts).

Don’t attack people because they say they don’t like your book. Even if you think they didn’t read it or they’re just taking a dig at you–even if you know both of these things for a fact–it’s completely unprofessional to silence readers’ opinions in readers’ spaces, whether by unpublishing the book or through an “onslaught” when they refuse to help you fix your mistakes for free. If it bothers you so much, do what other authors do: stop reading your reviews.