Monthly Archives: April 2010

Charlie Explains Some More Things

I linked earlier to Charles Stross’ excellent blog series touring fiction publishing, but his latest entry deserves another mention. Stross tackles the personal life and income of a writer in this one, and his figures for Britain? Cut that in half for the U.S., plus, as he says, lose the health insurance.  Like many successful writers, Stross has run into a lot of people who have the Hollywood view of what he does and how he lives. (This same Hollywood view permeates the discussions of e-book issues.) You run into this a lot from aspiring writers who want to know “how much does the average fiction writer make?” so they can start planning.  Realistically,  the average fiction writer makes nothing. If you’re lucky, you might make really good poker night money. If you’re very lucky, you make a small income from it. If you’re extremely lucky, you’ll make a living out of it. But the odds are decidedly against you. That’s okay, because the money lure is not why most people are obsessed with writing fiction. Stross lays it out with his customary style, which is pretty impressive, considering that only recently he was trapped in Tokyo due to the volcanic ash cloud (still an excellent name for a rock band,) and just got home. Go check it out:

Leave a comment

Filed under book publishing, SFFH

Arizona, Were You High?

I’m not going to be doing a lot of politics on this blog and I’m not having comments on this entry, but when legislators in something the size of a state in the U.S. make a dictatorship move this big in scope, it calls for some comment. White, Republican, conservative legislators who rammed this through, this new law is not going to do the following:

1) Reduce the political and economic power of the Latin-American voters who make up a third of your electorate through Jim Crow style intimidation of forced police harassment, and the threat of arrest and fines for not having I.D. on you or for your white neighbors deciding you’re running a drop house.  Latin-American citizens are not going away and Arizona has already crossed the tipping point for losing their white majority in the next decades, despite the stream of white retirees.

2) Force the Arizona police divisions who did not agree with the views of the Sheriff of Nottingham to cooperate on threat of lawsuits. Instead, this will cause more in-fighting among Arizona law enforcement, and a nightmare on working with Federal authorities, whose job it is to deal with the whole border.

3) Put the squash on illegal immigrants becoming legal ones and legal immigrants becoming American citizens, along with their children, and thus increasing the size of the Latin-American voter block. Nor will it get the kids of illegal immigrants out of your schools or slow down people coming across the border illegally. Because as nasty as you are, you’re still not as nasty as the situation in other countries these people are fleeing from.

4) Reduce violent crime and the drug trade in Arizona. Because the illegals are in the majority not involved in the drug trade and the drug cartels don’t care what you do to them. The statistics you are using to freak out whites on the correlation between illegals and crime and how much of the drug trade is going through Arizona you made up out of your asses and they have already been debunked by the DEA and the FBI.

5) Bring out the racist white conservative voters that might get you re-elected. Yes, they may turn out for the 2010 elections since they don’t like being called names, but that’s not going to last, and the turn-out is probably going to be working against you as you have raucous divisions among your remaining electoral group in primary challenges, and this may cause you to end up ceding key seats including the governorship to the Democrats even if you make short-term gains.

What the law will do:

1) Not only lose you the Latin-American vote in Arizona, but mobilize them across the country, including other demographically shifting states like Texas, whose conservative legislators are apparently snorting the same cocaine to think a similar law is a great idea. Latin-Americans skew conservative (and Catholic,) but after years of driving them away, including pulling the plug on immigration reform in 2007, this might have just been the final nail condemning Republicans to a minority party for the next half a century.

2) Cause a lot of complications for your wealthy white citizens who supported the law but hire illegal immigrant labor.

3) Lawsuits, lawsuits, lawsuits.

4) Send your economy into the toilet to an extent that will make the damage from the boycott over the Arizona governor’s racist refusal of the federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday look like a 4th of July picnic. At a time when your economy is already in the toilet and desperately relies on tourism.

5) Quite possibly ensure that President Obama is re-elected in 2012.

6) Cause me for the foreseeable future to refer to the Senator as John Weasel-Boy McCain.

And if you happen to have Latin-American grandkids or friends, that just makes it even worse. The lack of thought, the blatant racism, the fear-mongering lies, the total disregard for the Constitution, and the complete uselessness of this law on every issue  is so astonishing that liberal use of narcotics causing you to believe it’s still 1964 seems like the only logical explanation. Even the ever-green argument that you’re sending a message to the Feds makes no sense. What message? We want to destroy ourselves some more? Well, congrats, you did that. Way to serve the people.

Comments Off on Arizona, Were You High?

Filed under Life

Interesting News for a Tuesday

1) The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books racked in 130,000 attendees this last weekend, which is really excellent news. The event included a scavenger hunt with an iPad prize. Among the attendees was bestselling thriller author Mary Higgins Clark, in her 80’s, who is old enough to recall when paperbacks were predicted to destroy the publishing business and so she’s not too worried about ebooks. The London Book Festival, however, unfortunately saw a large downtick in attendance, thanks to the volcanic ash cloud.  (Once again, Volcanic Ash Cloud — great name for a rock band. Also, Feral Miami Chickens.)

2) HarperCollins has teamed up with fashion retailer to launch microsites featuring six titles for women and teen girls, starting with Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City prequel The Carrie Diaries. The sites will contain reading excerpts, author videos, etc., and contests for Asos vouchers. This is part of publisher efforts to branch out further into the wholesale market once again and it is also a great development that any fashion company gives a crap enough to be willing to try it out.  (Of course Bushnell is a t.v./film brand but the others aren’t.) The deal is a sign of books’ increased status lately due to the ebook market getting lots of press. If you want to try out the first one (Bushnell is a fun interview,) the link is:

And if you think this is a sign of the apocalypse, grow up. Anything that makes books desirable or simply visible next to other products is a good thing. And no, it will not kill off literary novels. They have their own special marketing and promotion channels, quite sturdy ones, which is why we have literary bestsellers. And they are going to be doing this sort of thing where they can for those too. And the deal with the fashion house will make ripples through the whole fiction market, not just for “cootie” titles.  The big development here is that other companies want to work with the book publishers, something that has not been easy to get before but is becoming more common, and will allow publishers to further exploit the Web with industries that have much deeper promotional pockets than they do.

3) Hulu, which lets folks in the U.S. watch t.v. shows and other programs on their computer, is not pulling in enough money through advertising. This is not a big surprise as this is a rampant problem throughout the Web. Having lured in many customers with the freebies for several years of parent companies covering the losses, Hulu is now trying to move to a more profitable model. So recent episodes of shows will still be free, but if you want more than that, Hulu will have a subscription service where you can get access to all the videos for US$9.95 a month.  There is going to be a lot more of this one part free, the rest you pay for set-ups for entertainment sites, but certainly Hulu is the biggest for right now.

Leave a comment

Filed under book publishing, Movies/TV

John Levitt Interview

Over on SFFWorld, I got to interview contemporary fantasy writer John Levitt about his series featuring Mason, a magic user, and Lou, his spirit familiar who takes the shape of a dog. This is a very interesting mystery series, starting with the book Dog Days, and Levitt is an interesting guy — a musician and former cop. The third book in the series, Unleashed, came out in November, and the fourth book in the series is due out this fall. You can check out the interview at:

And Levitt’s website is at:

Leave a comment

Filed under SFFH, SFFH Novels to Check Out

2010 SFFH Novels to Check Out

1) Margaret Ronald – Spiral Hunt – Contemporary fantasy — A supernatural tracker must go into the mythic world beneath Boston’s streets.

2) Ian McDonald – Ares Express – SF – A woman journeys across a terra-formed Mars in this sequel to the author’s Desolation Road.

3) Ian Tregillis – Bitter Seeds – Alternate history fantasy – In World War II, magic users fight each other and Britain’s welfare may be up-ended by a mentally disturbed precognitive.

4) Heather Tomlinson – Toads and Diamonds – YA historical fantasy – A fairy tale set in India about two stepsisters and the dangers of curses.

5) James Knapp – State of Decay – SF thriller – In a rigidly controlled future, the dead can be voluntarily reanimated into servants and soldiers of the State, but a cop discovers the system has been corrupted.

6) N.K. Jemisin – The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy) – Alternate world fantasy — A noblewoman in a kingdom devastated by the rulers who have brought peace and prosperity everywhere else must balance justice, revenge and destruction.

7) Adam Roberts – New Model Army – In the near future, Scotland fends off the invasion of a totalitarian England with a new kind of democratic hired army.

Leave a comment

Filed under SFFH, SFFH Novels to Check Out

Coda to Aliens in Pretty Dresses, Part 2

If you’re on the North American continent, Saturday Night Live has as host this week actress Gabourey Sidibe, with musical guest MGMT. Her television show, The Big C, with Laura Linney and Oliver Platt will debut on Showtime Cable in August. And Betty White is hosting SNL May 8th as well. SNL has been ranging from moments of inspired brilliance to mediocre to were the writers drunk when they wrote this that they somehow thought it was funny levels, so it will be kind of interesting to see what they do with these two hosts.


Filed under Life, Movies/TV, Women

Because It’s Friday*

Via SF Signal and Boing Boing, silliness. The actors in the movie Fanboys also do a nice rendition.

*It’s Friday, April 23 where I was when I posted this. Time zones are funny things. What’s it like in the future, Australia?

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies/TV, SFFH

Books, Books Go Everywhere

Being not an audio/visual medium, books have had a harder time exploiting the Internet than movies/t.v. or music. But they catch up, and there are new opportunities dreamed up by time-wasting Net denizens not just to let people know about books, but to remind them that books are fun. Several popping up on the Web recently are:

Taking their cue from the One Book, One City campaigns that have sprung up over the last decade and some, techno journalists at Wired decided to try it through Twitter — pick a book by vote and then try to get as many Twitter users to read it as possible. So what, if they get a tiny fraction of Twitter folk to read the same novel, like oh, a paltry million? Yeah, this could work. Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude are hot in the running, so go check it out if you’re on Twitter and place your vote or suggestion. You’re making a bestseller here, so choose carefully.

A useful use of the Web is getting books into the hands of web-friendly children, and Penguin Books has teamed up with their Pearson Foundation to put books online to interest kids, along with web stuff to further entice them and encourage literacy and reading. Sure, it’s a good deal for Penguin, but it’s also a good cause. If you have kidlets, you may want to check out what they are doing.

And okay, this one is of dubious use for publicizing books and authors. Then again, having people associate good SFF stories with a fun night with pals in a bar isn’t necessarily the worst idea. The SFF Literary Pub Crawl has prominent SFF authors recommending their favorite pubs and bars which you can then go visit and drink and talk about books. And you never know, the authors may show up there from time to time.

Leave a comment

Filed under book publishing, SFFH

Happy Earth Day

Isn’t she pretty?

Leave a comment

Filed under Life

Still Adjusting

I’m still trying to work out this spam filter stuff so that comments don’t get accidentally axed. If you put up a comment and it didn’t appear in say a day or so, try re-sending. Go light on the hyperlinks in comments. Sorry about this, but it’s a learning process. 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog Issues