Monday, July 30, 2018

Did you know that I have a book coming out?

Thanks to The Passive Voice for pointing out this essay:

Did you know that I have a book coming out? If you’ve visited any of your social media channels even once in the past month, you should know. It is very important for the world to know that I have written a book that is actually getting published so I have posted pictures of the following: me writing my book; me editing my book; me pressing send on an email to my editor; a Boomerang of me opening a box of my finished books; a video of me in Barnes & Noble finding my book; a repost of every single reader who posted a picture of themselves reading my book; every review I’ve ever gotten (with negative bits artfully cropped out); and, of course, the obligatory publication day bonanza photo that I doctored with confetti. They really should create a dedicated “I wrote a book” emoji. Need to speak to someone in Silicon Valley about that.

- - -
Did you know that I have a book coming out? You should know because you’ve been invited to at least five different readings and six different parties celebrating my accomplishments. Wait! You’re kidding, right? Are you absolutely sure that other people don’t throw parties for themselves just for doing their jobs? That’s so strange. Are you telling me that if you finished your accounting reports on time and did all the work for which you were contractually obligated you wouldn’t have a cocktail party to celebrate?

But you should really click through to the original at McSweeney's and RTWT. It's all good.

And since the formatting service I use won't be able to get to Tapestry of Fire for a whole week, I may have time to forget how ugly unbridled narcissism looks before I start pushing the new book...

Saturday, July 28, 2018


For the last week I've been reading in circles. The ebook cover for the next Applied Topology book, A Tapestry of Fire, is ready and all I had to do was give the document a couple of serious proofreading passes before sending it off to the formatting service I use.
Or so I thought.
Instead, I've been going over the manuscript again and again with frustrating and confusing results.
I'm almost ready to go back to proofreading from a printed, dead-tree manuscript! That's how I used to do it, but since getting into indie publishing I've found an easier method -- at least, up to now it was easier. I convert the Word document of a book to PDF and send it to my Kindle via Amazon's automatic conversion program. That program isn't good enough to use for publication -- it gets kind of funky about hyphens, em dashes, and paragraphs -- but it does produce a version of the book which I can read on my Kindle. And it turns out that what I personally need for proofreading isn't necessarily hardcopy; it's something that mimics my reading experience. I read so many books on Kindle that this is quite comfortable for proofreading and minor editing.
The way it usually works, I read the Kindle version of the manuscript and use the Notes feature to highlight typos and wording changes. Then I open the manuscript on my laptop, in Word, and refer to the Notes on the Kindle version to find the places I need to fix. Two or three passes are usually sufficient to give me a nice clean manuscript -- and I'd already reviewed A Tapestry of Fire more than once. So, a piece of cake, right?
Wrong. This particular piece of cake has given me severe indigestion. On one reading, my Kindle decides to show me only the notes for the second half of the book. On another, I discover actual typos which I distinctly remember seeing and correcting at least two revision cycles earlier. I've been going over and over the manuscript and I think it's clean now, but I'm going to look at it again tomorrow. Just in case.
I've been at a loss to explain these sudden problems; or rather, any explanation I come up with is unsatisfactory. Amazon's Notes for the Kindle is suddenly experiencing random failures? Doesn't seem likely. Microsoft Word is sadistically refusing to save random editing changes? I'm almost paranoid enough to believe that one, but not without a motive.
Or -- here's the scary one -- my own brain is shutting down, giving me false memories of having corrected typos I never actually fixed?
That one is so terrifying that I temporarily quit thinking about the problem at all, because I am not ready to go soft in the head. I've got the last book and a half in this series written and I want to finish them, and then I've got a new book ready to go, and... not yet! Please don't let my mind fail yet! Can't it wait until I don't have any more book ideas?
Then, last night, it came to me.
Of course. Amazon and Microsoft are teaming up to make me think I'm crazy, as part of their secret plan for world domination. And Charles Boyer is probably in on it too.
Paranoia. It's good for solving your problems.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Taking flak means you're over the target

I figured some of the books in the Applied Topology series would offend a few people; oh, I didn't set out with that object, but one of the pleasures of writing indie is that I don't have to slip everything past an editor who is bent on removing anything that anybody could possibly find offensive. A generation ago that attitude might have made sense, but nowadays there are far too many people taking offense at far too many things; if I tried to keep all of the Perpetually Righteously Offended happy, my books would be as bland as Cream of Wheat and I'd be too bored to keep writing.

Instead, I let my real characters have real opinions that haven't been passed through the Blandifier. The mathematicians are terrible intellectual snobs, the college kids think all of West Texas and the Panhandle are a boring wasteland, Thalia hates guns and she's dating a guy whose best friend is his Glock. And readers who lack the mental capacity to tell the difference between an author's opinions and those of a character are gonna get bent out of shape.

So... a friend just sent me a link to a really impressively offended review on Goodreads. I laughed my way through it. You gotta admire someone who can determine in the first five pages of a book that the author panders to the nasty and dangerous to sell books and can only move the story forward by touting racist ideology. As far as I can tell, the reviewer came to this conclusion based on the opinion of one character about one plot to establish a terror cell in Austin.

So. Having a character who thinks terrorists might be crossing our porous Southern border is racist. Having a character who accuses the first one of lacking compassion for innocent refugees is... irrelevant, I guess.

You can't argue with people so determined to take offense. You can only laugh at them and move on. Oh, wait. Laughing is also offensive; the same reviewer also complains that I "mock political correctness." Do tell.

I've been worried that the only people who actually read the books were the ones in my little circle of online friends, most of whom are equally politically incorrect. Well, hallelujah! Now I know I've broken out into a larger market!
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