Scrubbing a certain word from my blog

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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

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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.

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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)

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[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

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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

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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?”

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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.

Five Things Make A Post

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First, my Father’s Day was pretty great. I asked to get no gifts and didn’t receive any but the cards were wonderful. We also went out to brunch. My wife is pretty cool on the idea of going to a restaurant for breakfast–and my son actively hates it–so this is something I sorta love but get to do only once a year. And yeah, I ate more than I should have.

We went some distance to a little place called Mulleady’s, mainly on the rule that we could get things we never make at home, like blood pudding, boxty, scotch eggs, and other things we didn’t order. Sadly, marrow wasn’t on the bfast menu, but maybe another time. One downside of going there is that it really doesn’t many people before it becomes uncomfortably loud.

Second, you may have seen news articles everywhere recently claiming that bike share programs increase head injuries. They’re wrong. Head injuries fell after bike share programs were introduced, but they didn’t fall as fast as other kinds of injuries. Therefore, according to the media, head injuries rose because, among those injured, a greater percentage of them had head injuries.

It’s statistical fuckery. To quote the linked article: “A more critical view would be that the researchers went looking for evidence that bikeshare programs are dangerous, and upon failing to find any, cherry-picked a relatively unimportant sub-trend and trumpeted it as decisive finding.”

My wife rides almost every day and she always wears her helmet. When I rode (back in my office job days) I wore a helmet all the time, too. We also have lights, reflective vests, and all the safety gear that people make fun of. But it’s important to remember that nothing makes the streets safer for cyclists than having a whole lot of cyclists on the streets.

Third, I’ve sent out copies of The Great Way in hopes of getting blurbs for them, and the first two have come back. Both are wonderful and make me feel like dancing around my apartment singing “I Feel Pretty.”

Fourth, I’m currently at work revising my pacifist urban fantasy, and never in my life have I had so much trouble making headway. My revisions are creeping along at a pace barely better than my first draft days. Stuff is difficult, you guys.

Fifth, I bought the first edition of CHILL (by Pacesetter) way back when it first came out. I bought the second edition enthusiastically, and when I made that six-figure deal for Child of Fire, I rewarded myself by buying up all the Chill books I didn’t already own.

Even though the game is pretty much unplayable.

Pacesetter’s first ed. was fun and had simple game mechanics. Mayfair’s second edition improved on things, but still couldn’t deal with Fear checks. You could prep a haunted house, prep the monster that would be there, arrange the clues the players needed to find or the person they needed to save, but what you couldn’t do was predict who would pass a Fear check. If all the players made it, the monster would not be able to stand against them. If only one made it, that player would have to face a villain designed to challenge a party while his compatriots ran screaming into the streets.

It was impossible to create a balanced confrontation, because you could never tell how many players would make that Fear check (the first thing to happen in every encounter), so you didn’t know which would stay in the scene.

And let’s be honest, any time a GM takes control of a player it sort of sucks, especially if you make the run in terror.

So, none of the games I tried to get off the ground ever went anywhere. My friends had no interest in horror games, since they’re pretty much the opposite of jokey power fantasies, and the only truly successful Chill game I ever ran was with my six-year-old son, and it was one session.

Still, it was great fun to read, and now I’m foolishly excited to see that, after a couple of false starts, there’s a third edition on the way. The previous attempt at a third edition got as far as informal play tests, which I took part in until assholes drove me away, but I’m hopeful for this. I don’t even know anything about the game, but I’m foolishly hopeful.

Not everyone celebrates Father’s Day, nor should they.

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C.C. Finlay talks about terrible fathers.

Let’s not make everyone celebrate. And let’s not ever talk about “all dads.” That’s a category without meaning. To everyone who doesn’t celebrate Father’s Day, to everyone who avoids it because it brings up too many painful memories, this post is for you.

Randomness for 6/12

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1) 20 Terrible Real Estate Photos. It’s hard to believe some of these are real. via Beth Pearson

2) Man Builds DIY ‘Hidden Pool’ In His Backyard That Disappears Under a Grass-Covered Top When Not in Use.

3) Man trolls Craigslist ad searching for “disguisable” weapons.

4) The Holy Taco Church. It’s funny, but I just sold a story to John Joseph Adams about a (mobile) taco church for his anthology of sff kickstarters. You think you’re being outlandish….

5) Tracking Detroit’s Decay Through Google Time Machine.

6) A review of Ancient Germanic Warriors: Warrior Styles from Trajan’s Column to Icelandic Sagas.

7) Know your double. <– Funny