Randomness for 4/19

1) Baby noises edited into beatboxing. Video.

2) Every live action Marvel movie from 1998 ranked. I’d quibble with some of the rankings, but who wouldn’t? Also, there was no excuse for Elektra being so terrible.

3) The Ten Most Deadly Rocks And Minerals. h/t Kat Richardson

4) The placebo effects of food labeling.

5) Metal Albums With Googly Eyes, a Tumblr.

6) Time is a flat Family Circus, a Tumblr.

7) The best resignation letter ever.

9 Apr 2014, 7:58am
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Captain America, Anti-Hero?

Now that CAPTAIN AMERICA 2: THE WINTER SOLDIER has had a gigantic opening weekend, people are starting to talk about how it ought to have been done.

Take this post on Vulture, which says that Cap would be interesting if he was a prick. As supporting evidence, the author trots out Millar’s repugnant characterization of Steve Rogers in the first few Ultimates comics, adding this panel to his post:

Captain Freeper

Do we really think a guy who actually fought the Nazis would have the same opinion of France as some random member of the freeper cheetotariat? Yes, the Nazis attacked and occupied France in WW2. You know what we call people who mock victims of the Nazi war machine? Assholes.

So try to guess how impressed I am by the idea that Steve Rogers isn’t actually interesting unless he’s being some kind of jerk. (Not very.) There’s a weird mentality in comics that treats cynicism, misanthropy, and nihilism are somehow more mature than idealism; it’s a teenage boy’s idea of agency. It’s all about contempt: for people without power, for social rules and bonds, and for compassion. It’s a hero who “Does what has to be done,” which the narrative conveniently frames as acting like a ruthless thug.

But none of these stories are being created by teenage boys: it’s middle-aged adults, whether we’re talking about The Boys, or Wanted, or one of the New 52 storylines (like the much-discussed new Harley Quinn or Starfire, or the bit about the Joker’s face) that rub their hands together gleefully and sell ever-shrinking numbers of copies to their aging audiences. Clearly, the author of the Vulture article is deep into this mindset; why else discuss (and post a panel from) part of a story where Bucky is made out to be the killer that Captain America could never be, as though the American people couldn’t accept a WW2 soldier who kills Nazis? [1]

Nevermind that, based on where Cap was born and raised, he’s unlikely to be the France-mocking conservative reactionary the Vulture writer seems to expect. Nevermind that the big wave of anti-heroes seems to have passed and left us with very few lasting characters. [2]

More interesting is that Captain America has been around, and been successful, for decades. Comic book characters come and go and they always have. Some are superpopular and fade away. Some keep getting reinvented without really breaking out. Some fade into obscurity. How many times has Marvel tried to launch a Dr. Strange comic to middling sales and eventual cancellation? [3]

Most of these characters stick around. They’re ongoing IP, turning up in other characters’ stories, but they can’t sustain their own ongoing series.

Cap is one of those who can. Forget about the ridiculous costume (which they had fun mocking in THE FIRST AVENGER), he’s been popular for a long time, even with readers like me, who are not exactly overflowing with reflexive patriotism. He works in the comics (and has for decades). He works in the movies (as you can see by the box office and rave reviews). Where so many others have failed, he continues.

Instead of saying he needs to be roughed up to make him interesting, it would be worthwhile to figure out why he’s already successful. [4] I suspect it’s because the conflict is not inside him, it’s between his ideals and the distinctly non-ideal world around him. No anti-heroes necessary.

My spoiler-filled review of CA2: THE WINTER SOLDIER here.

[1] Yes, there were years when comics were ridiculous about the death toll that would come from superpowered combat in Manhattan. “Thank goodness the buildings the Hulk just collapsed were all condemned! Someone might have gotten hurt!” When comics became more realistic about the damage their fights could do, that was a welcome development. I just wish it hadn’t gone so far.

[2] Wither art thou, Darkhawk? What about you, Maggot? Shatterstar?

[3] Not that I have anything against Dr. Strange, who ought to be a wildly successful character, with the right writer.

[4] A trade collecting part of Mark Waid’s run is pretty much the only superhero comic my son has ever enjoyed.

Randomness for 4/8

1) What is NeoRealism? Video. Extraordinarily interesting contrast between neorealist and Hollywood movie techniques. h/t @RodneyRamsey

2) The Uncomfortable, a collection of deliberately uncomfortable everyday objects.

3) Sony gets Blender-made animated short pulled from YouTube even though they have no copyright claim to it. You can still watch it on Vimeo, though.

4) Vatican to digitize 41 million pages of ancient manuscripts. Of course, the manuscript pages themselves will outlast whatever file type the Vatican chooses to put them in.

5) Workouts inspired by your favorite fandoms. Heh.

6) What if the moon was a disco ball? Video. A question we’ve all asked at one point or another.

7) The Love Me Letters, Open Letters to Random People.

1 Apr 2014, 6:47am
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A Regression Analysis Comparing Box Office With Meta-critic Ratings

Boom.

Quality didn’t much affect earnings on opening weekend, but after that? The better the rating, the more money. Check it out.

Oh, and I know what day it is, but this isn’t a prank.

Randomness for 3/25

1) The inevitable D&D-themed yoga. So cool, Brewster.

2) True Detective as Hardy Boy’s style covers.

3) I have never been as deeply moved by anything as this lady is about curtains. True salesmanship. Video.

4) The High Five Camera. Video.

5) Which pet should I get? A Flowchart.

6) Visual charts showing how people around the world communicate. Very interesting and completely authentic, I’m sure.

7) The ten words in English with the most meanings. Another chart.

Let’s face it: these links won’t be getting their own blog posts

Like most people, I follow a link or check out an article and think “I should share that with folks!” Twitter’s good if you have nothing in particular to say about it (or just want to add something snarky), but some stuff deserves to be talked about. Well, I’ve gotten in the habit of leaving browser tabs open that I want to get to later, then leaving them sit for way too long. Blogging! Who has the time!

So, instead of just giving up and closing those tabs, I’m going to list them here with a little note about why I thought they were worth reading about:

To Stop Procrastinating, Look to Science of Mood Repair. Note: this article did not get me to write an extensive response to it.

Amazon-owned Audible lowers royalty rates on self-published audiobooks Is this the first sign of the long-expected rise in Amazon’s sales commissions?

Ian Rankin: ‘It took 14 years for my writing to pay’ Bestselling UK writer talks about how long it took him to find success. Ten books! Funny, after this Kickstarter is done, I’ll have ten books out, too…

From bestseller to bust: is this the end of an author’s life? A lament on the fact that nothing is guaranteed for writers, especially sales. No mention is made of the economic collapse, of course.

Making Compelling Arguments through the Power of Story Author (and professional marketer) Kameron Hurley offers great advice on writing blog posts people will want to share.

I thought this was interesting: So What Do You Do Brendan Deneen, Executive Editor of Macmillan Entertainment? Short version: he hires writers to write work-for-hire novels in company properties, which he then sells to Hollywood.

The Internet is Fucked (but we can fix it) An argument to declare the internet a public utility, create real competition, and fix the terrible internet-access situation in this country. I’m sold.

Is Genre Fiction Creating a Market for Lemons? Cheap ebooks as used cars.

Is the “Seattle Freeze” a Real Thing? Science says yes! For those who don’t know, the Seattle Freeze is a sort of chilly demeanor that makes it difficult for new arrivals to make friends.

Randomness for 3/6

1) First sentences of famous novels, diagrammed.

2) Guy creates Kickstarter to interview loving couples to find out what makes relationships last. His results.

3) Pedestrian rollercoaster not as cool as it looks. Why couldn’t they just make the stairs twist so you could go up the loop?

4) Medieval Pet Names.

5) Ursula Vernon on becoming tired of reading fantasy. I’m having similar feelings.

6) Star Trek Into Darkness: What Came Next. lol

7) In 2005, a fifth-grader wrote a letter to her 20-year-old self.

5 Mar 2014, 6:38am
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Using Scrivener, once again

There comes a point when you’re (I’m) typing a long comment somewhere and a simple thought suddenly springs up: I should be posting this to my own blog!

Well, I’ll link to it instead. Author Sherwood Smith is working on a switch from her old word processing program to Scrivener, and I thought I would share the (rather simplistic) way that I use it. It’s not exactly in-depth, but it’s what I’ve managed to kludge together from all the bells and whistles the program contains.

Anyway, check it out. If you use Scrivener or are thinking of switching to it, there might be something useful there.

Also, if you haven’t read Sherwood’s work, I liked Inda but she has newer stuff, too.

Link farm for informed critiques of the Author Earnings report

ObDisclaimer: I self-publish fiction and plan to self-publish more fiction this year. I am not philosophically opposed to the Author Earnings Report that Hugh Howey has begun. I am seriously dubious about several of its conclusions and some of the ways they are presented. For example, I don’t like that his comparison of reader ratings runs only from 3.0 to 4.5 instead of from 0 to 5, which is the actual possible range. Anyone who has looked at graphs knows that “zooming in” is a way to make minor differences appear more important than they are.

Also, Howey is planning to do additional surveys to include vendors like B&N but he’s already rushing to judgement on the “best” path for authors after only looking at Amazon data.

To be clear, I would like it to be true that self-publishing will bring in a lot of money; I’m just skeptical of Howey’s report and waiting for some expert analysis. As I find that analysis, I plan to link to it.

That’s what this post will be. I don’t plan to link to praise or skepticism here unless it actually examines the methodology of the report. So:

2/13/14:
Digital Book World points out that the AE report is heavily focused on successes. See also this unrelated post on Survivorship Bias which predates the AE report.

UK Crime Writer Steve Mosby points out an excluded middle in Howey’s conclusions, along with raising other questions.

On Absolute Write, author S.L. Huang points out problems with the statistics and what’s excluded, along with other issues.

Agent Joshua Bilmes points out this isn’t the first time someone has tried to calculate earnings based on a list of bestsellers and that Amazon’s rating system is hopelessly compromised.

In the comments of the AE report, author Ramez Naam points out some basic errors in assuming royalties (even if they could be accurately calculated by Amazon sales ranks) equal payments to writers going the traditional route. There are a great many comments on the report itself, but few are substantive.

A more in-depth comparison of pricing and rating.

Later:

Comparing self-publishing to being published is tricky and most of the data you need to do it right is not available by Mike Shatzkin

2/14/14:

Porter Anderson talks about the cultural push behind the report and against it. However flawed it is, it’s seen as a powerful argument.

At Futurebook, Philip Jones lays out the contradictions between Howey’s admissions of his flawed data and his sweeping conclusions.

Digital Book World, which had criticized Howey’s report yesterday (see above) now claims it supports their own (much disputed by indie authors) findings.

I’d meant to include only analytical posts, but this is something I see quite a lot:

First let’s be clear. This data is pretty shonky. There’s no real way to tell how accurate it is. But, in the absence of transparency from the industry itself (either Amazon of the Big 5) it’s the best data we writers have access to. And the story it tells is shocking.

So the data is “shonky” but the narrative is too exciting not to buy in. So far, this is a very common reaction.

Jim Hanas calculates his “Hugh Howey Income.” Mine is zero dollars, which is, I promise you, wildly incorrect.

2/16/14:

This post by a person who creates studies and databases will likely be the last one, because it’s just what I was looking for. The author of the critique has no bias one way or another in terms of how to publish fiction, and she has informed and detailed critiques of not only the way the data was put together but by the sweeping conclusions that Howey presents. h/t @mlvwrites on Twitter

I’ll add more of these as they cross my path. I think that last one does it. If there’s another critique as informed that touches other issues, I’ll add it but I won’t be actively looking any more. Also, I plan to write up a little something later on, summarizing what seems to be going on with this report and the furor around it.

Spoke too soon: This examination of Howey’s methods by Courtney Milan is really excellent.

12 Feb 2014, 11:24pm
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The Mallory Ortberg Appreciation Society

Anyone who’s been reading my Randomness posts will recognize the name in the subject header: She’s one of the writers and editors of The Toast, and she’s hilarious. For example:

Your Constant Vigilance Is The Only Thing Keeping The Shape At Your Window From Coming Inside

It’s A Bunch of Years After The War And Everything Is Different


Things That Actually Happened In The Movie Vampire Academy, A Movie That Is About An Academy For Vampires

“Are You There God? It’s Me, MacGyver.”

A Gender-Flipped Version of “The Bodyguard” Starring Kanye West and Brienne From Game of Thrones

There Is A Book Inside Of You (I’m so, so sorry.)

She’s funny, and I’m not wildly envious of her ability. Just, you know, somewhat envious.

Also, I made my son read “After the war…” because he’s big on the dystopias and after he finished he turned to me and said “That’s every book I’ve ever read.” I didn’t tell him that was because he won’t read mine.

Randomness for 2/11

1) An alternate history of “Flappy Bird” a successful game that was pulled from sale because of the gamers abused its creator.

2) Marvel opens its image archive and api to the public. I’m pretty sure this is cool, and if I were ten years younger I might understand why.

3) Calvin and Muad’Dib. Calvin & Hobbes cartoons with quotes from Dune to replace the dialog.

4) Teddy Roosevelt’s 10 Rules for Reading. Sensible guy.

5) Male artist creates art show with woman’s art, doesn’t feel he needs to name her.

6) An Infinity of Alternate Batmen.

7) Well, Valentine’s Day is coming, and this tumblr has created Valentine’s messages from actual comments on Pornhub. NSFW, obviously.

Women online receive threats of physical harm, part 2,000,342

How surprised would anyone be to learn that Shay Festa, the “Quid Pro Quo” book review blogger I wrote about over the weekend has not only been called a cunt and a bitch but has also received threats of physical harm?

Over a book review policy?

I really, really hope that no one who followed one of my links to her site was involved in that at all, because if my blog posts start inspiring threats against women online, I’m not going to write them. It’s not worth it at all.

In the meantime, I want to thank Michelle Sagara for pointing out this blog post: Reviews: A Service for Authors? by Chrysoula Tzavelas.

The gist of Tzavels’s post is that the Bookiemonster site is open to reviews by indie authors, who constantly struggle to get reviews of their work so they can stand out from the crowd. She suspects (and the request for more reviewers seems to confirm) that they’re inundated with books from people with little other opportunity to find critical attention and who are desperate to stand out from the pack. Self-published writers are likely to be a major portion of the Bookiemonster readership, too. You know, in the old days of the turn of the century, it was a truism that the main readership for self-published fiction was other self-publishers. They were all reading each other’s work. I thought that had finally changed with the release of ereaders, but maybe not for everyone. Maybe it’s only the bestselling self-pub and hybrid authors with a readership beyond other authors in the long tail. I’d be interested to know where that stands.

Anyway, it demonstrates the way subtle pressures can drive people to make decisions they wouldn’t ordinarily make. Like doctors who, with only their patients’ best interests in mind (as far as they’re concerned), schedule as much followup care as they need to make their monthly nut, so too does a site like Bookiemonster respond to subtle incentives. I had recommended that Ms. Festa turn to her readership for the SEO books she was seeking; readers are incredibly generous, especially if they’re grateful for the writing being offered. What hadn’t occurred to me was that the readers and the writers might be pretty much one and the same.

In any event, none of that matters now. Ms. Festa has posted a mea culpa followup post called Sometimes We Just Get It Wrong, in which she expresses gratitude for the non-vicious, non-threatening feedback people have given her and withdraws the whole idea of asking authors for likes, follows, and upvotes. I will say: far too many people would have looked at the most extreme criticisms she received–the name-calling and the threats–and used that to dismiss all criticism. That’s what Bill Keller did after his disgusting editorial about cancer patients and social media, and that dude writes for the NY Times. It’s to her credit that she sorted the rage-aholics from the fair responses, even ones that were extremely critical, like mine.

And that’s that.

30 Jan 2014, 8:55am
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Kameron Hurley’s post on persistence

Last week, Kameron Hurley wrote a long guest blog on writers and persistence. If the descriptor ‘long’ makes you hesitate to click, be assured that she does that writer trick of being interesting the whole way through.

She makes a good point: Persistence is how it’s done. And by “it’s” I mean “become a professional writer”.

However, there are a few things I want to add, because I don’t think “You have to be persistent” is enough. I think it’s useful to talk about how, as well, and that sometimes persistence is bullshit because the goal is bullshit. So:

1. Persistence is just the pursuit of the goal via managed expectations and the certainty that writing professionally is a thing that can be learned. That’s it. If you can stop yourself from thinking “This book I’m writing is going to win an award/make me rich/get me laid/win the admiration of the right people” that’s half the battle. The other half is recognizing that, even if you fail this time, you can do better next time.

Okay, not everyone can improve. If you’re in a coma, no. If you’re so convinced you’re already a genius that you think every rejection Proves What Fools They Are, no. If you’re incapable of learning that text affects readers in ways that the writer might not intend, no. But for someone who can pick up a manuscript they “finished” last year and think “Look at this paragraph! I’m not still making this mistake, am I?” there’s no reason to expect they can’t make their goals.

Plus, it’s the big goals–that vile four-letter word: hope–that breaks the will to write. Like a weary traveler, writers think their destination is just over this next hill. And the hill is so steep and muddy and exhausting, they force themselves to push on, only to discover that the other side is just more road leading off into the distance.

If you fervently hope this is the book that will win an award or become a bestseller, and it doesn’t? That shit is disheartening as hell.

Plus:

2. Nothing bad happens to you if you give up.

Sure, you probably won’t finish that book, but if you get more time to spend with your friends, go hiking, maybe volunteer at a food bank? I can’t really see how that’s a bad thing.

The point has to be this: Do you want to write more than you want to do other things? Video games/TV shows/Other time wasters notwithstanding, if creating literature is not really what you want to do, you might as well be doing something else. You’ll be better off. Fuck persistence.

3. I know some people will bridle at the word “literature” but that’s what writers make, even if it’s Bigfoot porn. Maybe it’s not great literature, maybe it’s rote, or trite, or commercial or derivative. Maybe it’s a big steaming pile of goatshit. Who cares?

4. The point is, it’s really really hard to put aside those big expectations, but one of the best ways to do that is to drill your focus on the book. Whenever I start daydreaming about the reception my book might get (basically, whenever I get weird, starry-eyed high hopes) I stop, remind myself that those thoughts are poison, then refocus my attention on the characters, the voice, the plot. Whatever. Not only does this help throttle the strength out of Hope, that miserable enemy of all good things, but it helps keep my energy and effort where it belongs.

5. What’s more, the idea of a “successful writer” (earning enough to forsake all other employment) is a really strange thing. As Ursula Vernon says, pro writers are simultaneously “fetishized and devalued.” As soon as you start finding fans for your work, people encourage you to toss your day job. Then they complain to you in emails that they got a computer virus from a pirate copy of your book and where can they find one that’s safe and free?

The truth is, writing as a day job is completely awesome and completely nerve-wracking. Not everyone wants to spend harrowing hours wondering if they can pay their rent, or tightening their food budget yet again until that check turns up. Add to that the unhappy fact that a great many writers outlive their own careers and you have a pretty stupid career choice.

And, even if you keep the day job, Persisting can take up a helluva lot of your free time.

But let’s say you want to go for it anyway and stick with Persistence:

6. As I mentioned above: big daydreams are poison. If you can be zen about how well the book will do after you finish, that’s great. If you can’t, there are a few tricks that can help distract us from inflated expectations: first, pay attention to how much a mid-list author makes and how many copies they sell. That’s where realistic expectations should be set. Whatever genre you work in, someone out there is sharing their numbers. Check them out.

Second, a trick I use is that I don’t write for a large audience. I pick three people to write for. They become my primary readers. I choose new ones for each book and never tell them, but when it’s time to ask myself how a scene will play for the reader, I don’t have to picture a long line of people in line at B&N. I have specific people in mind: Will she feel cheated by this revelation? Will he like the way this character changes?

Even if I don’t know anything about them except what they post on their blogs (and yeah, some of the primary readers are pretty much strangers to me) I can do the important work of imagining the effect of the story without poisoning myself.

7. Not matter what anyone says about talent, inborn ability, natural aptitude, or whatever, people can teach themselves to write better. I mean, seriously, if there’s a placebo effect for sleep, there’s a way to improve writing, too. Obviously, that subject is too big for this post, but knowing it to be true is the important thing. You don’t have to give up after any one particular failure.

8. But what if you do all these things but still can’t make persistence work?

Hey, for a person struggling with depression, who’s caring for a sick loved one, who is utterly freaked over impending job loss, or who is generally overwhelmed by life, no worries. Writing is secondary to all sorts of other things, like health and family. Don’t be hard on yourself.

If you’d like to be writing but you seem to spend all your time hanging with friends, checking Twitter, watching TV, or shooting zombies on your Xbox, see about about nothing bad happening if you give up that dream of being a writer. It’s kind of a dumb dream and you clearly would rather be doing something else.

9. Oh, what’s that? You really would like to put aside the games and internet and do the persistence thing, but it never seems to happen?

First, put the distractions away. Alternately, take yourself away from your distractions. I write outside my home b/c my family is very disruptive. I also have an app that blocks my internet for a set period of time. Maybe that will work for you or maybe not, but give it a try.

Second, keep in mind that it is much easier to fail in the face of luxury than in adversity. For many of us, adversity spurs the spirit to strive, but luxury gives us excuses to seek pleasure right now. (I used to have a sign in my office cubicle that read “Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.” My boss didn’t get it.) Take a hard look at the luxuries in your life–even if it’s something as simple as Bejeweled or Twitter on your phone–and limit them.

Last, friends of mine used to have this game they played every day called “Fresh Ten”. Every day they would write ten new words in the WIP, then post them online. After they did that, they could close the word processor and be done for the day, or they could write a little more.

Maybe even a little more than that. Just having to do ten new words a day gave them an excuse to sit down and start. Not every day was productive (and not every writer works every day) but it’s how we build our habits.

Well, that was longer than I would have liked, but I liked Hurley’s post and wanted to respond. I’ve struggled with persistence, too, and thought it might be helpful to offer a few mental tools that I’ve used to keep going.

Like Hurley, I hung a sign at my desk regarding persistence, but mine was a quote from Calvin Coolidge:

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

If you’ve been kind enough to read this far, you deserve a reward: Kameron Hurley’s book GOD’S WAR is available on Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

26 Jan 2014, 3:52pm
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25 Jan 2014, 11:20am
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“If I were more trite I’d be successful!”

I’ve been neglecting this space lately except for link salads and new announcements (Twenty Palaces print edition! Buying from B&N earns more for me than Amazon orders do!) mostly because I’ve been on a big push to finish initial major revisions for all three books in The Great Way.

That’s done and I’ve sent them to my agent. Next I have a short story to revise and more Kickstarter work to wrap up. Unfinished tasks unrelated to actually making the trilogy include:

* Fate game supplement for TGW.
* New revision for A KEY, AN EGG, AN UNFORTUNATE REMARK.
* Fate game supplement for KEY/EGG.
* Straighten out notes for Twenty Palaces short story.
* Write Twenty Palaces short story.
* Compile that story plus others (with introductions) into a collection.
* Assorted tasks associated with all that shit, including covers.

Actually, that list doesn’t look too bad from here.

However! In an attempt to remake the habit of posting here, let me resurrect a post that I started and abandoned last July(!) regarding British crime writer John Connor, spurred by this advertisement interview.

Mostly, I was annoyed by this quote:

He says: “It’s been a struggle all along. If you come at it from the point of view of wanting to write something interesting and worthwhile and entertaining, well, those are the three things that makes it hard if you want to produce something other than some stupid trite piece of content.

“You set yourself a goal of doing any of those things in one genre. It’s easy to do two of those, but doing all three feels like one long compromise. It ended up being a long way from doing what I wanted to do at the start.”

See, Connor (actually a pen name, for some reason) is a former prosecutor, and he pretty much hates the way popular mystery and thriller writers portray crime and its effects.

Which is completely fair. He has real world experience and he can call bullshit on what he (and others, too) call the torture porn aspects of the genre. Frankly, I’m not such a big fan of torture porn either, so I’m sympathetic.

And getting the emotions right–that is, treating tragedies like tragedies and not excuses for heroic rage–is a laudable goal. He earned another measure of sympathy with that one.

Still, it’s painful to see him blaming his perfectly ordinary midlist career on his integrity. Without having read any of his books:

First of all, as pen names go, “John Connor” is terrible. It’s bland. It’s easily misspelled (as “Conner” or “Jon”). It doesn’t even let the cover designer set his last name in huge type; six letters isn’t bad, but a four-letter long last name has size. It would be more memorable if he followed Donald Westlake’s advice of using a super-common last name and an unusual first name. “Connor Johns” is a better pen name than what he’s chosen.

Second, I’ve read plenty of books by actual cops and other people with law enforcement day jobs, and while it’s great for marketing, for the most part I prefer books by outsiders.

It’s not that I’m against realism; it’s that realism often has a certain plodding flatness to it. Every job comes with a certain amount of tedium, even the sort they make hit TV shows of. That’s why you don’t give the boring rote work to the lead character; that’s for the supporting cast to explain with a phone call. That’s why you don’t have them wander aimlessly through the clues; make that shit into a trail. Be fun.

Third, if you approach your own genre with this attitude:

“I have experienced those crimes – that’s half my problem. I’ve experienced them and I know what they’re like which makes me think: ‘You can’t do that just for entertainment!’”

Maybe you should be writing something else.

#sfwapro

Randomness for 1/21

1) The flowchart of medieval penitent sex.

2) Gorgeous high-magnification sand photos.

3) 15 Massive corporate logo fails. It’s amazing how many of these look like people having sex.

4) Researchers compare language in successful and unsuccessful Kickstarters and discover trends.

5) I’m old enough not to be up on the latest music (and feel perfectly comfortable with that) but I have to offer this: a band called Prodigy did a music video called Firestarter (video) and here’s the same video, but musicless (video). Reader, I lol-ed. h/t to @robertnlee

6) Hero Forge lets you design an rpg character, then print it in 3D. Gaming miniatures aren’t really my thing, but I suspect a few of you will be interested in this.

7) Hatchet Job Of The Year Shortlist – 2013′s most negative reviews in quotes. I confess to a weakness for savage reviews and these are pretty acid.

(I’ve been seriously neglecting this space. I plan to write a note explaining why soon.)

  • The prequel to Child of Fire: see here for more details

  • Starred review from Publishers Weekly

  • Starred review from Publishers Weekly

  • Named to Publishers Weekly's "Best 100 Books of 2009" list. Get the audiobook here.

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