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|Thursday, March 13th, 2014|
|Lunacon this weekend
It's another convention weekend. This time, it's close to home, as I'm off to Westchester for Lunacon
I don't have my own dealers' table (talk to me privately if you want to know why), but I'll be hanging out at the Larry Smith Bookseller table with some of my Fantastic Books
The program is now posted, so my programming schedule looks like:
Friday, 5:30pm, Westchester Ballroom A1: "The Biggest Writing Mistakes New Authors Make" with Michael A. Ventrella (moderator), Ken Altabef, Ryk Spoor, and April Grey.
Friday, 7pm, Westchester Ballroom B: "Rumble at Lunacon" with A.L. Davroe Keith R.A. DeCandido, Glenn Hauman, KT Pinto, and Dr. James Prego.
Saturday, 2pm, Westchester Ballroom A1: "The Changing Publishing Paradigm" with Tom Doherty, Sheila Williams, John R. Douglas, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, and Neil Clarke.
Saturday, 5pm, Maple: "Galactic Domination???" with Mary Catelli, Kate Paulk, and Darrell Schweitzer.
Sunday, 12pm, Westchester Ballroom A1: "Economics in Fantasy Land" with William Freedman, Gregory Feeley, Todd Dashoff, and Kate Paulk.
Hope to see some of you there!
|Wednesday, March 12th, 2014|
|Wednesday, March 5th, 2014|
|Amazon KDP question
A question for everyone else using Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing system for ebooks:
I'm thinking that, until recently (like, last week), the "Month-to-Date Unit Sales" report also showed the income from each of those sales (which is how I knew when they were underpricing a few of my books). Those dollar (and cents) figures are no longer on the report, so I e-mailed to ask them, and their response is "the Month-to-date report doesn't ever show royalty or income information." Am I losing it, or are they messing with me?
|Saturday, February 22nd, 2014|
|Tuesday, February 18th, 2014|
|Thursday, February 13th, 2014|
|Why the Olympics start to annoy me
I’m enjoying watching the Olympics, but the announcers are starting to get to me.
This evening, it was women’s sledding. For the first run, the first competitor was an American, and she did pretty well. The second woman down the track was British, and she had a faster time, by 0.25 seconds. The announcer (the fellow with the British accent) told us she had a better time, “by two and a half tenths of a second.” Seriously? “Two and a half tenths”? It’s a sport that they measure in hundredths of a second (of which, more anon), but is it that he doesn’t recognize, or that he doesn’t think the viewers will understand, if he says “a quarter of a second”? If he was just being precise, twenty-five hundredths makes the most sense, since they’re measuring in hundredths.
And as for that precise measurement of time intervals (I probably ranted about it during the last summer Olympics, too, but it’s still annoying to me), yesterday was men’s 1000 meters speed skating. The American defending champion, Shani Davis, was the hopeful for a third straight medal. He didn’t make it. He came in 8th in the competition. He finished his 1000 meters in 1 minute, 9.12 seconds. That slow time was (get this) 0.73 seconds slower than the winner of the race. That’s right, Dutch skater Stefan Groothuis finished the race in 1 minute, 8.39 seconds (second place was 0.04 seconds slower, and third place was 0.35 seconds off the pace). The interviewer on the ice, once it was determined that he had finished eighth, had to ask Davis what he thought went wrong, why he was so much slower, and didn’t win a medal. I was pleased to hear Davis’ answer, “I just didn’t win.” And while I know it’s the reporter’s job to fill the air time with some sort of words (because they couldn’t possibly use it to show us any more actual sporting competition), “What went wrong? Why were you 0.73 seconds slower than the winner? (Or 0.38 seconds slower than the bronze medalist)?” strikes me as incredibly stupid. Davis was literally one percent slower in a race that lasts 69 seconds. Use your stopwatch to see just how “slow” he was. 0.73 seconds. Sheesh!
But stretching it out even further, I saw it in some of the skiing competitions, and also in the luge (sledding on your back): the play-by-play announcers following the athletes’ run down whichever course, saying things like “Oh, he looks a little slow here,” “She’s falling behind, losing her line,” “They just seem… off today.” And then the split time shows up on the screen, and that “slow,” “behind,” “off” is three or four hundredths of a second slower than the leader. What could the announcer possibly have seen to make us think the competitor is so far out of it, when it turns out it’s less time than a heartbeat, less than an eyeblink, something about which no competitor could possibly have control (a puff of wind, a patch of slightly melted snow or ice, etc.)? I mean, sure, if they were measuring in just whole seconds, it would all be ties, so they have to split it up as far as they can, but when the differences are measured in hundredths of a second, stop pretending those differences are something the competitors can actually control. Just because you can measure it doesn’t mean you can affect it.
|Thursday, January 30th, 2014|
|Oddball small business owner mistake number... whatever it is.
I only write one or two checks a month for the publishing company, so I don’t have to order new checks very often. So naturally, when I get to the “time to re-order” reminder atop one of the packs of checks, I ignore it.
The problem is, it’s one or two a month, except for twice a year, when I send out royalty checks to the authors, artists, and editors. Yesterday was calculate-and-pay day, and that’s when I realized I might not have enough checks left. Oops! Gray Rabbit Publications
has paid all its bills on time since I started the business, so I really didn’t want to be late just because I forgot to order checks to write.
Lucky, lucky, lucky me that I had just enough checks. Barely enough… well, not quite enough.
Every author, artist, and editor’s check went out in the mail today. But I was short one check: the one for my own royalties as an editor. Grump, grump, grump. I’ll have to wait a week or two to get paid myself.
|Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014|
|Wednesday, January 15th, 2014|
After a month of no conventions (frakkin' December), it's back to the "grind" (actually, it's one of the much more enjoyable parts of this job): a science fiction convention this weekend. This time, it's Arisia
in the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel. Arisia, for those who haven't been, is one of the big ones (last year, there were more than 3,200 people there; this year, they think they may actually hit their membership cap).
If you're in the area, and want to see me, I will (as usual) be spending most of my time behind the Fantastic Books table in the dealers' room. I'm on a few panels, and we (as in Fantastic Books) are hosting an open party Sunday evening (this is a four-day convention, ending Monday). I posted my schedule in this SFScope post
Hope to see some of you there!
|Friday, January 10th, 2014|
|New story coming
Something strange is happening in the universe. Just check out the cover for the April issue of Analog (see this post
|The frozen liquid stuff
Enough with the "black ice". You keep using that term as if it means something deep, dark, and sinister. It's ice. There's ice on the roads and the sidewalks. Maybe you can't see it because it's glossy, but it's ice. It's not anything other than frozen H2O. You've overhyped the term, now it's time to give it up.
That is all.
|Monday, January 6th, 2014|
Now I'm just confused.
A while back, I published Artemis Magazine, but the last issue appeared in 2003.
Today, I received an envelope addressed to "Artemis" at my address here in Brooklyn, with no return address.
Inside the envelope was nothing but a Western Union money order for $5, payable to "Artemis Magazine". Underneath that is a street address (Crest Green Rd), but no city or state, and the purchaser's signature, while legible, is an incredibly common name: Paul Brown.
Five dollars was what I charged for a sample copy, but it's been, seriously, ten years since I published an issue of the magazine, considered a submission, or sent out a sample copy. Where did Paul Brown come up with this name and address and amount? And why didn't he bother to tell me where to return his money order?
|Tuesday, December 24th, 2013|
I'm looking for a little programming help. I maintain the Fantastic Books web site (www.FantasticBooks.biz) using Dreamweaver (it came with the hosting package from 1and1). I know basic html, which is why the site is fairly simple.
I coded in the specific cover images/links on the front page of the site, and I try to change them every now and again (usually when I have a new book to show there). But I've been thinking it'd be neat if those images could change on their own, perhaps randomly choosing which to show from the list of images (I have all the cover images in one folder). Is there a simple way to encode that feature into the page? (You know, "for this image, go to this directory and randomly pick one of the images therein, and make that image a link to the page it goes with".)
|Monday, December 23rd, 2013|
|Fantastic Books publishing Lou Antonelli's newest collection, The Clock Struck None
From airships lost between universes, to golems winning the fight against racism, Lou Antonelli explains the many ways the world might have been in his newest collection, The Clock Struck None
. Dip into this collection of previously published tales, where you’ll experience:
* technology suppressing magic in an apartheid-like state
* ancient civilizations that succumb to their own nuclear holocausts
* alternate worlds in which Christianity is just one of many minor Earth-bound religions, and others where it rules and spans outer space
* how America’s westward expansion would have happened if the New Madrid earthquake had allowed the North American inland sea to reform
Here you’ll find Antonelli’s version of Brigadoon, and of the sinking of the Titanic
and the Carpathia
. You’ll visit alternate realities that have been hiding Neanderthals, and pick up the lost photos of what might have been. With cameo appearances by O. Henry, Robert E. Howard, and Rod Serling, join this wild ride and delve into demonic possession, immortality, and the infinite variety of other worlds.
Includes the 2013 Sidewise Award for Alternate History finalist short story “Great White Ship.”
Lou Antonelli is a modern speculative fiction author with classic sensibilities, honed by a long career as a newspaperman.
Fantastic Books is also the publisher of Antonelli’s first collection, Fantastic Texas
(ISBN: 978-1-60459-911-4), which is available in both trade paperback and ebook editions.
|Friday, December 20th, 2013|
|Fantastic Books publishing Tom Purdom's first collection: Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons
When talking about writing, Tom Purdom likes to quote Frederik Pohl’s prescription for a good science fiction story: “interesting people doing interesting things in an interesting future.” Yet Michael Swanwick says that Purdom “adds a fourth quality, that the author should have an interesting point of view,” and by that accounting, “Tom’s work comes up aces.”
Purdom has been following that advice throughout a writing career spanning more than half a century. His first story appeared in the August 1957 issue of Fantastic Universe, and he quickly moved on to sell stories to legendary editors like Pohl, John W. Campbell, H.L. Gold, and Donald Wollheim. He amassed an impressive writing resume: short fiction, novels, non-fiction articles, weekly arts columns, and much more. There was, however, one thing lacking: a collection of short fiction. Fantastic Books is thrilled to fill that hole in his career by publishing Tom Purdom’s first collection: Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons. Edited by Darrell Schweitzer, and with a foreword by Michael Swanwick, this volume brings together twelve of Purdom’s best portraits of all-too-human characters coping with the challenges of the future.
Over the decades, his stories have appeared in Amazing Stories, Galaxy, Analog, F&SF, and a string of original, reprint, and year’s best anthologies. For the last twenty years, Purdom’s been roving space and time with an acclaimed string of stories in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, including the one which finally earned him his first Hugo Award nomination, 1999′s “Fossil Games,” which leads off Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons.
In the introduction to this book, Michael Swanwick says “it is tempting to dwell upon Purdom’s longevity as a writer. But that accomplishment pales beside the fact that the stories he is writing today and the ideas that drive them are fresh and original. He notes that many writers get stale with age, but not Purdom: his new stories are written not by the firelight of the past but by the quiet glow of a computer screen filled with the latest developments in science and technology.”
“Fossil Games,” for example, is “a tale of posthumans whose intelligence is so highly enhanced that in conversation they’ll switch between machine-generated and music-based languages in order to convey nuances of mood and yet so outclassed by their contemporaries that they must flee Earth in search of a sanctuary for inferior minds. It is a cascade of brilliant ideas worthy of Greg Egan or Stephen Baxter at their best. On my first reading,” Swanwick says, “I could all but hear the plates of my skull creaking as my brain swelled with the effort of following his characters’ thinking. Yet the writing is smooth and the narrative flows naturally from beginning to end. It is a genuine tour de force and a terrific introduction to the pleasures of Purdom’s fiction.”
Swanwick concludes his introduction by telling readers, “It perhaps says more about me than about Purdom that I love best the stories that have the highest idea content. But however you order them and whichever you prefer, there’s not a clunker in the lot. This is a book I have been yearning for, along with many more of Purdom’s fans, for a long time. It is a delight to read.”
For more information, see http://fantasticbooks.biz/fantasticbooks/sf/1617209430.html
|Wednesday, December 18th, 2013|
|Should we accept the concept of "too much success"?
Recently, I was listening in on a conversation that turned to a business’s potential support for small businesses and/or local restaurants. The concepts became conflated in the mind of one of the participants, and he said something that really stuck with me. He said “Everywhere I look, it’s Nathans. I hate that it’s all this big corporate stuff. I think it would be great to support mom-and-pop restaurants.” I wasn’t participating, so I couldn’t jump down his throat screaming: “You moron. Where do you think Nathans came from?!” (For those of you who don’t know, Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker and his wife Ida started the nickel hot dog stand in Coney Island in 1916. Their son Murray opened the second store in 1959.)
It got me thinking about the flap a few years ago when there was talk of trying to break up Microsoft, because the company had grown too big, almost monopolistic. I don’t really like Microsoft, but I can still admire the company for its success. They created a product, marketed it, and turned it into a giant. And while Microsoft may engage in anti-competitive practices these days, those practices certainly aren’t the only (or even main) way it grew from a garage into its first few millions.
I extrapolated from those two to my current puzzlement. Why is it that we root for the underdog, the small guy, the mom-and-pop business: we cheer them on, hope for their success, want to see them grow. And if they have a little success, that’s great! But if they do a really excellent job: if they turn a little hot dog stand into a multinational corporation in less than a century, or an idea and several thousand dollars into a software behemoth in less than forty years, we look at that large thing it’s become and immediately tag it an evil corporation, blocking the way for small businesses everywhere. We can cheer for the kid next door who plays baseball every day and then earns a scholarship to college. We can be ecstatic when he signs a contract with a minor league team. But once he hits the bigs, we start looking for flaws, chinks in his armor, ways to tear him down.
I don’t have an answer. Heck, I don’t even have a summation here. But this is something that perked into my consciousness a few days ago, and I’ve been wondering. Is there a upper limit we want to place on success? Or should corporations be forced to die at a certain point in their life spans? Or is it just illogical humans being illogical? I don’t know. Got any thoughts?
|Tuesday, December 17th, 2013|
|Writers as performers
Running Gray Rabbit Publications/Fantastic Books
, I've been talking about the future of the book as somewhat akin to the circus flashlights I remember from when I was a kid: a physical memento the audience can take away after a performance. Of course, for that to be the case, there has to be an enthralling performance. And when that take-away memento is a book, the performer is going to be an author. This article
caught my attention because of the title, and while the content is in a slightly different vein, I still want to recommend it to all my authors.
|Sunday, December 15th, 2013|
I was watching Sarah Silverman’s HBO special “We Are Miracles.” I really enjoy her.
One particular bit stuck with me. She was talking about the damage parents cause to their children. Paraphrasing here, she said something about really hurting girls by telling them they can be anything they want to be when they grow up, because why would they have thought otherwise? It puts the thought in their minds that maybe there really are limits, when before that affirmation, they wouldn’t possibly have there were limts. Then she gave an example: telling your daughter that you’re not going to read her diary while she’s in the shower.
Yet another instance of comedians proving that they’re really just modern-day philosophers.
|Saturday, December 14th, 2013|
Just finished the current big freelance job. Ugh (but it's done). Working all day while listening to the people outside shoveling. I understand shoveling the snow midway through an expected large snowfall. But I don’t understand the people who have to get out to shovel the one or two inches of snow when the forecast is for it to change over to ice. Getting ice off your shoveled sidewalk is a bitch. Getting ice off when it’s on top of a layer of snow is pretty damn easy.