ideatrash

Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

DAAAYUM SON: The possibility of the human race in two commercials.

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Watch these two commercials.  Just... just do it, okay?  (Originally noted from here)





Think on this:  If a bloody marketing ad agency gets this...

Well, then there's still hope, isn't there?


Speaking of hope, if you aren't mad about net neutrality yet (and how the FCC is selling us all up the river), that means you haven't been paying attention.  Take a gander here:

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The Right Mix of Insanity and Reality: Double Dead and Bad Blood by Chuck Wendig

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Let me start here:  I recommend Double Dead and Bad Blood for fans of vampires, zombies, and Preacher.

Because like Garth Ennis' epic comic run on Preacher, the Coburn series has a kick-ass concept that gets this avalanche rolling:

Coburn’s been dead now for close to a century, but seeing as how he’s a vampire and all, it doesn’t much bother him. Or at least it didn’t, not until he awoke from a forced five-year slumber to discover that most of human civilization was now dead—but not dead like him, oh no.

See, Coburn likes blood. The rest of the walking dead, they like flesh. He’s smart. Them, not so much. But they outnumber him by about a million to one. And the clotted blood of the walking dead cannot sustain him. Now he’s starving. And on the run. And more pissed-off than a beestung rattlesnake. 
Also like Preacher, that cool concept is just the beginning of the roadtrip ofo the story.  Things get a lot crazier from there.  And that makes it hard to review these books without spilling the beans about the many, many holy crap moments throughout Double Dead (or the shorter sequel, Bad Blood).

So let me talk about Preacher again for a minute to explain.  See, the reason I'm optimistic about the upcoming TV adaptation is because I've seen This is the End.  That movie pushes the edge of improbably comic WTF moments (repeatedly), but also has a rather sweet buddy-movie story at its core.  This is the End pushes the edge, but does not cross it.  But my gripe with Preacher (and really, much of Ennis' work) is that inevitably crosses the line into farcical shock gags that just kick me right out of the story.

Arseface or Jesse's extended family are beautifully executed arcs that walk that line... but then there's Herr Starr descending into just being a running gag, or the whole farce of the Messiah (and Ennis' apparent fascination with fat people falling on skinny people).  That kind of stupid bull@#$* just annoys me.

And here's where we get back to Chuck.  See, Double Dead has its own impossibly crazy bits - but they're grounded in the way that Ennis' best are.  They're the natural insanity that happens in our lives... but these characters are never played as just a joke. 

And that's what makes Double Dead so freaking awesome.

I haven't talked much about Bad Blood here, true.  Not because of any particular lack on its part - it's a good book.  It has the same kind of moments and emotional intensity.  But it's a little less than half the length of Double Dead, and rather than a (literal) cross-country romp, almost seems like it should have been part five through eight of Double Dead.

And that's why I recommend you pick up both Double Dead and Bad Blood and read them back to back. 

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Markdown and Pandoc and Libreoffice Oh My! Easily swapping from markdown to libreoffice

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As some folks have found out (to their consternation), I routinely use markdown to write ... well, just about everything.  It's pretty simple:

#This is a level one header
##This is a level two header
###This is a level three header

*this is italics*
**this is bold**

* This
* is a
* bulleted list.

As you can see, it's pretty easy to just "read" without any special formatting.  It's essentially plain text, so you can use it on any machine that has the most basic of text editors without installing or changing anything else.  And I've been using it with my contract templates and policies.

All of which is great - until you want to convert it to something prettier or with more tweaks and fiddly bits (especially if you don't want to worry about TeX - and if you don't know, don't ask).

Enter pandoc, which will handle all of this for us along with a quick shell script and pass it on to LibreOffice.   (And if you've not tried LibreOffice lately, it's matured to the point that I haven't used Word in months... and yes, that includes track changes and comments.)

Converting from markdown to Libreoffice? Fairly easy - once you figure out what exactly you want it to do. So here's what I've come up with:

pandoc filename.md -V geometry:margin=1in -s -o filename.odt

Or if you're using something like Doublecommander (or anything that lets you pass a filename) you can use this simple shell script:



Going the other way is a little trickier - I'll try to post that in the next few days.

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Why Advertising on Facebook Has Become A Waste of Time And Money

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It's kind of ironic that this goes up just as my significant other comes off of her social media fast - but it's true.

If you're using social media - and particularly Facebook - as a way to share information about your business, you're kind of screwed.

Back in 2012 I posted "The Beginning of the End of Social Media" and "Social Media is Dead" because of Facebook and Twitter's moves to change how you see and interact with posts and tweets.

Flash forward about 18 months, and Veritasium has a followup (and a great summary) in two videos.

I cannot stress this enough:  If you have "social media" as part of the way you interact with the people who work with you as a professional (and yes, that means authors), you want to spend the 18 minutes to watch these videos.

And then you'll want to think really hard about how much energy, time, and money you spend on Facebook.



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A Quick Analysis of The Latest Controversy

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Cave troll as corporate bullySo I've got this theory as to why we're still dealing with the same people causing "controversies" in the speculative fiction community:

Here's some reasons why trolls exist
  • Attention and recognition, even if negative
  • Power (the power to disrupt)
  • Vandalism
  • The thrill of breaking social conventions
  • Sabotaging groups the troll dislikes
  • Immaturity

Here's some ways to recognize trolls
  • Trolls generally use provocative and confrontational language. A clever one will mix it up with relevant and friendly posts.
  • Trolls hardly ever stick to the topic; they beat around the bush with the intention to confuse the reader.
  • Trolls of the subtle variety flag off their attack with innocent questions. You will often find them dressed up as new members of forums and chat rooms.
  • Trolls lack understanding of a topic. They will not respond with a proper answer to a proper question.
As background, please keep in mind that the flaming-crotch-sworded one (#notcompensating) was kicked out of a professional writer's organization for deliberately acting to defame the organization

Then take a look at the self-congratulatory backpatting of some folks about the second controversy around the Hugos this year while keeping the above lists in mind.

PS:  If you want your concerns about award voting taken seriously, perhaps you shouldn't act like a troll while advancing those concerns.  Because no matter how good your concerns are, all people are going to hear is the roaring of a troll.

PPS:  Can someone explain to me why "social justice warrior" is supposed to be a negative?  When someone says that label, I think of this:

http://inspirationboost.com/

And I really, really don't see how that's a bad thing.

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The Whole Is Greater: Themed Anthologies by Donald J. Bingle

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The Whole is Greater is a semi-regular feature on the blog where I ask folks to tell us about their experience working on an anthology.  Today's features Donald J. Bingle, whom I've had the pleasure of knowing for many years now, and publishing his short fiction in Sidekicks! and the Crimson Pact anthologies, as well as his novel Net Impact.  Don's writing has been in many, many anthologies, so when he offers advice about how to get your work in them, I highly recommend taking a moment to listen.


Themed Anthologies

One thing readers sometimes don't realize about themed anthologies is that most often the writers don't see any of the other stories in an anthology until they review galleys for minor typos--sometimes not until after publication. This is certainly true of open call anthologies and is generally true for invitational or limited invitational anthologies. That makes it difficult for writers to coordinate for consistency in shared settings, sure. But even more importantly, it makes it difficult for writers to submit a story by deadline that they are pretty sure does not step on the toes of or bear too many plot or concept similarities with the story of another writer.

In order to increase your chances of getting your story picked for an open call anthology on a specific topic and to get in good with the editor on an invitational anthology, I always recommend consciously choosing a cast of characters or plot line that is not obvious (i.e., not the first or sometimes even the sixth thing that comes to mind ... unless you have a really twisted and devious mind). If you travel the well-worn route and use the usual tropes, your story will have to be the absolute best of that type in order to be selected or impress the editor. But if it is just a bit out in left field, but still in the ballpark, the editor can choose it because it is the best, because it is so unusual or clever in concept (even if less than stellar in execution), because it is humorous in a sea of seriousness or scary in an ocean of science fiction, or just because it provides a change of pace or palate-cleanser for readers between stories of more standard fare.

Because I write in a wide variety of genres (scifi, fantasy, horror, thriller, steampunk, romance, comedy, pulp,and memoir, to name a few), because I like to write to specific topics and wordcounts, and because I write fairly quickly when I am on a deadline, I have been involved in a number of themed anthologies (many of them for DAW, but also for smaller presses), for which I have been asked to write to a specific theme and length on short deadline by a number of different editors. (The fact that editors talk to each other about who can fill in on a moment's notice has been very helpful to my writing career.) In many cases I was not initially invited to participate in the anthology or didn't know about it, but when some writer bowed out at the last minute or too many writers submitted stories at the short end of the range, leaving the total wordcount short, I would get asked to quickly write up a submission. This is how I came to write a Transformers short story ("Parts" in The Transformers Legends) about a pacifist Cybertronian who refused to transform to fighting form, a Civil War tale ("Stew" in Civil War Fantastic) that focused on the killing of horses during firefights, and a very suggestive comedic piece ("F Isn't for Freefall") amidst the boy meets girl (or alien or robot) in space stories in a scifi romance anthology (Love and Rockets).

Of course, if you are invited to participate in a themed anthology upfront and a storyline immediately occurs to you, it may be possible to stake out your territory with the editor. For example, when I was asked to write for an anthology about horrific garden animals (Zombie Raccoons & Killer Bunnies), I almost immediately contacted the editor and told her I was going to do my tale ("BunRabs") on bunnies. That meant that she told other writers that critter was already taken when they chatted with her about possible stories. Similarly, when Sarah Hans announced her first anthology (Sidekicks!), I almost immediately told her I wanted to do a story ("Second Banana Republic") about the brother of a South American dictator. In that instance, I not only staked a claim, but I asked for clearance in an area that I didn't think other authors would be likely to want to play.

When the theme of the anthology is fairly broad (wizards, steampunk, pirates), avoiding the obvious story lines is relatively easy, but it gets much harder when the theme is narrower. One of the toughest was when I was asked at the last minute to write a story for the anthology Imaginary Friends. I knew the straightforward plotlines and even the standard twists would already be taken. There would undoubtedly be stories about kids with imaginary friends, adults visited by imaginary friends of their youth, imaginary friends that were really scarier things (ghosts and the like), and stories in which the twist was that the character who was imaginary wasn't the one you thought it was. Since I trend toward the dark, I came up with a concept ("Suburban Legend) about a husband accused of murdering his wife, and who claims the murder was committed by her lover. However, the police think the fiendish boyfriend is all in the husband's imagination and the husband begins to think that might be true, too. I won't give it all away here, but when I was finished I was sure that regardless of what the editor might or might not think about the quality of the story or the credibility of the plot, there was no chance that he would think my tale tracked too closely to some other story already in the anthology.

So, the next time you get a chance to spin a story for a themed anthology, try to think outside the box. I'm not worried about the competition there; once you are outside the box, there's plenty of room for everyone not to get in each other's way.

Some of my previously published tales ... and a few new ones ... have been republished as e-story collections in my Writer on Demand™ series. Check them out or find out more about my writing at www.donaldjbingle.com.

Aloha!

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Mo*Con and Marcon and Me, Oh my!

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A quick note on upcoming appearances: 

I'm going to be at Mo*Con 9 at the beginning of May, followed the next weekend by a (probably) Saturday-only appearance at MARCon at three panels:

16:00 – 17:20: Am I a Professional Writer Yet?
20:30 – 21:50: Where Should You Publish Your Work?
22:00 – 23:20: Publishing Mishaps

I'm not sure how early I'll be there on Saturday - large parts of this will depend on exactly what ends up happening with my day job in the next week or three. 

If you're going to be at MARCon and want to make sure you get to say hi, please drop me a line ahead of time.

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The Kickstarter for *Devils' Field* - the New Jessie Shimmer Novel - Is Going On Now!

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Lucy A. Snyder - the Bram Stoker Award-winning author who has worked with Alliteration Ink with Steampunk World, Streets of Shadows, and What Fates Impose - is running a Kickstarter with me in order to write a new Jessie Shimmer novel.



Seriously, folks, when Lucy first approached me with this project, I hadn't read the books yet.  I knew Lucy's other work, so when I started reading the earlier books in the series I knew they'd be good... but I didn't know they'd be that good.

They are that good.  Wow.

But don't take my word for it - check out these reviews for the earlier Jessie Shimmer books in the series:

"Snyder combines the best of Jim Butcher and T.A. Pratt in this wildly imaginative and intensely gripping urban fantasy trilogy launch. ... Threads of romance, horror, action, and humor weave throughout, serving as the perfect backdrop against which memorable characters and a unique system of magic can shine." — Publishers Weekly starred review

"Snyder excels at placing the reader directly in the action of her surreal world, and keeps them firmly ensconced there despite a fast and furious pace ... Eccentric secondary players also contribute to the enjoyable wild ride." —Bitten By Books

"Snyder injects this edgy urban fantasy with an erotic charge and a horrific flavor, creating a space where sex and terror coexist and no comfort zone is within sight."—Publishers Weekly

"Lucy Snyder attacks the page with the raw, manic intensity of an early Sam Raimi. This book is funny, profane, and insane in all the best ways. I can't wait to see what Jessie Shimmer will get into—and possibly blow up—next." — Seanan McGuire

Seriously, folks, you want in on this one.

Check out the Kickstarter at http://bit.ly/kickdevils!

Devils' Field: Lucy A. Snyder's New Jessie Shimmer Novel -- Kicktraq Mini

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Challenge: Beat The KickTraq Projection to Get A New All Backer Reward with Lucy Snyder's Jessie Shimmer Kickstarter!

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This is very simple:

I will kick in an all backer reward for the Kickstarter for Lucy Snyder's new Jessie Shimmer novel if we beat Kicktraq's top prediction for the Kickstarter OR hit 200 backers.



Remember, there's already two all backer rewards - an audio recording of my story "Broken" and digital copies of The House on Concordia Drive.  But if we beat the high range projection of $5180 (OR hit 200 backers), then I'll throw in a digital copy of my short story collection Kicking the Habit for all backers.

So if you've been waiting to back this project, NOW is the time.  And if you've already backed it and want to get more stuff free, help us spread the word right now.

The project is at http://bit.ly/kickdevils !

Thanks!

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You can now (legally) quote and share my instructions on how to get eBooks onto your reader.

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A while back, I wrote up some detailed (but easy-to-follow) instructions on how to "sideload". That is, how to get eBooks you've purchased directly from someone like me onto your phone, tablet, or eReader. 

There were a lot of partial instructions, but not many that actually covered everything and were still easy to read.  So I was happy with it...and I thought I'd put them up under a Creative Commons license, but apparently I didn't. 



So I've fixed that error.

To officially announce it:

The text at http://alliterationink.com/loading.html of "Getting Your eBooks on Your Reader" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. That means you can share and use the text, as long as you provide attribution back to that page and allow others to re-share your adaptations of the instructions in the same way.

The actual links to the license (and the instructions themselves) are at http://alliterationink.com/loading.html .

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Win Signed Copies of The Two Newest Titles From Alliteration Ink

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I'm pleased to announce the release of two new titles from Alliteration Ink - and along with it, a giveaway to get signed copies of the books!
 
“My name is Sam Brody, and I like to ruin fun.”

Sam's adventures begin with the standalone prequel novella The House on Concordia Drive. His job on late-night radio is to debunk the existence of things that go bump in the night... but this haunting isn't as straightforward as it seems.

Up against the reputation of an infamous documentary and fighting to keep his personal life together, Sam has to discover if the case is a hoax, a ghost, or something... else.

Perhaps the best investigator of a haunted house is a haunted man.

Then things kick into high gear with the full-length novel The Red Eye, as Sam continues to pull back the curtain on paranormal hoaxes, exposing the charlatans posing as psychics, vampires, and alien messengers.

Sure, he started out hoping that someone would prove that there was something "more," but after all the con artists and fakes, that hope's gone.

 

Sam Brody definitely doesn't believe in the supernatural.

With one phone call, he discovers the supernatural believes in him.




Goodreads Book Giveaway


The House on Concordia Drive by K.W. Taylor

The House on Concordia Drive

by K.W. Taylor


Giveaway ends April 13, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win





Goodreads Book Giveaway


The Red Eye by K.W. Taylor

The Red Eye

by K.W. Taylor


Giveaway ends April 13, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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Learning The Value of Twitter Chat & Storify With Victoria Strauss About Copyright & Contracts For Indie Writers

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I have to admit my prior skepticism of twitter "chats".  Sure, you could arrange by hashtag, but it seemed... cumbersome.

And I won't lie - even after following one or two, they are slightly awkward.  They require a good multi-column hashtag-searching twitter client.  They remind me of a noisy IRC chat room... and with nobody there having mod powers.

But.

The last #indiechat (Tuesdays, 9pm EST) featured Victoria Strauss (one of the founding members of Writer Beware).  I stumbled across it by accident, but quickly saw exactly how useful it was.

And thanks to Storify, I can even show you.  Storify is a tool that lets you collect snippets - tweets, statuses, instagrams, more - and make them into collections so that it makes... well, a story.   I did that for Victoria's #indiechat, and I hope you find it as valuable as I did.  (If the embed isn't working for you, swing by https://storify.com/uriel1998/victoria-strauss-on-indiechat-20140401 to see the whole thing.



#sfwapro

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Want to sell your book? Hate gimmicks? Let Cathy Day show you how to be a literary citizen instead.

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I met Cathy Day just over a week ago, and I'm quite glad I did.

She's managed to distill a lot of the best - and most ethical - advice you can give people about "marketing" and "promotion" down into a real principle:  Literary Citizenship.1

Ask not what publishing can do for you, ask what you can do for books.


There's a lot of common themes between Literary Citizenship and my concept of how to grok social media;  Ms. Day has gone a step further and broken it down into some working principles and actual actions to show what literary citizenship looks like in practice.

Go take a look at LiteraryCitizenship.com right now.  It's a quick - but important - read for all writers.



I'll shut up and let you read it now.


1 Literary meaning "books", not the genre "literary fiction".

#sfwapro

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