writers

EmzChat with Mike Bennett

With a voice that can chill your bones and a personality that draws in his listeners, Mike Bennett is on his way to becoming the finest horror storyteller our generation has known. Mike has oodles of creepy short stories included in his podcast Hall of Mirrors and reads other classic horror tales on his podcast called Sometimes. Mike grew up as a Science Fiction fan in England. He currently resides in Ireland where he is a teacher, but when the lights go out – or sometimes even during daylight – Mike becomes the macabre voice behind the mic bringing us such gems as Hair and Skin and his newest vampire novel, Underwood and Flinch. I was fortunate to be able to ask Mike some questions recently about fandom, his life, and what scared him as a child. EM: What were you a fan of as a kid? MB: Spiderman, The New X-Men (well, they were 'new' then, now they're just The X-Men), Batman, James Herbert's Rats Trilogy, especially the last one, "Domain". I also loved Man from UNCLE paperbacks. I still have a complete set. Doctor Who (70s), Marine Boy, The Persuaders, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Starsky and Hutch.

EM: Who might you turn fanboy for today? MB: I met Tom (Dr. Who) Baker once. I nearly fainted. I was working in a bookshop and he came in to see if we were selling his book, The Boy Who Kicked Pigs. Fortunately, we had it in stock. I showed him around and got him to sign a copy.

EM: What was the first real life experience that freaked you the hell out? MB: Being relentlessly pursued - and finally bitten - by a horsefly.

EM: Which of your works is your favorite? MB: Underwood and Flinch.

EM: When you were researching for Underwood and Flinch, what kinds of tools did you use? MB: I lived in a small Andalucian town for six months. That gave me the insight into how a place like Almacena and its inhabitants worked. For vampire background, I watched all the Hammer Dracula movies (not exactly research, I know, but I enjoyed myself) and read Christopher Fraying's book, Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula. I also re-read Dracula.

EM: Is there any project that caused you more work than you were expecting? What would you do differently? MB: Underwood and Flinch is a write-to-podcast affair. I began podcasting it as soon as I'd completed a rough first draft. In hindsight, I'd prefer to have completely finished the book first and had an editor look it over and then I'd have implemented the edits and done another draft and so on and so on. But then again, the probability is, I wouldn't have done the whole editor thing and later re-writes. If I hadn't started podcasting it when I did, I mightn't have ever taken the project any further. I would have more likely started work on something else and come back to U&F later - maybe. Maybe not. I don't know.

EM: How did you get involved in The Parent Vac project and what possessed you to become a vacuum salesman and an undead dad on film? MB: My wife and I went down to Wexford to visit some friends, and someone said, 'Let's make a movie'. I was given the task of making up the story, so I looked around to see what props we had. We had a vacuum cleaner and a hat. I threw the story together and we improvised the lines over one or two takes.

EM: Where can readers find out more about you? MB: www.MikeBennettPodcast.Com or www.UnderwoodAndFlinch.Com

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Micro-Magazines: Future or Fad of Media

An on-demand book printer at the Internet Arch... Image via Wikipedia

Seth Godin (among others) proposes that Micro-magazines are the Future of Media.  He defines a Micro-magazine as:

  • Being digital (probably a PDF), that's free to 'print', fast to make and easy to share. (Newsweek spends seventeen million dollars a year on paper.)
  • Having subscribers, either by email or RSS
  • Focused on issues that appeal to some, but not all
  • Having a very specific audience (call it a tribe)
  • Enabling that tribe to connect by sharing the ideas in the magazine among them, as well as supporting it with a forum or blog
  • Containing ads that are relevant to that audience
  • Being longer than 140 characters or even a blog post, so significant ideas can be exposed in detail (Seth Godin)

This is not a new idea, it is an old one. So let's start by calling them what they are.  Every time I see the word Micro-Magazine I really want to say Micromachines and John Moschitta, Jr.  I feel like I need to start talking as fast as I possibly can.  What we are really talking about are Zines: Extremely focused magazines made by people you have a strong interest in the subject for people with a strong interest in the subject.

I know some people won't like my use of Zine here.  To them, they think of poorly photocopied, saddle-stitched pamphlets someone cooked up in their mother's basement.  I think of the periodicals I always loved to read, and looked forward to more than any other.  To each their own, but we cannot have this discussion unless we are honest with ourselves.  What we are really talking about is the professionalizing of Zine publication.  Low cost, quality content for a focused audience.

That said, let's look at each of Seth's points individually:

Being digital

Agreed.  Future of media is digital publishing.

File Format

I call upon all Gods and Devils to prevent the PDF from being the format of the future!

The format of the future is going to be variable.  It needs to be available on the web, as a download, as an app for our favorite mobile device, and print on demand.  It needs to be available in every format a reader may want to read it in.  Conversly, there needs to be a singular tool for the publisher to post once and have the content appear every where.

Sharing

The format need to be easy to share.  One button click to all our favorite networks, to email, and to print.  How ever the reader wants to share it, out it goes.

Subscriptions

Why do podcasts work?  1 click subscriptions.

The platform will need to have the ability to allow the reader to subscribe in the manner of their choosing in one click and to have the content auto-delivered.  Email and RSS already exist, it is possible though not easy to make a mobile app, but it also needs to be added automatically to our Kindles, iBook shelf, or to be mailed via a print on demand.  Options are the solution.

Focused Content

The content needs to be focused.  That is why we offer the new minisites on dashPunk so people who are only interested in a particular subject can find that content easier.

The days of Mass Media are for the most part over.  The long term future in in producing content that will appeal to a niche audience and evangelizing for the importance of niche to bring more people in.

A Tribe of its own

Some topics appeal to a lot of people, others don't.  The trick is to find a way to get your tribe to support the Zine no matter the size.

It is also important to let your tribe talk to itself.  The more people involved the stronger the Zine will be for it.

Monetization

Awwwww, I said a dirty word.

I would really like to be a utopian, but everything costs money, and thus has to make money to succeed.  It is a hard truth to face, but that's the deal.  If I want to give my content away for free, I have to sell ads to cover the cost, and hope that my readers will support my sponsors and affiliates, shop in my Amazon Stores, and buy my books.

I know that this is a great place to link out to these thinks, but I feel like that would violate my contract with my readers.  I am not posting to advertise the ways I make money, but to share thoughts I find interesting.  I know I can tell went someone is pushing a sale and I think you all can to.  That is a lesson I think more writers need to learn.

Content Collection and Exploring Ideas

This is the Holy Grail.

  • The Problem: (Content) longer than 140 characters or even a blog post, so significant ideas can be exposed in detail
  • The Solution: The Link.

Hypertext does this really well.  The MMO Aoin does this very well in that all Mission text is linked to dictionary articles, which link to the game's UI.  I never leave the game to find out more information.  I can easily surface this information if I want to, but it doesn't clutter the game if I am not interested.

Google Living Stories is an interesting model for this, but it is not polished enough to be useful yet, but it is movement in the right direction.

Scribd has also delivers some of these features, but in isolation of any of the other content.

My Dream WordPress Project

Everyone has their favorite Open Source project.  Mine is WordPress.  I would love to see a BuddyPress scale open source project to bring these features into WordPress in a way that is simple and easy to use.  If there are any developers out there interested in starting this project.  I will set up a site and start gathering resources for it.

We can build a better media for the future, we just need to put our heads together and make it happen.

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Baycon: The Bay Area Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention

I will be at Baycon 2010, handing out freebies, speaking on panels and generally having a good time. Please come join me! If you see me, don't be afraid to approach for goodies!  Let me know you were referred by dashpunk.com to get an extra goodie!

The Bay Area Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention May 28-31, 2010 The Hyatt Regency, Santa Clara, CA

Guests of Honor

Writer: Peter S. Beagle Fan: Colleen and Steve Savitzky Toastmaster: Tadao Tomomatsu Artist: Lee Moyer Special Guests: Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon

Meet Author Emerian Rich

Night's Knights Book Release Party

AuthorPicFriday, October 30th 7:00 p.m. Bay Books Concord

  • Dress as your favorite vampire.
  • Meet author and hostess of HorrorAddicts.net, Emerian Rich.
  • Enjoy vampire-inspired snacks.
  • Hear a live reading.
  • Trick or Treat.
  • Be one of the first 24 people to buy her book and get free dogtags to commemorate the event.
  • With your Night’s Knights purchase, receive a free companion booklet with author notes, sketches, and fan works.

http://www.baybooks.us

Bay Books Concord 1669 Willow Pass Road Concord, CA 94520

(925) 671-2245

288x424NK

Email your questions for Joss Whedon

Joss Whedon at the premiere of Serenity (film)
Image via Wikipedia

Even though I am miffed with Hulu over their choice to remove themselves from Boxee, this is a rare chance for fans to ask Joss questions.

Have a burning question for the brains behind Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dr. Horrible and Dollhouse? Now's your chance to ask Joss Whedon for answers. See if you can get him to spill the beans about his latest heroine, Echo, and whether we'll ever see Dr. Horrible on Broadway. Send your questions to askjoss@hulu.com by 9 a.m. PST on Wednesday, February 25 (Hulu).

Good luck getting your question to him.  I know I am going to come up with some goodies to ask the master of dark fiction.

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Introducing David J. Williams

I am so fortunate to have met David through Facebook.  I really wish I had more time to read, his book, The Mirrored Heavens has cast a spell over me, and I sneak a moment to read a section every free moment I can.  As soon as I finish, I will post a review.  Until then, meet David.

Why did you start writing?

For that I have (at least) five answers. I hate to privilege one above the other, so let's just chalk this one up as "overdetermined."

Answer #1: I was working in management consulting, I'd turned thirty, I was bored shitless with the corporate world, and I could feel time burning down on me like a #$# candle.

Answer #2: I'd done some work on the side with friends in Vancouver, BC in the video game industry, and through a strange fluke got co-writing credits for Relic Entertainment's Homeworld. But the next day I was back at the corporate world, hating it more than ever, and wondering why I was living in a universe where I had friends who drew spaceships for a living while I was stuck staring at profit-loss spreadsheets.

Answer #3: I suddenly had one of those moments like in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy realizes all the Nazis are digging in the wrong place: i.e., I got a glimpse of an area of SF that no one was tapping into (near-future space weaponization across the Earth-Moon system), and I wondered what a novel in such a setting would look like.

Answer #4: I became obsessed with the notion of what cyberpunk would be like if the state DIDN'T wither away.

Answer #5: I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Where do you get your ideas?

I read a ton of history, and that's where a lot of my ideas come from.  What's happened in the past offers plenty of rich source material, especially because you can mine all sorts of obscure events and everyone thinks you're being totally original.  : )

Also worth mentioning is the extent to which I study the U.S. military, and their planning for future war.  The military's under no illusions that the center of gravity of warfare is shifting into space, and they've got a lot of stuff in the public domain tracing the implications.  I tried to map that out a hundred years, and ask what would space war be like if it was realistic, and obeyed the laws of orbital dynamics, and didn't just feature spaceships doing physically-impossible dogfights.  (don't get me wrong, I love that kind of thing, but it's not what I write.)

What was the process of writing The Mirrored Heaven like?

At first it was like running around in the woods with a flashlight. You think there's something out there, but you don't know what, and you start to think you're going crazy. Eventually I had hundreds of pages of incoherent writing, and at some point during that process I started to realize how badly and totally all of it sucked. It was four years before I managed to find the voice/style I'd been searching for, and about that long before the plot really started to come together. (having an eighty-hour-a-week dayjob from hell might have lengthened the process, but OTOH maybe it made me more focused). But in the last few years, things started to really move, and by 2006 I felt like one of those rock bands that's gotten really tight, and might just get lucky enough to land a record deal. Which I eventually did . . .but sometimes I miss those days when I circled round the far side of Mars and didn't even know what I was staring at . . .

What was the process like to find a publisher?

About as hard as people tell you it is. Agents only want to look at veteran writers, and publishers only want writers with agents. As a general rule, unless you know somebody at a publisher, you have to start with the agents, but the problem is that the query-letter process is a #$# meatgrinder—or at least, one that I never mastered. In my opinion, the key is to somehow meet the agents directly; I met mine (Jenny Rappaport) at WorldCon (LA, 2006) . . . though anyone who knows anything about this business knows that WorldCon is the LAST place to meet an agent. But sometimes not knowing the rules is a big help.

What is it like working with a publisher?

You hear all these horror stories in the blogosphere, but I gotta say, working with Bantam Spectra has been great. Largely that's because of Juliet Ulman, my editor; she made the book heaps better than it was when she bought it, and taught me a great deal across the editing process. Plus I love the cover the artist (Paul Youll) did . . .eighty stories above the burning Amazonian delta city of Belem-Macapa . . .

What has the post publication experience been?

On one level, awesome. To have characters who dwelt for years within my head out in the world being experienced by readers is absolutely #$# amazing.

But on another level, it's humbling. At the risk of revisiting that rock band analogy, most bands that make a debut album never make another. It's the same with novels; this is very much an "up or out" business: you have to break through to that next level, or you won't survive. I'm fortunate in that I signed a three-book deal with Bantam Spectra, which gives me more momentum that I might have had otherwise. Above all else, the thing to remember about post publication experience is that you've got the second book to worry about, and that had better be ten times more insane than the first.


You can learn more about David at his site: Autumn Rain 2110, and don't forget to say "Hi!"in the HQ

Forrest J Ackerman, Deceased.

According to the LA Times

Ackerman, a writer, editor and literary agent who has been credited with coining the term "sci-fi" in the 1950s, died Thursday of heart failure at his home in Los Angeles, said John Sasser, a friend who is making a documentary on Ackerman.

Ackerman was 92 when he passed away and an inspiration to many. One of the ways he influenced our generation and those that came before us, was his position as editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland. Though of his more famous achievements he was the writer/creator of the characters Vampirella and Jeanie of Questar.

He was a huge fan of all things fantasy, horror, and sci-fi which as stated in his LA Times Obituary, he was

a man who actually had known Lugosi and Karloff and whose priceless collection of science-fiction, horror and fantasy artifacts ran to some 300,000 items.

Which could possibly be the largest in the world, if not close.

Watch Forrest J Ackerman brief history of early Sci-Fi video here

His death is a great loss to all of fandom across the greater Speculative Fiction genre.

The First Vampyre Tale, 1819

Recently, while doing research for a horror book discussion, I found an article on Wikipedia that talked about the first vampire fiction. According to Wikipedia, “The literary vampire first appeared in eighteenth century poetry, before becoming one of the stock figures of gothic fiction with the publication of John William Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819), which was inspired by the life and legend of Lord Byron.” In an attempt to find more about it, I ran across a website that had The Vampyre in text format. I was so excited, I almost injured myself trying to click fast enough on the link! Let me tell you about this awesome find.

If you can get past the many typos that this free online text has, it is worth the read for any vampire fan. At times I did have to read a sentence twice because of the old English language and the run on sentences. It has almost no dialogue, which for some can be a trial. However, to be able to read a piece of work that has inspired so many awesome vampire books is amazing. It’s almost like watching an old silent movie. There’s something about the art of it that allows you to soak up ambience you don’t always get in modern fast-paced tales.

The Vampyre, though original in its day, is predictable. Lord Ruthven, the vampyre, is a gambler, womanizer, and known throughout the ton for “hurling young ladies from the pinnacle of unsullied virtue, down to the lowest abyss of infamy and degradation”. Got to love that language. There is an innocent gentleman, Mr. Aubrey, who travels with Lord Ruthven. When Aubrey finds out about his friend’s “licentious habits that are dangerous to society” he distances himself and attempts to go on with his life. Aubrey soon learns that you can’t just walk away with out injury as the vampyre maliciously attempts to ruin all that is good in his world on the false pretense of being his closest and dearest friend.

My favorite section of this tale is when a woman tells of vampires and what they are known to do.

…often as she told him the tale of the living vampyre, who had passed years amidst his friends, and dearest ties, forced every year, by feeding upon the life of a lovely female to prolong his existence for the ensuing months, his blood would run cold, but lathe cited to him the names of old men, who had at last detected one living among themselves, after several of their near relatives and children had been found marked with the stamp of the fiend’s appetite…

You can enjoy this tale yourself, by going to: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/6087

Michael Crichton died

OMG, my jaw dropped.

Michael Crichton, the million-selling author who made scientific research terrifying and irresistible in such thrillers as "Jurassic Park," "Timeline" and "The Andromeda Strain," has died of cancer, his family said (AP).

This is a shock.  I was just talking about his books this weekend.  His imagination will be missed by his fans, and he will be missed by his family and friends.

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Interview With Jeff Carlson

**Possible Spoilers**

The Plague series by Jeff Carlson is about a nanotech plague that erupts in California and soon takes over the world. Supposedly a cure for cancer, this plague begins to eat away at anything under roughly ten thousand feet. People are forced up into the mountains for fear of dying from the completely debilitating flesh-eating nano. Soon, the global population is hiding on various heights seemingly floating above the invisible sea of computer plague. These books are so real that you begin to find yourself asking, “What if this happened tomorrow?” According to author, Jeff Carlson, it could. What makes him the authority on the realness of the computer plague? He’s been talking to scientists working on similar projects as we speak.

The trilogy has been called ingenious, thrilling, and cutting edge. Here are my thoughts on each of the books:

Plague Year

The first few pages of Plague Year confused me because I am not used to reading a book that jumps so quickly into action. I thought perhaps it would be too "fast-pace thriller" for me to finish. However, Jeff’s ability to make you feel emotion about the characters when you hardly know any back-story on them really amazed me. He did get into their back stories as the novel progressed. There were exciting surprises later on as far as who did what before the plague. These characters are real and once you start reading, you begin to feel like they are your buddies out on that hill. It’s as if you are standing in the huddled masses with them.

This book can scare the crap out of you. Living in Nor Cal, the news reports about what cities the plague takes over as it eats its way across the country seemed too real. Jeff makes you feel like you are watching the news reports on TV. Maybe you’ll be the one making a call to your mom in the hotzone. Maybe you’ll be the one gathering supplies and heading for the hills.

While I was reading Plague Year, I found myself thinking about how long it would take me to pack up my family and flee. My mind would start charting ways to get to Tahoe if the roads were blocked. Then I'd remember it wasn’t really happening and calm down.

As far as all the scientist and military stuff is concerned, I am not an expert. Jeff explained well enough for me to understand what the nano does without making me bored or feel inadequate.

One portion of the book I thought he did particularly well was where one of the characters is in a wheelchair and unable to express himself. The anger and desperation Jeff creates is quite powerful.

While reading the Plague series, you might find yourself taking a few more showers than usual as his descriptions of grime, bugs, sores etc... are excellently detailed.

When I read the first book I thought the end of the book portion where they finally go into a city could have been longer. I felt like I missed out on what they actually did while hiding. Good news! He goes into that more in the sequel.

Overall I was surprised how much this book pulled me in and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to read something no one's ever done before.

Plague War

I was surprised to find that although this sequel was in the same style as the first, it had a different sort of tone. The relationship between the two main characters Ruth and Cam is infectious. They each have their issues and it’s interesting to see how they interact with each other. The sexual tension that Plague War delivers is amazing considering all the characters are grimy, nano-bitten, unwashed, scrappers who will do anything to survive.

This book causes you to feel the desperation of a world that is in constant threat of annihilation. However, the characters have the hope to survive and the power of the human spirit to carry on, no matter what the obstacle.

Some of the untouched mountain people infuse this story with a newness, that by this time you would expect not to exist. The contrast of the beaten down warriors against these innocent, fresh-snow-like individuals is really an excellent contrast in a book that is about fighting for life.

There is a lot of war talk in this book. Military actions, governments colliding, plots foiled, plans carried out. Since I am not a fan of military stories, I was slightly distracted by this. However, the human relationships of the people in those uniforms carried me through those sections of the book. If you are a military enthusiast, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how detailed this book is.

I was happy to see the reappearance of some of the characters from book one that I did not expect. Hernandez was a pleasant returnee. His point of view was intriguing because of his lack of control over the situation that was happening to him. I felt his struggle between what he knew was right and how he was going to survive.

Ulinov, who I disliked the most after book one, was one of the most interesting characters to read about because we get to see his allegiance to his country. It may not be a very popular thing to say, but I think I was actually on his side when the bomb hit.

With the set up of possible resolution in book 2, I am expecting great things from book three, Mind Plague, which comes out Summer 2009.

To find out more about Jeff Carlson, visit his site at: http://www.jverse.com and listen to my podcast interview on the Project Shadow Informant podcast:

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Free Issue of Weird Tales

wt350-232x300 Weird Tales magazine is giving away free copies of their July/August issue for free! Download it here.

Need a reason to get it?  Check out the table of contents:

Fiction

ALL IN | Peter Atwood

  • Now this is truly organized gambling.

HOW I GOT HERE | Ramsey Shehadeh

  • Between Heaven and Hell lie the streets of D.C.

BELAIR PLAZA | Adam Corbin Fusco

  • There is no such thing as a cursed shopping center.

AN INVITATION VIA EMAIL | Mike Allen

  • Getting tenure must be a real pain in the ass.

MAINEVERMONTNEWHAMPSHIREMASS| Nick Mamatas

  • And then the horror convention got a little epic.

THE STONE-HEARTED QUEEN | Kelly Barnhill

  • She shared her father’s magic — but enough of it?

GANARANOK | Rory Steves

  • A Shakesperean love story, plus antennae.

EVOLUTION | Karen Heuler

  • Can’t wait to grow up and escape Mom’s claws.

RIGHT YOU ARE IF YOU SAY YOU ARE| Norman Spinrad

  • The princess was hot. Hotter than the dragonfire

Features

Mike Mignola: Hellboy’s Dad\

  • The creator of Hellboy chats with Elizabeth Genco about Dracula, Lovecraft, and making weird comics.

Summer Reading Weirducopia

  • An array of bizarre new books — plus an exclusive excerpt from the hot new steam-fantasy novel The Court of the Air!

Departments

  • THE EYRIE | evolutions, transformations, metamorphoses
  • WEIRDISM | music of the dark, terror of the night
  • THE LIBRARY & BAZAAR | weird books and fantastical masks
  • HARVEY PELICAN & CO. | special offers from the esoterica king
  • LOST IN LOVECRAFT | a literary journey with Kenneth Hite
  • THE CRYPTIC | fantastic commentary by Darrell Schweitzer
  • FEEDBACK | what you thought of “The 85 Weirdest Storytellers”

Download it here.

A must have for Movie Writers working in the DC universe

get your copy of the DC Comic Encyclopedia here and help support the Project With the conversation and buzz building up over who will be in the next Batman Movie I thought we should take a moment to point out what should be the obvious.  The DC Comics Encyclopedia is a must have for any writer of DC comics movie. This book is a wonderful reference full of heroes and villains from the DC Universe.  For each character they give at basic bio sheet, what comics they appear in and a couple of paragraphs with some basic information.  They also cover the different organizations like The Justice League and The Justice Society.  As a fan I love this book and use it often as a quick reference sometimes to refresh my memory and with the more obscure characters like Bat-Mite a good starting source of information.

Batmite2 If only they would have used this when writing Batman Begins they would have at least got some of the basic setting and character facts correct.   Is that too much to ask?

The DC Comics Encyclopedia

Orson Scott Card Wins Wrong Award

Orson Scott Card, the reason I have been boycotting Ultimate Iron Man and Red Prophet has won an award for:

"an author's work in helping adolescents become aware of themselves and addressing questions about their role and importance in relationships, society, and in the world (Pink Kryptonite)."

Really? The homophobic author who campaigns on his website for the illegalization of sex gender relationships... really? This person deserves an award?

Should a writer's work be judged because of their personal beliefs? So long as we place them within the proper cultural context in which they lived. There are many things that in the past were viewed as racially progressive that are now seen as racially insensitive. But this is the 21st century...

I am open about by political, personal, and religious beliefs. I know that some will judge me and refuse to read me work because of them. I do not want to support an artist that hates people like me, because supporting that artist is supporting that hate speech.

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) put him on their list of the Best Books for Young Adults and gave him their Margaret A Edwards Award, which is the same as saying, "Give money to this anti-GLBT crusader and teach your kids to see this bigot as a voice of authority."

Shame on them. Continue the boycott of Orson Scott Card and all who support him.

(via After Elton)

Voting for American Gods

On Feburary 9th the pole opened to elect one of Neil Gaiman's books that would be given away for free. The titles to choose from were: American Gods, Anansi Boys, Coraline, Fragile Things, M is for Magic, Neverwhere, Smoke & Mirrors, Stardust. It was Neil Gaiman's blogs 7th birthday and he wanted to do something fun so he worked it out with his publisher Harper Collins that he could put up one of his books for free for at least a month. Go Neil... thank you for helping to open the eyes of those traditional publishing houses. I like it when the publishers get woken up to the greater world of promotions especially when it is over a more scary tactic like giving free book copies. With the help of established writers smoothing the path then the little known writers and new writers will have a greater chance of getting a green light on promotional ideas like giving away a book copy. Neil asked his fans:

"What I want you to do is think -- not about which of the books below is your favourite, but if you were giving one away to a friend who had never read anything of mine, what would it be? Where would you want them to start?"

Instead of just choosing the title himself, Neil put it up for vote for one week on his blog. This was also a great choice because some times the artist is too close to their projects to see exactly how it is interacting in the wild. Just ask the guys over at KISS, they thought that Beth was a B-side throwaway song and once in the wild it went on to become as extremely popular title.417QGN93XKL._SL210_

After 26,400 votes, American Gods won with 28% of the vote.

He was suprised that the fans made that choice and said:

"I don't think I would have put up American Gods as a first choice for free book myself -- mostly because a) it's really long and b) it divides people. As far as I can tell, for every five people who read it, one loves it utterly, two or three like it to varying degrees, and one hates it, cannot see the point to it and needs convincing that it's a novel at all."

But he was thrilled over the process and will still go with the choice because as he put it that is democracy.

Neil Gaiman will post the links to get a copy of the free book latter when those details are available.

(via Neil Gaiman)

Anne McCaffrey endorses John Edwards

annemccaffreyThe Master Harper of Earth, Anne McCaffrey has cast her support behind John Edwards in the upcoming primary election:

When you are casting your vote this November, remember what Great and Envied Americans were. You need a leader this time who has policies so he can effect to repair domestic needs and dealing fairly with our allies. John Edwards has such a domestic policy (read it for yourself on his website) [her link, not mine]. See also that he will effect a program which will repair our own great works of art and commerce before there are more bridges falling into troubled waters (The Worlds of Anne McCaffrey).

While I have avoided making to many political statements this year, I agree with all of the problems she outlines for the US both foreign and domestic. I am not sure that I agree with her endorsement, but my vote is still up for grabs. Her endorsement is very well reasoned. With so much at stake in the coming election, it is good to expose ourselves to as many points of view as possible.

I hope we can heal the wounds in our nation, and repair our image oversees. On that, at least, Anne McCaffrey and I agree.