C4N3 Virus

May 30, 2009

Doctors would be examining my infection-filled carcass just like that.

If I had enough strength to get to them.

Planned posts will have to wait.

Unless I die.

Then we’re all out of luck.

Hogdoggin’ Blog Book Tour, Baby!!

May 28, 2009

Crime fiction writer Anthony Neil Smith‘s crew is here as part of the Virtual Motorcycle Rally blog book tour to display his word wizardry, so all of you will go buy his latest novel, Hogdoggin’, out in about a week from those fine folks at Bleak House Books. And you’d better buy Yellow Medicine too. Because it’s also damned good!

And now, Anthony Neil Smith…

In the Last Episode, Sophie Littlefield had a girl’s night out… busting heads, that is.

He just showed up out of nowhere — materialized, like Star Trek — on the front porch of the Virtual Dive Bar, walked on inside carrying some computerized tablet of some sort, and sat down at the bar, started reading.

The folks at Fry’s table gawked. They’d never seen anything like him before. He kind of shimmered, flickered. You could almost see through him. Forget Star Trek. This was full-on Jedi shit.

Everyone looked at Fry, like he knew what the hell was going on. He shrugged.

“Well,” Richie Rich shoved Fry’s shoulder. “Go talk to him. Here…” The kid handed over a knife. “Try to stab him.”

“Shit, I’m not doing that in Smith’s joint. You crazy?” But he sat on the edge of his seat, still hopped to the gills after four days of nonstop crank. Knee bouncing. He didn’t give the knife back. “All right, all right, all right. I’m going. Yes, I’m going over there.”

So he got up and walked to the shimmering stranger at the bar.

Sat next to him.

The man went about his business. Reading the tablet.

Fry was about to talk to him, but then had a feeling. An urge. He looked back at the table, where his friends were all staring, mouths agape.

Fry looked back at the man — an angel? A ghost? — still feeling this urge in his gut. So he did it. He reached out to touch the guy.

His hand went right through.

The man said, “Stop doing that.”

Fry jerked his hand back, held it like he’d been burnt, even though everything was perfectly fine.

“What… what are you?”

The man turned his face to Fry, his eyes like cameras. “You mean like, what race? What religion? What political affiliation? What species? Be specific, man.”

Fry blinked. “You’re not a person.”

“Oh, but I am a person. Very much so. Just a person who can be in two places at one time.”

“How is that?”



The camera eyes rolled. “No, you fucking idiot. Technology. Computers.” He held up his tablet. “Like this, you know, I’ve got about 500 books in this thing. In the old days, I couldn’t even carry five books around without dropping one. Now, Five. Hundred.” Raised his eyebrows.

Fry shook his head. “I ain’t much of a reader.”

The shimmering stranger sighed, said, “I know. I already guessed that. But Lafitte might be, I hear. And Steel God, too.”

Fry remembered Steel God reading some nights, propped on his elbow beside his bike. Mostly paperbacks. Mostly sci-fi or porn.

“What are you doing here?”

The man set his tablet on the counter and looked as if he knew his reading time was shot for the day. Then he grinned and slowly explained to Fry, “I’m here all the time. I drop in, check it out, see what’s happening. It’s a break from Tweeting.”

“Yeah, okay. I knew it. You’re a tweaker.”

“No tweeting… never mind. Just… hey, Smith!” He waved the bartender over. “Tell this guy who I am.”

Smith said, “That’s Mike.”

“Tell him I’m a regular.”

A nod. “Oh, yeah. Regular Mike. Drinks here often.”

Fry stood, knocked his barstool backwards. Exploded. “BUT HE AIN’T REAL!”

“Sure he is.”

“Watch.” Fry pulled out the knife and started stabbing Mike. Swiped his chest, face, arms, legs. Mike just sat there staring. Not cut one damn time. The ghostly image turned to Smith and said, “Can’t you do something about this asshole?”

Smith shrugged. “Not until the Rally is over, I guess.”

“Ah, well. It’s not your fault.” He turned to Fry. “Asshole.”

And then he disappeared.

Fry stared at the empty barstool a long time before finally giving up thinking about it. He ordered the worst bourbon the bar carried — Fighting Cock — and sat sipping. A tablet that let you carry five hundred books around? Well… ain’t that the shit?

* * *

I’d like to thank Mike for his support of my work. I really appreciate all the kind things he’s said, and all of the people he’s talked up Yellow Medicine to.

You can find Mike on Twitter quite often, talking about ebooks, some great television shows, and the end of the world (which he thinks will be here next Tuesday). But don’t you dare follow him. No no. If you do, you’d better mean it.

I look forward to the day when this ebook thing he preaches about catches on more, and I’d like to see my current published novels available in that format. But for the time being, I’ll salute Mike Cane for his efforts, and stick to the paperbacks until I can afford one of those damned readers!

Next up, Bill Crider is a dirty, dirty son of a bitch. Buy him a drink.

On the Jukebox: Moby, “Run On”

* * *

Hop over to see the post I did for Smith’s blog that inspired him to write this custom post!

And then go buy Hogdoggin’! You’ll love it!

Virtual Motorcycle Rally Here Tomorrow!

May 27, 2009

Yeah, they’ve already parked their bikes outside!

But it will take them until tomorrow to show up here!

Meanwhile, check out the action leading up to this at Crimedog One and at Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.

Do it before they show up here! They might want to give you a test!

The Information

May 27, 2009

“You’re trying to stop the information. You see, that’s where it’s sad. You can’t stop the information because the information keeps the country strong! You need the deviant! Don’t shut him up! You need that madman to stand up to tell you when you’re blowing it! And the harder you come down on the deviant, the more you need him!”

Hewlett-Packard Has An eBook Reader?

May 26, 2009

I don’t know why others haven’t picked up on what appears to be a leak in a Fortune magazine article about Amazon:

(Other competition is coming from publishers such as Hearst and computing companies, including HP. Apple is rumored to be mulling a reader too. Chances are they will all include some wireless connection.)

Emphasis added by me.

This is the first I’ve heard of hp actively developing an eBook reader.

They’ve shown off a prototype previously:

But that looked so absolutely screwy — screwier than Kindle Mark I — that no one took the effort seriously.

Today I must add that given the Gesture Area on the Palm Pre, the touchstrip interface no longer looks so screwy — and that makes the last ten seconds of this next video a must-see:

hp has also been gung-ho developing flexible displays. They have a video all about that.

Plus, earlier this year hp announced a color flexible display prototype. And while reports indicate it’s several years away from commercialization, color isn’t needed right now for ebooks, so perhaps the monochrome version shown below — impressively resisting abuse — can be used:

What’s also interesting is that hp never released a tablet UMPC. Everyone thought they’d be a natural entrant, but they passed. They did, however, enter the netbook fray with impressive models.

What’s interesting about that is the ten-inch screen. That’s the screen size for the rumored Apple tablet. Whenever I’ve looked at the hp mini in person, I always try to picture it without its keyboard, as a tablet.

And a touchscreen tablet is something hp could do. They have incorporated touch into their TouchSmart line of desktop and notebook PCs. How difficult would it be to graft that onto a ten-inch screen tablet?

An hp eBook reader brings up a whole series of issues:

1) What retailers would carry it?
2) What eBooks could it display?
3) How could eBooks be bought?

Could hp’s eBook reader find its way into the world with a Barnes & Noble branding? With eReader software and ePub support built in? And Fictionwise/eReader as the eBookstore all ready to go?

One other thing I must note about hp’s touchstrip UI idea: it sidesteps the clarity and contrast issues of the Sony Reader 700, which simply placed a touchscreen over its eInk didplay.

Dying Dinosaurs Of Print Dying Faster

May 26, 2009

Amazon’s next revolution

Running on Sprint Nextel’s high-speed data network, Kindle bridges the gap between the perpetual connectivity of a mobile phone and the sporadic connectivity – but superior form factor – of a laptop. There’s no need to plug into a computer, the battery will last two weeks, and there are no connection fees. And buying a book is a snap. Freed considered slower connections, like a pager network or 2G, but ultimately determined that 60-second downloads would spur impulse purchases. See an interesting author speak on The Daily Show? You can start reading the book before the interview’s over.

The plan has worked like a charm. For titles where a traditional paper and an electronic Kindle version are available, 35% of sales already come from downloads, Amazon says. That suggests not only that Kindle owners love their devices, but also that they’re buying impetuously. And the wireless connectivity, which Amazon provides free to Kindle owners, has helped Amazon blaze ahead of its main competitor, Sony’s Reader, which requires users to connect to a computer, la the iPod, to download books.

Emphasis added by me.

Impulse purchases. Impulse pricing.

What part of these two things are difficult to understand?

Here is the beginning of the death knell for traditional print publishing:

Two dollars! Two!

And that’s six-hundred and ninety pages!

All of you dying print publishers, I’ve got news for you. Your mandate has never been to cater to an elite. Reading is supposed to be for the masses.

Keep your prices stupidly high and you’ll continue to your stupid demise.

John Sayles: 20th-Century Crybaby?

May 26, 2009

John Sayles, novelist, seeks a binding agreement

John Sayles, Oscar-nominated creator of “Return of the Secaucus 7,” “Lone Star,” “Matewan” and other movies, is having trouble getting a book deal.

The situation is almost entirely traceable to the publishing industry’s economic woes, and it’s raising eyebrows, because Sayles was an accomplished fiction writer long before he made his first film. Weighing in at a whopping 1,000 typed pages, “Some Time in the Sun” is his first novel since 1990’s “Los Gusanos.”

“This is really astonishing,” says Ron Hogan, senior editor of Galleycat.com, a website devoted to publishing news. “I mean, this is John Sayles! You’d think there would be some editor who’d be proud to say, ‘I brought the new John Sayles novel to this house.'”

Raise your hands, all of you who have read a John Sayles novel.

Cue the crickets.

OK, I thought so.

See, Sayles, there’s this thing now called the Internet. And these other things called eBooks.

You, John Sayles, have the stature, visibility, and savvy to help push the needle away from the dying dinosaurs of print towards the eBook future:

What needs to happen:

ONE eBook gains a Word of Mouth (WOM) reputation
(Note: there are over 16 million eBook devices now [iPhone/Touch])
– genuine word of mouth or PR-assisted?
— PR-assisted cannot move something that’s shit
— only genuine WOM matters
— WOM moved The Fountainhead in 1940s

Unknown contributing(?) factor: Blog Book Tours

An eBook with WOM cachet and must-read-ness that’s available only as an eBook (in a format that cannot be printed out) could help push the needle from print books to eBooks

WOM must be of such scale to achieve Internet escape velocity
– must enter mainstream culture, not be confined to Internet Culture

If you believe in your book, put up or shut up.

Help move that needle, Sayles, and stop feeling sorry for yourself.

No one out here is feeling sorry for you.

Thunder Here On Thursday!

May 25, 2009

On Thursday, I’ll be scramming from here for the day as writer Anthony Neil Smith‘s crew takes over to have their way with my blog.

All in a good cause — to promote Smith’s new novel, Hogdoggin’!

This is the next book to follow the characters introduced in Yellow Medicine, which I posted about here.

Be here Thursday — or there might not be a blog left for Friday!!

The Long Tail Of Value

May 21, 2009

A certain poobah of Twitter was touting his book today and I was reading some of the tweets relating this event.

One of them caught my eye:

This is so obvious a concept that I was somewhat startled to see it explained.

Here it is another way:

A convict from Darlington, England, was released from jail after serving three years for embezzlement.

One day, he happened to pass Mayor John Morel on the streets. Embarrassed and completely withdrawn, this convict pretended not to see the Mayor and walked past him. But he suddenly felt the Mayor holding his hands and turned around instantly to hear the Mayor say, in a cheery tone, “Hello! I am so glad to see you! How are you?” The man appeared ill at ease and the discussion stopped then and there.

Years later, according to the story told by J.H. Jowett, Morel accidentally met the same man in another town. This time the young man stopped the Mayor himself and said, “I want to thank you for what you did for me when I came out of prison.” “What did I do?” asked the Mayor, surprised. “You spoke a kind word to me and it changed my life,” replied the the grateful man.

The above is a paraphrase from a Robert H. Schuller book, Believe in the God Who Believes in You (Google Book Search link).

This is what I call the Long Tail of Value.

American business is FAILing left and right because it’s based on squeezing the juice out of every single penny (which is actually a load of crap; those of you who decry wasteful government have no idea of how wasteful business is!).

This is the very antithesis of life itself, which is based on chance, serendipity, synchronicity, coincidence, and the longest possible perspective.

When the Mayor offered his greeting, was he thinking of its ROI? Did he do a calculation to see what was in it for him?

Perhaps this is why businesspeople — so-called — can’t “figure out” how to use Twitter.

They’ve forgotten how to be human beings.

Publishers Vs. Writers: Writers Will Win

May 21, 2009

HighTalking: Novelist Jon F. Merz on How Social Media is Changing Publishing (Part 1)

Nowadays, people don’t want to go through the traditional publishing hoops of querying agents and editors. They don’t want to wait. They want their stories and articles out there fast. So, instead of even putting a piece of paper into a typewriter, they simply click open MS Word, write their masterpiece, and the save the file as HTML. Uploaded to the site, it’s instant gratification.

Publishing’s response to this has been something along the lines of, “Yes, but we’re the gatekeepers of quality. We *know* what the consumers want.” Bull puckey. That argument might have once held water, but no longer.

I’ll use myself as an example: my novel PARALLAX is a thriller with Science Fiction/Psychic elements. In trying to get the book sold, all the editors who read it, loved it. But because publishing thinks in terms of labels and how to slot books into those labels, the fact that Parallax blurred the lines a bit meant they couldn’t sell it to the committee and the book never got picked up.

Fast forward a few years and I’m tired of having a novel sitting on my hard drive not earning me any money, so I put it out as an ebook. Lo and behold, reader response has been fantastic. So while publishing might *think* they know what consumers want, that isn’t always the case. And Parallax proves that a well-written book will always find a home with an audience if given the chance.

As far as the quality goes, there is certainly plenty of crap out there. People are impatient and they want to believe that their stuff is gold right out of the gate. So, sure, there is a lot of junk. But there are also some really great writers out there making a decent living from self-publishing their own material. If traditional publishers were smarter, they would take advantage of these ready-made audiences and then look to break that author out into a larger market share.

Emphasis added by me.

There are also some very interesting thoughts in part two.