Tag: self-publish

Thoughts on CthulhuCon PDX, and getting going!

cthulhucon_poster_600Last weekend I attended the Portland CthulhuCon. It was a gathering of a few hundred fans of Lovecraft and related media for two days, featuring amazing and fascinating panels, art displays and competitions, readings, games, vendors…. It was amazing!

I myself am a moderate Lovecraft fan. I probably know more about the man and his work than I do of the stories themselves. I mean, sure, I’ve read his most popular stories and I’m familiar with his mythos, but I’m by no means hardcore. Even so, I held my own in a Lovecraftian Pictionary game!

The panels were simply fantastic! They really were quality, intellectual panels with some very prominent Lovecraft scholars and artists and writers, the quality of discussions I’d have seen a the ICFA. Cthulhu vs Dracula, compare and contrasting Lovecraft’s writing and style, and place in literary history, with that of Bram Stoker. One on Lovecraft’s life and internal demons and how that may have affected his writing. An analysis of the Lovecraft mythos and writing in mythos (his and in general). And more! I took so many notes.

One of the best parts was a performance by Leeman Kessler of “Ask Lovecraft.” He does a very funny, and honoring, not satirical, impersonation of a reanimated Lovecraft answering any and all questions from the audience, from the serious to the goofy — and every improvised response of his was great and humorous.

One of the highlights was definitely “Scotch with Scott.”

Read More

Share

Related Posts:

Farm-grown Spam

SF novelist Jim Macdonald has an article, “Fence Your Stolen Content at Amazon.com“. He discusses the threat of e-books as becoming the new breeding-ground fir spammers and search engine scammers:

“With the cost of self-publishing approaching zero thanks to e-publishing, and with content-farms being depreciated by Google, it seems that spammers have taken to e-publishing.”

As someone seeking to start a career with e-publishing as a significant cornerstone in the foundation, this bothers me a lot. As a user of the Internet since around 1995, I’ve seen the war against spam and pernicious Web advertisers get messy. As someone who has worked in IT in some way since 1998, I’ve been on frontlines fighting spam and blocking advertising. And, as a Web designer, I’ve had to fight hard to get sites as high as legitimately possible on search results while competing with unscrupulous content farms.

As someone who has spent his entire adult life, both personally and professionally, fighting with spammers and scammers, the prospect of having to continue the fight as a writer, wearies me greatly.

On the glass-half-full side, I have seen a great deal of improvement in the last 15 years in the war over e-mail spam. There was a time, before client spam filters and ubiquitous e-mail server filters, when I considered giving up e-mail altogether as the ratio of spam to ham in my inbox was 75/25. Now, the amount of spam I get barely annoys me.

The current hated weapon is the content farm. Do a search on Google for nearly anything and many of the hits you’ll get back will be to About.com or Suite101 or similar pages that have simply copy-and-pasted a page of generic info about your desired topic, and then filled it with product links and ads. Sadly, the war against these isn’t going too well.

And that’s the threat Macdonald sees in e-publishing — do a book search on Amazon.com for a particular topic, and find several cheap e-books… that have the same generic, boilerplate content as seen in similar pointless works across the ‘net. The legitimate author becomes a squeak in a sea of static.

Things change, and e-mail spam is a surprising example of things changing for the better. I have hope. Sadly, I don’t think it’ll improve until it gets much worse — and I have the impeccable timing to jump right into the fray.

Share

Related Posts:

NaNoWriMo, again. Maybe. Perhaps?

Writers_Block_1Once again I’ll be participating in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). And this time I mean it!

The point of NaNoWriMo is to help people get past the blocks and barriers and hesitations and just write, dammit. Heck with editing (for now), heck with obligations and excuses for not having time, NaNoWriMo provides the excuse to write ~three pages a day, every day, for a month. If you get 50,000 words of new material (can’t work on something you’ve already been working on; you have to start fresh November 1st), you win!

What do you win? Well, I think there’s a Web image you can put on your Web site saying you completed, but otherwise, you win the pride and honor of actually writing a (small!) novel’s worth of words. I’ve tried in the past. In fact, the first time was several years ago when NaNoWriMo was hardly known about. I think I uploaded maybe 5,000 words before I stopped. Then I tried two more time more recently, and stopped before I began. But this time, I’m doin’ it! But to really get and stay motivated with the task of writing every single day no matter what, it’s helpful to really get into the mood and networking and social atmosphere NaNoWriMo helps facilitate with the tools and advice they put on their site, and connect with fellow participants who you can trade encouragement with. It’s very much like a 12-step program or something.

The one roadblock I have (in additional to blaming being too brain-dead after work each day to write) is I’m still trying to finish my current novel/Master’s thesis. If I want to graduate this December, I really needed to have it turned in already to my readers. It’s currently about 270 pages long and that’s about 150 pages more than the thesis readers tend to have to deal with. I should just take the advice of my advisor and stop it where it is, edit the existing material, tack on a summary of what’s supposed to happen, and call it good. And I’ll probably do that. Plus, I have a couple of class papers due in December that I can use as excuse to not NaNoWriMo some days–even though these are easier papers than I’ve had to write in most of my grad school career thus far.

What I’m saying is: I can’t use those as excuses. I’m doing NaNoWriMo, and I can still work on other projects–and in fact, this should help me be able to work on these projects a lot more than I currently do where after work I feel like my brain isn’t capable of scholarly thought. (Well, it still won’t be. It may actually not help with my school stuff at all, and the NaNoWriMo output quality may suck horribly.

But there’s one thing I’m keeping in mind as I participate which has been a deterrent in the past: I’m looking at this as working toward a completed work. My current novel is going to be vaguely 90,000 words long. The normal length for a novel (from novice writers) is around 80,000 to 100k. Most people say 80,000 is really as small as most publishers will consider now-a-days (have you seen how short most novels were before the late 1980s?!) But here’s the thing: one of my favorite authors, Cory Doctorow, has a 50k word novel (Eastern Standard Tribe) and a 48k word novel (Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom), and they’re fantastic! (Especially the later. EST is good but anti-climactic). A novel doesn’t have to be 80k+ words to be good.

And, as Cory and Wil Wheaton and other have proven, you don’t need to cowtow to the publishing industry in order to be published or get your work into the hands of interested people. So, this silly roadblock I created for myself that because this super-productive blast of creative writing would be an incomplete work, I shouldn’t bother participating in the structured and constrictive waste of time of NaNoWriMo, can be ignored like the drek it is.

So, here’s my NaNoWriMo profile: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/520083. If you think you may participate as well, “buddy” me. Now, all I need to do is try to figure out which plot idea I want to try to develop. 😛

Share

Related Posts:

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén