"In these pages many mysteries are hinted at.
What if you come to understand one of them?"

"Words let water from an unseen, infinite ocean
Come into this place as energy for the dying and even the dead."

"Bored onlookers, but with such Light in our eyes!
As we read this book, the jewel-lights intensify."

- Rumi

Friday, December 7, 2012

This will be my last post on this blog.

I've got a shiny new website over at http://www.mtoddgallowglas.com.

I'm in the process of moving all the content here over there, with a bunch of new content as well. I hope you'll join me in my new home.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Daily Rant - You Do Realize It's the Internet Don't You?

It's that time again! Facebook had made some changes to it's ToS, and so people have started posting what they believe is copyright protection on their Timelines. I've seen about half-a-dozen of these over the weekend. Let me put this in plain terms:


Need proof:

I could find a few more articles on the subject, but I think that will do. You either get the point, or yo don't. If you don't, well, that's it's own special kind of delusional.

So now that the public service announcement portion of this blog post is done, allow me to get to the rant portion of this morning's program.

You people do realize this is the internet. You do realize that nothing you put up here is really truly safe? If you want to keep it completely yours, don't put it on the internet. What gets posted to teh interwebz stays on teh interwebz 4evAAARRRR!!!!

Well, maybe not literally, but it's safer just to assume that. Assume that it can (and probably will) get out someday. Don't believe me? Ask a certain general about some emails he traded with some chick? And those are private emails. Several high-profile celebrities and corporations have made some serious social media plunders this year, and despite taking those tweets and Facebook posts down, they still exist on the internet to plague the companies. Get some of the best here:

So the whole point is: if you don't want whatever it is you think you're protecting to get out there: DON'T POST IT ON THE GORRAM INTERNET! Just don't. That simple. Once it's up there, assume that it's up there for good and that anyone and everyone has a shot at taking it and using it for their own nefarious purposes. Hell, I'm a writer who makes most of his income via eBook sales. Yeah, I'm pretty sure there are some pirated copies of my books out there - not a lot, because I'm not that big yet, but they're out there. I even know for a fact that some people I know have pirated copies of my work. (It's amazing what people talk about late at night at Renaissance Faires when they're drunk and don't know who is standing behind them in the dark.) Am I pissed? Yes! Is that going to make me not do business on the internet any more? No. I'm not stranger to people stealing my work, as I recounted in my previous post: "Burning in Hell and Other Well Wishes." In essence, putting something out in public means you run the risk of having it stolen. If you don't want it stolen, don't put it out there. Plain. Simple. Straight forward.

Also: Read the Terms of Service. No amount of posts or arguing after the fact (short of a class action legal victory) is going to protect you once you agree to Facebook's, Twitter's, Amazon's, or anyone else's ToS and UELA. So, yeah, read what you're agreeing to. Plain. Simple. Straight forward.

Realizing these two simple things: the internet is not safe and you should read the fine print (Gasp! What concept!) will save you a lot of heartache later.


Friday, November 23, 2012

In Defense of Kindle (and other eReaders)

Talk to any group of voracious readers, and eventually the topic of electronic reading devices is going to come up. Several times at science fiction conventions and Renaissance Faires I've been involved in some discussions and arguments that have made me think, Can we please talk about something less volatile, like the 2012 Presidential Campaign. Yeah, people can get pretty heated, and in most cases, it's the people who believe that eReaders are the most recent blasphemy sent to earth by whichever embodiment of evil their spiritual path happens to believe in.

Even legendary science fiction author, Ray Bradbury had this to say when asked about Kindle and other eReaders: "Those aren't books."

Ouch. Really ouch.

Ray Bradbury was one of my early writing heroes. And while I don't hold him on the same pedestal I used to, I still respect him as a pioneer of genre fiction and as a brilliant writer. This particular quote hurt me a bit, as I make a decent part of my living selling eBooks for the Amazon Kindle. To have one of the greats tell me that they aren't real books hurt a lot.

Then, later that same week, I had a parent-teacher conference with the teacher of my eleven-year-old son. For those of you who follow my Twitter stream, Mathew has been the source of #TenYearOldWisdome and #ElevenYearOldWisdom. The teacher showed us an argumentative essay Mathew had to write for class. The title is "Kindles at School."

For those of you who can't quite make out the image, allow me to transcribe it. (To maintain the authenticity, I have transcribed the paragraph without edits.)

Kindles at School
I think that they should let Kindle at school! Don't you? Just think of it we can just download books right After we finish one! Also we could get a lot smarter! And then we'll get good grades! Good grade means good caleges! SO Who's with me!!!!?

So, there you have it. A child's reasoning for why we should let Kindles in school. I won't go into how many times he's downloaded a book without permission, but it's hard to get really mad at him for just wanting to read.

Mathew loves to read. He loves to read physical, old-school books. He loves to read on his mother's Kindle Fire. He wears the battery down more than she does.

This to me settles the argument. Why do we have to worry about which is better? Why do we have to worry about the whole eReader thing all together. People are reading. More importantly, kids are reading and loving it. If technology can provide a means by which we can encourage our youth to love books and stories again, we shouldn't be discussing whether or not it's "legitimate" or "wrong" or anything else. We should be discussing how we get these things (Especially Kindles) in the hand of more young readers. Why Kindles specifically? Because even if readers don't have the money to buy new books, or time to get to a library safely, they can always get books for their Kindles. Not counting classic books which are always, I repeat ALWAYS, free, there are on average 3,000 books being offered for free per day, across all book lists. No muss, no fuss, easily downloadable with the click of a button over Amazon's Whispernet.

This is really the reason I support the eBook revolution. Yeah, I may be living the dream of being a professional writer, but that's secondary to my kid coming up to his mother or myself, holding out the Kindle Fire as if it was some sacred relic, and asked, "I just finished my book. Can I get the next one?"

Monday, November 19, 2012

Daily Rant - Book Catagories

I was just checking out some stuff on Facebook and I saw a post by GalleyCat about "New Adult Fiction." I've provided a link, because I don't really want to go into an explanation on this new marketing category. Skim it over. That's all you need to grasp the concept of this "New Adult" fiction.


I mean...REALLY?

Must we really break everything down into the smallest possible marketing bracket we can possibly conceive of?

Yeah, I get it... Thanks to the eBook and self-publishing revolution, we've got more books being published than ever before, but do we really need to have an entire marketing niche targeted at  twentysomethings? 

I can sort of understand differentiating between Young Adult and Middle Grade. The maturity level of those two groups of readers is a little different.... Now that I think about it, shouldn't this "New Adult" catagory really be Young Adult and today's current "Young Adult" should probably be called Teen? Let's face it, today's YA market is really focused at teenagers, who aren't really young adults, because they are NOT adults...BUT of course we CAN'T call them teen readers or anything like that, because, god forbid we remind that particular demographic that they are still legally children...oh no... not that...must spare their feeleings and empower them...blah...blah...

Okay. I need to stop on that particular rant or I'm going to throw my laptop across the Starbucks.

Onto "New Adult" readers. This classification pisses me off even more than "Young Adult."

"Hey Gallowglas," you might be saying, "why are you so worked up about this? It's just about where to put books on the shelves or organize them on Amazon."

Only, it's not. Not really. As business and marketing always does, it conforms to reflect the attitudes of society in order to reach people and make as much money as possible. This is kind of indicative of a how we, as a society and culture view the transition from adolescence into adult hood. Allow me to explain this by looking at this "New Adult" thing in one of two ways:

First, it can be take like this: as a teen, you were a young adult, and now that you survived high school, and likely some college, you've managed to claw your way into a job, you don't get to be a full adult yet. You're a new adult. You've gotta earn your stripes and pay your dues before we consider you responsible and intelligent enough to be a real adult. Come talk to us when you're thirty.

On the other side of that coin, we could look at it like this: No, you don't have step up and be a responsible adult, because let's face it, you're just a new adult. We'll give you all the time you need to figure this "adult" thing out, don't stress on stepping up and pulling your weight in this social experiment we call a society, because you're new, everyone should get a decade of slack. Once you reach thirty, we'll talk to you again and see how you feel about things.

So, yeah. Not a fan of the further breakdown of literary categories and what that's saying about our society. Where should we place books like, Catcher in the Rye, The Hobbit, the first three Harry Potter books as apposed to the last three Harry Potter books (the fourth being this really weird bridge between the styles of the early and later books), and I could go on but you get the point.

I think the biggest thing that bugs me about this is that we're readers. Most of who read books are pretty bright people. (Readers of Twilight, Fifty Shades of Gray, and Dan Brown aside.) For the better part of the Twentieth Century, we were pretty adept at navigating books stores and libraries to find stuff to read. Really, we did. In a lot of ways this constant redefining of book categories makes it harder to find stuff, because it pigeon-holes so many books that someone might be interested in reading into categories that might very well turn that particular reader off. For example, I'm pretty sure I've missed out on some terrific reads because I don't really delve into this whole YA thing. I'm sure the same will be true of books in the "New Adult" market.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is: Publishing industry! We're adults and smart enough to find books we like to read on our own. In fact, that's part of the fun of being a voracious reader. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. 
K thnx buh by.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

All Empty - Channeled Optimism

Anyone who knows me as only an acquaintance from one of my various might be surprised to to find out I consider myself an optimist. Heck even some of the people who know me only from my online presence might agree with them. I generally present myself as sarcastic, skeptical, and with zero tolerance for suffering fools. Okay...so I'll admit, that's not really a "presentation" as much as it is who I really am. I'm also curmudgeonly, brash, abrasive, and if truth be told, having a zero tolerance for suffering fools is like saying old-school Star Wars thought Jar Jar Binks was a little silly.

So where does the optimism come in?

We'll, it's in that part of me that writes and seeks to write on a professional level to the point where my family is not only comfortable, but that my income will be such that my kids don't have to touch a dime of student loans for their higher education. See, I don't just want this; it's not some passing fancy; I BELIEVE with the firmest conviction that this will come to pass. That is optimism in the truest sense of the word.

The world of publishing does not look kindly on fiction writers. It is a Darwinian jungle where survival of the fittest doesn't even come close to being an accurate description. The food chain out there in publishing land is a constantly changing food chain where yesterday's apex predictor is today's carrion for the hyenas and vultures. And that's just if you're looking at traditional publishing. I'm one of those naive, starry-eyed  dreamers who dove into the sea serpent infested waters of the Indie book revolution. Being a part of that world is a wake up call to the nature of publishing.

Because I'm my own publisher, I can log into my profile in Amazon's KDP, or Kindle Direct Publishing, any time I want and check my sales numbers. (Yeah, so I do it a lot...like really a lot...chain smokers got nothing on me...but that's a blog post for another day...) So, I can see just how much I am...or more to the point...am not selling at any moment. Yeah, that's a kick in the teeth...over, and over, and over again. Those numbers don't care about how I feel. They just stare back at me, giving me an up-to-the-moment dose of harsh reality.

And yet I keep plugging away, promoting myself, tweet by tweet, blog post by blog post, struggling to keep up with market changes, all while figuring out how to scrape together some time to get that next book written. Everyday the world reminds me why it is that so many writers, especially Indie writers, don't make it. On the lucky days, I'm just getting my teeth kicked in. Sometimes, it's just a swift ball-peen hammer to the groin. 

Here's a sobering statistic: Last year about this time, the average eBook sold four copies a month. I'm sure it's much lower than that now. That number was taking into account writers like J.K. Rowling, George RR Martin, Neil Gaiman, and even breakout Indie writers such as John Locke and Amanda Hawking. Think of all copies of A Dance with Dragons George RR Martin sells per month to maintain a foothold in the top 100 books sold in the Kindle store...and that's just one book. Now, think of all the books that don't sell any thing for the average to be four.

Yeah, that's a sobering thought.

And still, I persevere. I keep going. Failure is not an option. To succeed in this game, you can't be a half-empty kind of person. Hell, you can't even be a half-full kind of person. You need to be the kind of person who takes a look at that glass that has 50% of its volume containing liquid and 50% of its volume containing air, take a good long look at it, then grab that glass, power slam however much that 50% of it that's liquid is, slam that glass down on the bar top, look that bartender right in the eye, and say, "The glass is all empty! Give me another, only make it a double."