Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

When You Find Out Your Heroes Have Feet of Clay

What do you do when you find out your heroes aren't as perfect as you imagined them to be?

I've followed Dave Farland (aka Dave Wolverton) for a long, long time. I love his style of writing. And considering he survived a stint in Hollywood with his morals and sense of humor intact, I thought he was a man of integrity.

Until I clicked open his latest Kick in the Pants e-mail this weekend. The second paragraph started:

"I've had a number of readers ask about the Amazon-Hatchette debate. As you may know, they're involved in a massive lawsuit."

Lawsuit? What lawsuit?  Amazon and Hatchette's last contract expired in March, according to an Amazon press release which Hatchette has not disputed. The disagreement is over new contract terms.

Neither side has filed a lawsuit because there's NOTHING to file a lawsuit over. Neither side has been legally wronged by the other at this point. They are trying to hammer out new terms because the old ones expired. (Okay, one party may be trying a little bit harder than the other, but that's between the two corporations.)

When I read that second paragraph of Kick in the Pants, my eyes stung. Why would David lie? Then in the third paragraph he admitted to having a contract with Hatchette UK. The rest of the statement went downhill from there, including jabs at everyone's favorite whipping boy, Hugh Howey. I was shocked by David's attitude since he's done his fair share of indie publishing. I clicked the window shut after reading it, and I took my anger and disappointment out on the old kitchen tile I'm removing.

You'd think that at nearly fifty years of age and a solid twenty-five years in American corporate and legal culture I wouldn't be this fucking naive. But I guess I am.

Maybe that's why I write. I can't deal with the world as it is.

Note: David's Kick in the Pants columns are normally posted on his website, but the site's been down since the wee hours of Saturday morning when I read my e-mail. I'll link to the post when I can.

[Edit to add: Here's the link to David's post.]

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Best New Show You Should Be Watching

No, I don't have a geek girl crush, but I may have OCD. I can't stop watching this show.

P.S. SyFy has not renewed TWWP yet. If you want more Wil, contact SyFy today!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Will the Hatchette Insanity Ever End?

You know how last Friday I mentioned the abnormal number of hits from French IPAs? Later that afternoon, I suddenly had two sales on Amazon France, the first books in the Bloodlines and Seasons of Magick series. Was it someone defying her government's cultural edicts and trying a bold indie writer's work? Or was it someone at Hatchette looking for works to prove that indies write crap? Inquiring minds want to know.

Meanwhile back in the States, THE Authors Guild issued another screed claiming they represent the interests of ALL authors, including non-member indies.

Um, no.

And several indies, including me, told them so until they shut down comments about noon yesterday. Hey, if you're going to claim to represent us indies, maybe you should listen to your alleged constituency.

As several folks at The Passive Voice pointed out, THE Authors Guild's latest moves smack of desperation to be relevant in this rapidly changing world. To me, it shows that TAG is clearly in the back pocket of Hatchette and the other BPHs. If you're going to claim to represent ALL writers, then you need to be working for ALL writers, not just the one-percenters like King and Patterson. Because let's face it, those guys get an entirely different deal than Sharon Sala or Stephanie Bond.

Oh, wait. Sharon and Stephanie went indie. *snicker*

Angry Sheep signing off to go sniff paint fumes...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

NSFW and It's All Angie's Fault

During a conversation, Angie turned the subject of Star Trek: The Original Series to Mark Oshiro of Mark Reads fame. Since I'd never heard of him, Angie recommended his ST:TOS commentary as well as a reading of a John Scalzi short story.

But it was Mark's reading of portions of Fifty Shades of Grey that nearly had me peeing my pants. Seriously, folks, this is definitely NOT SAFE FOR WORK!

Monday, July 21, 2014

What Editing?

Like it or not, the publishing world has changed. Traditional publishers say they offer still value, such as editing, but do they really?

The last three books I've read that were traditionally published have not been edited. If it wasn't for the skill of these three writers, the tomes I bought would have been thrown across the room. I'm not going to name names because I actually respect the three writers in question, and it was very obvious that somebody at the publisher dropped the ball.

1) Last winter, I bought the e-book edition of a hardcover I purchased nearly fifteen years ago. It was one of those literary books I like to re-read occasional because I always discover something new in this writer's work that I missed the first time.

Except this time the discovery was so many typos! Which means the publisher scanned the original hardcopy with some sucky OCR software and didn't bother to double-check it before offering it for sale.

Dear Publisher: Lazy. Lazy. Lazy.

2) I bought the latest hardcover of one of my favorite authors last year, and finally carved some time to read it. This author has a known reading disorder so you'd think his publisher would make an extra effort on his books. Nope, not a chance, or at least, not this time. Read on his blog recently that he's paying for an editor out of his own pocket because he got skewered in reviews for the typos.

Dear Publisher: Charging $30 for a hardcover with that many typos makes you look bad to other writers, not just to readers. Very, very bad.

3) A week ago Sunday, I broke down and bought the latest mmpb of a series I absolutely adore. Started reading it last night in a minor celebration of getting some house painting accomplished this week. Page 69, heroine at restaurant drinking hot chocolate. Page 70, heroine still drinking hot chocolate. Page 71, heroine abandons her coffee to confront bad guy.

WTF? This gal rarely does coffee, and only when she's desperate and no other caffeine is available. Went back to the beginning of the scene. Yep, heroine definitely ordered hot chocolate and waitress delivered said hot chocolate.

It'll be interesting to see if there are any more copyediting mistakes along the same lines.

Dear Publisher: Let me guess. That thing in the Bible about Jesus turning water into wine was a typo your copyeditor missed, wasn't it?

Lesson of the Day: If you want a contract with a traditional publisher because you think you're precious baby will be edited, think again. Two of the writers I mentioned above have been NYT best-selling authors for more than two decades. If they can't get their publishers' time and concern over their books, what makes you think those publishers will give a rat's ass over a newbie like you?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Best New Show You Should Be Watching

Yes, I'm making you watch the second episode of The Wil Wheaton Project!

P.S. TWWP needs your support! Please contact SyFy and tell them you want more Wil!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hatchette Is Spying on Me

Sure I've been talking about the Amazon-Hatchette negotiations (if you can call them that). Find someone in the publishing industry who hasn't. But my posts on the topic have gathered an unusual interest from France.

On a given week, I get a handful of hits from the home of gay Paree. Literally, a handful. As in five. Probably from the same two people who have followed WW&W for the last three years.

But over the last week? 179 total hits from France. And I doubt if my two French buddies suddenly told all their friends to watch Wil Wheaton (which you all should be, by the way).

Nope, the majority came from that last two posts about Amazon's second volley in the two corporations' war (55) and my rant about the Author's Guild president claiming she represents indies in the war (81).

So if any Hatchette executives are reading, I hate to tell you, but you fucked up. You fucked up big time.

1) You illegally conspired to price fix. You got caught.

2) By your company's own admission, you haven't been negotiating with Amazon in good faith.

3) You allowed yourselves to rely on 3 super-retailers in the U.S. over the last twenty years. One of them crashed and burned three years ago, and the second is on life support, changing the products they carry from books to knick-knacks.

4) You've pissed off your suppliers, and those who can are leaving your warm, smothering embrace.

5) Then you dragged indies, who weren't part of the fight, into your PR games and are now suffering the backlash.

So, dear Hatchette employee, you can click on my posts and whine about how unfairly everyone is treating you, but you brought this on yourselves. If I were you, I'd be polishing my resume about now.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

I Don't Think I've Ever Called Amazon Sneaky, But I Will Call Roxana Robinson Arrogant

Last Friday, someone typed the following search criteria in Bing (yes, kids, there are other search engines beside Google):

"Amazons latest sneaky move in the hatchette"

Um, I don't recall ever calling Amazon sneaky. In fact, they're pretty much in your face when it comes to business strategy. So I clicked on the search criteria to see what comes up in Bing.

Well, I'll be damned. The number two website was this blog. Specifically, my post from the end of May in regards to Amazon's first public response to the Hatchette propaganda machine.


If only Hatchette's authors and the Author's Guild had left the indies out of the equation, they'd still be getting their journalist buddies to tout the party line. But, no, you just HAD to drag us into this fucking mess.

Now, Author's Guild president Roxana Robinson says:

I've been in touch with other people at the Authors Guild. We're trying to represent everyone, which includes those authors who are self-published and trying to protect them as well. And we’re looking toward the long-term; we want the best arrangement possible for writers in the future.

Guess what, sweetheart? I'm not a member of the Author's Guild. I don't pay any dues to your organization. And you sure as hell don't represent me or my publishing company!

Your statement is the ultimate in power-grabbing arrogance, Roxana. So go hang out with your millionaire buddies in the Hamptons and leave working writers like me out of your power games.

This sheep is officially pissed!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Best New Show You Should Be Watching

Okay, enough teasers. Here's the very first episode of The Will Wheaton Project!

P.S. TWWP needs your support! Please contact SyFy and tell them you want more Wil!

Friday, July 11, 2014

More from The Passive Guy

Some of you may have watched the NYPL "discussion" about Amazon.

One of the panelists, David Vandagriff aka "The Passive Guy" did an interview the following morning with Len Edgerly on his popular podcast, The Kindle Chronicles. You can listen on your PC, or download the pod cast from Len's website or the iTunes Store.

This interview was done on July 2, the morning after the NYPL event. David has some interesting follow-up from his view on the platform.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Battle Is No Longer Between Amazon and Hatchette

[Edit to add: I wrote this blog post during lunch yesterday. When I checked in after painting Genius Kid's old room last night, I thought the fumes had gotten to me. But no, Amazon issued their second volley in the propaganda war with Hatchette.

The news broke while the TPV crowd talked about Michael Stackpoole's blunt essay on the A-H battle. The last half of the comment thread talks about the Amazon bombshell. Folks there also posted the responses from Hatchette,

Joe Konrath posted the Amazon's press release and his personal thoughts, but I warn you Stevie Z. tries to take over the comments. Both TPV and Joe have links to responses from Hatchette, Douglas Preston, and The Author's Guild.

For those that don't feel like clicking on any links, the gist of Amazon and Hatchette's BS:

Amazon: Since you're accusing us of harming writers, we'll reinstate the pre-order buttons and order larger amounts of Hatchette books if ALL royalties go to the writers affected by our dispute.

Hatchette: How dare you offer our writers money!

Yep, kinda proves who's insane, doesn't it?]

Everyone's worried about who's drinking what Kool-Aid.

The two-month six-month long negotiations (changed based on Amazon's news release from yesterday) between Amazon and Hatchette have taken an interesting twist. In their efforts to get Amazon to back down, Hatchette and the other big publishers launched a massive PR campaign against the 'Zon.

None of this should be a surprise because the Big 5 announced their PR plan in January. What is surprising is that Hatchette and their minions tried to pull the indie writers into the fight by using scare tactics. They all run something along the lines of -- "If Amazon is screwing us over, just imagine what they will do to you once we're dead."

What Hatchette and the other big publishers didn't anticipate was the indies' collective "Fuck you!"

There's a large contingent of indies who have been trad-published, and they were treated horribly. Those who weren't kicked to the curb by Hatchette and their buddies ran as soon as they could. Then there's some of us who heard the horrible stories of how our fellow writers were treated, and we decided dealing with the Big 5 wasn't worth the soul-sucking pain. The rest of the indies, who never bothered with query letters, just shook their heads, published their books, and ignored the brouhaha.

Ignored the Big 5 until other authors (all of them in some kind of business with the Big 5) started insulting us. We pulled our heads out of our writing cubbies (or in my case, out of the closet I was painting), looked around, took in the obvious lies being spouted about Amazon, and said, "Seriously, dudes?"

So Hugh Howey and Joe Konrath put together a letter, posted it on and asked other indies to sign it. I did. Not because I think Amazon is the Second Coming. (Pornocalypse, anyone? Those fuckers banned my books!) I signed it because they're not lying out their assholes like Hatchette is. You see, Hatchette never would have touched me. And for that, I thank Djedhuti every day.

But the lies! Amazon is not boycotting Hatchette authors. Every Hatchette book in print and available from Hatchette is for sale on Amazon. Those books marked "Unavailable" HAVEN"T BEEN FUCKING PUBLISHED YET! Given the tenor of the current negotiations, why would any retailer do pre-orders for merchandise they may not be able to deliver? As for the delays in delivering print books, Amazon isn't warehousing them because they don't want to get stuck with the shipping costs if they and Hatchette do end their business relationship.

Sorry, folks, but I'd be doing the same thing in Amazon's position. Part of owning a business is keeping your overhead low.

By no means do I consider Amazon a saint. They are not perfect. (PORNOCALYPSE!) I get that. It's just one of the retailers I sell books through

In fact, I sell fewer books on Amazon than I do on any other retail site except for Kobo and the now-defunct Diesel. Hell, I did about the same business with them as I did with the departed Sony E-Bookstore. So I don't think you can call me an Amazon shill (the other favorite insult if anyone is even perceived as NOT taking Hatchette's side).

But the really sad thing in all of this are the organizations that are supposed to be FOR writers are publicly throwing their support to Hatchette. (SFWA, anyone?) *sigh* Where were these organizations when the Big 5 dropped e-book pricing from 50% of gross to 25% of net?

Let's assume the leaks are true, Hatchette is trying to reinstate agency pricing with Amazon. Now these writer organizations want their membership to support a pricing scheme where Hatchette gets more money and the writers still get pennies on the dollar? Why would any writer buy into that scenario?

So to trad-published authors, I have nothing against you or your choices. But your business interests are nowhere near mine. I'm not going to help you commit career suicide. And I'm sure as hell not going to agree to a suicide pact with you.

Since I'm allegedly the bad guy, I leave you with this:

Come to the Dark Side, my pretties! We have chocolate.

[2nd edit to add: Normally, I only get 2 hits from France on any given day. Woke up Saturday morning, July 12th, to 51 French hits on the blog. Wonder if Hatchette and their buddies are going to start calling me names.]

Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday Movie Mania - How to Train Your Dragon 2

This review is a little late. I actually attended a free special screening three weeks before the movie's American release. I loved the first movie, and I thought, given the talent, the sequel would exceed my expectations.

As sequels go, the story was...competent. That is, it wasn't a huge disaster, but it didn't quite live up to the original.


Dad dies saving Hiccup in this one. If you have super-sensitive kids under the age of 10, I don't recommend it. Even though GK is nearly fourteen, he's still got issues when the parent figure dies. He loves The Walking Dead, and he's been begging me to buy more Blu-Rays. I haven't bought the second season yet because, well...Lori.


Anyway, back to Dragon. The story picks up five years after the first movie. Hiccup and his friends are no longer young teen, but young adults. Everyone in the village of Berk has adopted a dragon, in some cases, more than one.

1) Hiccup has actually grown as a person. He's not quite the dreamer he was in the first movie. He's also become a bit isolated from his the rest of the villagers because of the pressure his father is putting on him to take up the mantle of chief. The events of this movie solidify his personality.

2) The comic relief comes from Ruffnut's crush on dragon hunter Eret. You wouldn't think Ruffnut playing the dopey, hormone-ridden girl would work, but Kristin Wiig somehow pulls it off.

1) The mind-control dragons. I can understand the clash of two king dragons, but the whole mind-control thing left me cold. Especially when the device was used to have Toothless kill Dad. I know the writers used Hiccup's rapid forgiveness of Toothless to show how much the Viking had matured, but to me, it cheapened Toothless's character.

2) Finding out Mom is alive. Okay, she wasn't killed by dragons when she was taken from their home when Hiccup was a baby. But she never tried to get back to Berk in following seventeen(?) years? I have issues with Mom being that callous, and I can't see either Dad or Hiccup rolling over and welcoming her with few to no questions.

Those are just my impressions. HTTYD is supposed to be a trilogy, so I hope the writers step up their game for the third movie.

Overall, I give it 6 out of 10 stars.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Best New Show You Should Be Watching

Yes, Wil Wheaton and his crew have way too much fun adapting new shows with old-style theme songs.

**WARNING: Contains zombie gore!**

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

If you're a fellow American, I highly suggest spending one Fourth of July in our nation's capital. The live experience cannot be matched.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Non-Writing and Writing News

I haven't written in nearly a month so I swear it feels like I'm going through withdrawal. The final push of getting the house ready for the market has taken my full attention. Tiling, painting, gluing, caulking, etc. But my Inspiring Lilac and Bright White master bathroom looks pretty damn good! Once I get pics transferred from the iPhone to the PC, I'll show it off.

In the meantime, if you want a good laugh, watch the panel discussion that took place at The New York Public Library last night. David Vandagriff, aka Passive Guy from The Passive Voice, took part along with the likes of James Patterson. In addition to the comments on the library page, check out the Twitter stream via #amazonbau.

On second thought, if you're an indie writer, you might want to get good and drunk before you watch the video.