Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Weekend Getaway

When a dachshund, placed in a racing shoot, and encouraged to run across the field when said shoot opens, most don't quite understand what they are supposed to do. They wander about, with a dazed look on their faces, happy to see all the people and other dogs. Some have been training for this day, and they shoot across the field. loping like nimble gazelle, except with tiny, tiny legs. For most racing dachshunds, finishing the race is quite enough of a challenge that attempting to achieve speed is too difficult. Confused by the crowd, and desiring to meet all the people, even fast dachshunds might try to run around the sides, and say hello to all the people and fellow dachshunds.

A band was playing. Dogs barked among the rows of festival tents.

We walked downtown, and visited some of the shops, and I learned what "antiquing" was, and found it to be a strange, and dull sport, and not as much fun as dachshund races, but there were some really nifty old books in one of the shops, with the sort of illustrations that were only made before the second world war.

Small town festivals are a hoot. So are large groups of dachshunds.

Wear closed-toe shoes.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pick a corner of the world...

The Golden Horde was a powerful political body that ruled in the Ukraine, taking over from the kings that came before. They were the Western edge of the Mongolian empire, and re-organized the native Varyngian people there to their liking. For two hundred years, they ruled. Even after their empire began to crumble, and they were merely the Great Horde, they ruled. The Polish and Lithuanian kings pushed back in a deluge that lasted decades, to drive away the Tartarian warlords that nibbled at the edge of their nations.

Before the Golden Horde, was another ruler, and another empire. Before that, they were Byantium, and the Varyngian guards were sworn to the emperor, and feared.

Pick any corner of this planet, and there is the ebb and flow of nations and kings. Before the white men came here, where I live now, the Caddo lived in fear of the Comanche, who were newcomers, just as the Caddo had driven their own former masters south, into Northern Mexico. The Karankawa Indians clung to the coast line, at the edges of rivers, making casseroles out of native bell peppers and the human arms of their enemies. Pick anywhere, at all. The ebb and flow of history drives new kings and pulls them down.

Every time I pass the history section of the store, I wonder if I could just pick one corner of the world, and go back into the dark shadows of the past, when history was being born, and learn everything I could through time, and write everything I could from that knowledge. But, there's just too many fascinating corners. There's so much history in history. There's so much striving and inspiring and amazing.

When I pass on from this life, I hope there is a well where my soul can drink that contains inside of it the knowledge of history - all history. I could spend an eternity at the pool, reinventing the past through my own imagination.

There was a nation once - a powerful and fearsome nation - that was called the Golden Horde. Poland and Lithuania together beat it down into the dust of time.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I've been reading heavy, long books. I've been slowly burning through them.

Watching movies from the library, we keep it light, mostly.

Here's one I saw recently, that I thought was worth everyone's time.

A mumblecore musical, or something like it. But, a guy who made a movie because he loves movies, and used his friends and the people around him in Boston to do it, and it's better than movies I've seen with big budgets and shiny effects. It's a joy and a treat, and magical.

You can really feel when art is made because people love to make it versus rote, capitalist pandering. ("New Adult" indeed.)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Never Settle

I've been reading about planting an avocado tree because I am about to do so. They get pretty big - up over 25 feet and more - and they stay sort of columnar-ish half as wide as they are tall. some Mexican varieties are cold-hardy down to the low teens, unlike the delicate Guatamalan Haas. They are not salt-tolerant, though, and where I live there is nothing but salt in the soil from the centuries long ago when this was all an ocean. I will have to build a mound up, with cactus soil, and mulch over it for aesthetics. I will build an island in the front yard where the tree may grow, up above the ground. I will be placing the tree in a burlap sack, and I will cut holes the sack, and use this to let the tree ease into the ground we have.

There are only two others in my neighborhood who seem to share my passion for fruit trees. People aren't willing to work for fruit trees. They aren't willing to spray the peaches, or learn how to prune. They don't want to bother with harvesting, processing, and all that stuff.

Also, we don't live like we used to, back when land was passed down to eldest sons. We don't think of our houses as permanent things, where we will live with out families for ten-thousand years. That's how it used to be, on this earth. You stayed where you were, and planted where you were, and cultivated where you were. Some fruit trees take so long to fruit, that people who plant the seeds might not live to see the fruit. A pear tree, bought at your local nursery, has been alive for years, and will take years when you transplant it to produce a single fruit.

We move around, then. We sell our houses and move where there's work. We think of our houses as an investment we will one day cash out. We do not ever think our children will live in this house, and their children's children, and so on.

Driving around my neighborhood, I see that in the landscape. Plants are ornaments, only. HOAs demand ornaments, property value maintenance, grass, certain kinds of high-value ornamental trees. What a strange way to live, when you think about the rest of human history before our own time. You are required to maintain the value of your home, so that everyone in the neighborhood can get a good price when the land is sold to the next itinerant resident.

Everyone's just slowly, slowly passing through to the next place. We are such a restless people, we Americans.

I plant fruit trees knowing I may never see the fruit. A job offer might come through, and I might have to go. My wife and I have discussed where we want to live next, and where we want to go next. But, I plant fruit trees because this is the right way to live: to treat everyone who comes to this house after us as our heirs, our good friends, our deserving followers. I plant fruit trees because the abundance we have now, in our stores, cannot possibly last when the price the earth pays is so very high. I mapped out a year of fruit harvests. I plotted and schemed to always have something coming in to harvest and devour.

This week, I will plant an avocado tree in the front yard. It will grow tall, and undoubtedly my neighbors will sneak up to the thing to snag an avocado from time to time, despite my objections. They will go home and may even wish that whoever lived in their house before them had bothered to plant one of the trees. We will, all of us, move on to our next houses, where we live for ten years and think it an eternity to stay in one place for so long, to really settle in. It's not settling in, though. It's just slowly passing through, like Minecrafters who eventually get sick of their plane of creation, and wipe things clean and new, build a new world for ourselves. Move on to the next house. Move on until we are not moving on to the next house, but rather moving on to the nursing home, and to the houses beyond the walls of time. Never build a home for a thousand years. Never grow an empire in a single neighborhood, buying up houses as they go empty, and planting descendants inside of them. Never carve a new world out of the high plains, where generations can watch the nations rise and fall.

Never settle. Move on from here. Maintain your house that you can protect the value of it, and sell it in ten years, to build your dream house somewhere else, and the next dream house after that one.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hurry Up and Wait

There was lots of talk the last week or so about things and stuff. All we can do is wait, now.

Now, all we can do is wait.

I mailed off some contracts on stories and stuff. I wait.

Hurry up and wait. That's the job. I keep working. Schedule to keep up, and whatnot. Grab a cup of the brown stuff the shade of an acorn, and don't stop working until the moon comes out and stars. All in all, another splendid day on the job.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Some days all you can do is brew something fun and maybe bottle it later...

This has been a long couple weeks, folks. Lift a cold one for me, out there, wherever you are.

Stay frosty out there, people! Don't give up for a goddamn anything!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Herodotus' Alternate History

Every night, for weeks, I've been reading Herodotus before falling asleep. It is fascinating, and it also acts like a magic sleeping pill. The kings of the past would not be out of place among the presidents of the modern day. I find fascinating, in particular, how rarely history talks about the food of the armies.There is the floods of Egypt (I am currently reading about an Egyptian king named Aramis, or something like Aramis.. I don't remember his name.) and the productive soil such floods provide. There is the arrangement of land. But, the nobility and the warrior class are the ones who cut a path across such books as these.

Imagine what would happen if such men as Herodotus praised not the kings, but the shepherds and farmers and mothers. If all these great moments in history were not such trivial matters as which violent nobleman squats upon a throne and for how long, and instead questioned the way farmers grew and prepared food in all the kingdoms of the world,and the way mothers raised children. Glorify not the warmongers, but the grandmothers who keep the household gods, Herodotus. Build a society upon these histories. Western Civilization that is founded upon the books of the home and hearth, the farm and field. Scoff upon the men who would cut down the sons like hard winter wheat. Curse them, Herodotus, Thucydides, and Homer.

Imagine the epic poem of just Penelope,managing the lands to feed the guests that groan upon her paving stones, driving back the battle-hardened,braggart men, fistfighting in her lawn, and how could she raise a son like that, with all those awful,noisy men in her courtyard? History of kings and warlords is skimming the smoke of discerning a history of the civilization from the smoke trails of faded clouds.

Herodotus, tell me not of the harem intrigue, and tell me not of the palaces and kings. The ceremonies of state religions tell me nothing about the little gods that watch over the faithful hearth. Herodotus, I wish you had glorified the home and hearth, and the men who hid their cattle, hid their daughters, and served their land, sending no sons to war for foreign kings and glory, staying where they were and being honest and building a future in every little decision and deed upon their ancestral ground.

Picture the world constructed from a peaceful myth of origin. Picture the nations that result who do not glorify in war of Ares or Roman Mars, but only glorify the Pallas Athena, protectress of cities. Glorify the good farmer, the honest wife, the skills of the smiths, and the good life that comes from hard work, peace, and building always for the next generation.

Dream of this when you sleep, as I do, after reading Herodotus.

All our generations of scholars and kings, for 1000 years studied Greek and Latin, and filled their imaginations with such wars and such petty, miserable would-be godkings... What an example they made, those Greek and Roman historians, for how great men should behave. What a horrible example of how to be a great man, by the edge of a sword and the deceit of politicians, and the destruction and subjugation of empires and religions and making others eat their own dead.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Night Shade/Skyhorse/Start Redux

At this time, I haven't signed the deal. I'm waiting on details from one more person before I make my decision.

I think it is a good sign that so many originally unhappy people, like Michael Stackpole, have been won over where it matters: the contract terms. Skyhorse/Start didn't come to the table to be cruel or unusual. In fact, the boilerplate we saw initially would not be out of place at a major publishing house. What is unusual is that  they acted in good faith to amend the deal presented, and alter the contract terms for everyone.

Regardless of whether I sign or not, I feel very positively about Skyhorse/Start and their future in SF/F. Pleasing authors goes a long way towards a bright future in genre. Their good faith actions to adjust their contract terms have proven they are serious about this deal, and are trying to do more good than harm. No one can blame a business for trying to make a profit in a difficult climate, like print publishing, but the escalators indicate that maybe authors can also look forward to a piece of the action once that initial payment to clear Night Shade's copious debts clears into the black.

There's one thing I'd still like, and I'm waffling because of it. It is such a small detail that it doesn't merit mentioning. Also, I haven't heard back from my own legal counsel on the contract, and anytime bankruptcy is rearing a stink, it's time to get legal advice from someone, even if you're trying to prevent bankruptcy.

Everyone's situation is different, and I don't think anyone should feel pressure to take the deal, either way, and I know I'm still researching the complexity of my own situation. This is actually not as simple as "deal/no deal" because what is best for each individual author depends on a lot of different, totally personal, circumstances.

Regardless, if you would like to influence my future as an author in a positive direction, pick up a couple of these bad boys, and share them with your friends, because as I mentioned yesterday, this book had a rough time getting born, and may not be long for this world regardless of the outcome of the pending asset transfer:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Just to make clear what I mean when I say Night Shade seemed hell bent on ending my career...

So, Borders collapsed in September of 2011. Before then, my sales was something like 10-40 a week. Not spectacular, but not the end of your career, as long as it's better than the first novel and shows some growth, which it seemed to do considering my first publisher, back in 2008, was dead within three or four months. This also was not counting the eBooks of which we moved quite a very many, indeed. This was all before the release of WHEN WE WERE EXECUTIONERS, and before Borders collapsed.

Borders' collapse did have a huge impact on me, personally. It really might have been the end of my career as a writer of fantasy under the nomduhploom J. M. McDermott. It had this effect on my career because my most prominent title was with someone in too deep with Borders books. I had a feeling at the time, honestly, that it was going to be bad for me, and a lot of others midlisters might be going down with the ship with publishers who were going to get a lot of discounted copies and returns. People around me at ArmadilloCon in 2011 might remember me, then, thinking about the end of careers a lot. I was reaching out into the indie world, experimenting and getting ready, at the time, for whatever came next. Books don't last long on shelves, under the best of circumstances, so there's only a short window of time to make an impression before the world moves on. The world moved on, and surprisingly, so did Night Shade from Diamond distribution right when I had another book coming out that was scheduled to get lost in the transition.

I have never even seen evidence that WHEN WE WERE EXECUTIONERS was in a book catalog, at all. I have never seen evidence that librarians knew it existed. I have only seen evidence that 2 reviewers got a copy that didn't come from me, directly. I have never seen one on a physical shelf, not even at an indie bookstore.

I pulled up bookscan numbers on the 2nd Dogsland Book, when they crossed over distribution from Diamond to PGW and left me swinging with minimal support, a metric ton of promises, and nothing in the end:

Per Bookscan, that's 131 copies moved, total, of WHEN WE WERE EXECUTIONERS, for all time.

That's what the end of careers look like, folks.

Night Shade can't take all the credit, and it's too easy to blame a long-suffering scapegoat with the current news all over town. I wrote the damn things, right? Ultimately, the blame and the consequences lie with the author. They have to.

But, I guess my measuring stick on these issues is going to be self-publishing. If I have stronger self-publishing numbers on a harder-to-sell short story collection than a publisher does on a critically-acclaimed series, then that publisher is not helping me much. If the numbers are so low as to be astonishing that they claim to be a real publisher with distribution and stuff, well... You expect to lose people moving forward in a series, but the cliff here was suspiciously steep. It could be it's poorly written - always a risk - but I argue that John Clute and Jesse Bullington don't praise books in their reviews at Strange Horizons unless they're at least interesting. It's very hard for me to feel like the book quality is to blame. I suspect they weren't marketed correctly, and got sent to a lot of paranormal and urban fantasy reviewers who either got surprised and liked it, or didn't even finish it.

Honestly, people, I've moved more copies of the eBook of WOMEN AND MONSTERS with a micropress and a staff of 1 1/2 than Night Shade did, at all, total, of the 2nd Dogsland Book.

If you would like to continue reading books written by someone named J. M. McDermott, to make the whole lot of books easier to find in the future, perhaps even written in the fantasy genre, might I suggest that now would be a great time to pick up a copy of WHEN WE WERE EXECUTIONERS and share it with a friend? Pick up half a dozen and make a library donation or five. Hoard some under wraps somewhere, if you're so inclined, because I still haven't made up my mind about the current news. I don't think the Dogsland books will be long for the shelves, even if I cross over to Skyhorse, at these numbers. If I don't cross over, they'll have an even shorter lifespan.

Frankly, after this it will be some time before anyone picks up a new fantasy novel by me, even if I change my name, outside of the indie writing world, who are often disinterested in putting books on the shelf at Barnes & Noble.

Fortunately, the indie world - and I mean real, independent publishers here, not whatever they're calling self-publishing these days - is the one area where I'm seeing huge growth in the weeks and months to come. Honestly, I made a list of my top publishers to work with, on current and future projects, and Big 5 imprints weren't on that list. Distribution and marketing are getting very flat, these days, and people with talent and small, agile teams, absolutely can compete on a big scale, and find "real publishing" numbers.

Still, I do urge you to snag a few copies of WHEN WE WERE EXECUTIONERS while you can. No matter which way the news happens, this is a book not long for the shelves. At 131 copies, total, what businessman in his right mind invests any company resources into it? What bookshelf will stock it for browsers? Heck, honestly, if it were with my micropress, I'd be very cautious about putting any weight behind something selling that poorly.

Do you want this book to be the second-to-last fantasy novel by J. M. McDermott? I'll keep writing, but if I change my pen's name, as I likely will have to, now, it will get harder to find my stuff without really paying attention.

It's 3:14 AM, and I can't sleep. I keep reading and feeling tired, then I can't sleep again and come back out here to read. It's 3:15 AM, now.

3:16. 3:17.

Soon, it might even get to dawn.

I'm sitting here, reading, and waiting and I don't know what happens next.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

in progress...

The short story that's out there, in the world, called "Rocket" was peeled off the backstory of what I'm working on, now.

It's still pretty roghshod, but it's starting to look like something.

Here's a piece that will change a dozen times before I'm done.


                The call that comes in the middle of the night, do I answer it?
I thought I was going to sleep, but I was restless - too much coffee in the afternoon. The phone rang and it was the long, slow hours after midnight. I didn’t know what to do. At first, I tried to ignore it. Maybe it would go away on its own. It didn’t. Then, I imagined who it could be calling me so late. Was it the sysadmin? Did the server melt at work, and it’s all hands on deck? But why would he call me about it? I was HelpDesk Support - practically entry level with no one under me. Was it a woman, drunk and calling me from some bar, looking for a ride home in a fake emergency – some cheap, disgusting seduction that I did not want and it had been so long that I couldn’t imagine what woman it might be.
The phone kept ringing. I was wide awake, staring at the ceiling. I should have answered it right away. It was a wrong number. I would answer it and then it would stop, and it would no longer ring.
I didn’t answer it, yet.
I don’t know anybody well enough to warrant an emergency call. My friends were all coworkers. I log-off the computer in the home office after work, and that’s it. I rarely leave the apartment, anymore. It was kind of sad when I thought about it like that, but this wasn’t the hour of the night when anyone’s allowed to lie to themself. I don’t have any real friends that call like this since my mother died. Honestly, I don’t want the call. I don’t want to be the one who receives the call so late at night – the emergency call – and the fact that I don’t want that responsibility is why I don’t have close friends like that. I’m staring at the ceiling, waiting for the voicemail to take the call.
Let it go to voicemail.
I’d ignore it until morning.
People shouldn’t call me like that, so late.
It’s almost at voicemail. If I was going to answer it, I was running out of time.
At least I should check the Caller ID. But, if I do that, I might as well answer the phone, because it will already be in my hands, and it’s probably important, if it isn’t a wrong number.
                Let the voicemail take it. The voicemail never sleeps, and never lies awake late into the night because of too much afternoon coffee.
                The phone is in my hands before it can get to voicemail. The Caller ID is an unknown number, somewhere from Manhattan. Wrong number, most likely. I answer it. My voice sounds like sandpaper.
                -I think you have the wrong number.
                -Marty is that you?
                -Marty, you have to come. They’re going to kill me.
                -Dad, are you drunk?
                -Marty, listen. I don’t want to die, Marty. You have to come up here and talk some sense into these assholes.
                -Dad, it’s, like, 3 AM.
                -They’re going to kill me, Marty! They’ve all decided! I need help! Goddamit, Marty, I don’t know what to do! I’ve never asked for anything from you before, and I’m shit scared!
                -Dad, try to calm down. It’s late. Call me tomorrow.
                -You’re hanging me out to dry! You’re just as bad as them and you’re my own flesh and blood!
                He slammed the phone receiver down on something three or four times, like he wanted to slap me through it.
                -Dad! Dad, stop shouting!
                He hung up on me.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Don't Panic

Three blog posts for one day, all linked together. 
Night Shade Night Shade Night Shade... I'll get to it. Don't Panic. 
Here are three things each worthy of their own blog post.


Before I get into the Nightshade/Skyhorse thing, I want to mention that I am sporadically releasing old short stories to the Kindle store, and maybe other places as I have time and see fit. WAR BEETLES, from the Journal of Unlikely Entomology #3 is currently up on the Kindle store for the price of some bargain breath mints, with wonderful cover art from Linda Saboe. Refresh brains, not breath!

Now... Onto today's long post about what's going down for me specifically, because I have been asked about this in private e-mail by readers, and I want to make sure everything's clear.


As far as publishers go, I seem to have killed two out of three of my publishers. Last Dragon went down with Discoveries. Now Dogsland will be impacted in some, unknowable fashion by this pending thing, but it does look like no matter what happens, Night Shade is not going to survive this. 

Apex is the winner, then. They stand upon the crushed skulls and corpses of other companies that have fallen, while attempting to carry my words into the world.

Apex wins the prize. Go Apex! Gold star!

#3: Night Shade is a Hot Mess... Don't Panic


Let's talk about this hypothetical Skyhorse/Night Shade thing, fair reader. I won't really go into the details of the deal thus far here, because others have gone into the details, perhaps with more emotion than necessary, and it is easy to find such things with a quick google search. Here's Tobias Buckell's super-summary round-up post. I think, thus far, there's been a lot of noise and not a little signal, and the blog-o-sphere is always such a hot place to have any rational discourse. But, here's what it means for you, fair reader. (Yes, you!)

Dogsland is impacted by this. 

So, the first two novels are currently "published" by Nightshade. I say "published" loosely. The second book was so poorly published, it was as if they wanted it to tank on purpose, slated during a crossover period of their distribution partners from one to another, with no publisher support that I could tell, and no placement in stores I could find, and little to no marketing efforts that I could notice. Was it even in their bloody catalog? I doubt it. I often wondered when it would appear at all in the iBookstore, where it just never seemed to show up for sale, and that's kind of a big, important eBook store. The first book, as well, had some front-end issues that I thought were insane for any rational, professional publisher to have, but those front-end issues pale in comparison to the launch issues with the second. Really, I came to the conclusion that Night Shade was trying to destroy my career forever. I wanted out if I could find a way that got me out without impacting the needs of my readers.

My agent and I wrote to them earlier this year and said we wouldn't be doing the third Dogsland book with them. I had only even considered them for #3 as long as I did, because I wanted what was best for my readers, and I needed an alternative that was actually better for my readers first. I found that alternative. I expect to see the rough cover next week, and I'm waiting the first round of editorial notes from my new publisher on #3.

This is a new publishing house, and one that doesn't have a public face, right this second. I don't think they're ready to go public, at this time, but it's a great match for the book, and part of the deal is that it keeps the team that did produce a beautiful book together - same cover artist (Julian Alday) and editor (Ross Lockhart) and author (because words). The things that worked, are still on board with #3, and it's slated for release in September 2013! Hooray!

Now, there's these strange and obtuse things from Skyhorse I could sign, but I have no strong reason to at this time, particularly with the deal they offered. The same new, nameless, non-public-facing publisher is ready to step in and take on Books 1 and 2, if we can secure a reversion of rights. Frankly, this new team would do an amazing job on them, too. Rights reversion wouldn't be difficult with all the issues we had that placed Night Shade in breach of contract, as long as bankruptcy judges don't get involved in the whole ordeal. I know a few lawyers, and I bet Nightshade authors wouldn't mind going in together on one in a pinch, if we had to. It's a mess, but a salvageable one for you, fair reader. 

It does mean that it is time to strip the DRM from all your Night Shade eBooks, because no one knows what will happen to them if the deal goes through or if the deal doesn't. GO STRIP THAT DRM IMMEDIATELY. Here's a link

As for me, I'm not against Skyhorse/Start, if they can come up with something resembling a reasonable contract. If Skyhorse wants to buy the first two books of the Dogsland trilogy, they're really going to have to do better than the contract I, and many others, got in our inboxes the other day. Skyhorse won't get to have #3, either. That's already gone to a new home, and will be out in September 2013.

So, fair reader, in case my ambivalence isn't clear: I'm owed no money. I have an alternative offer already for the whole trilogy, from the people who are already doing #3. I just don't have a strong reason to sign with Skyhorse/Start. They're going to need to give me a reason to sign with them that doesn't look like a scare tactic, frankly. Give me reasons about how good the terms are, and how much better you'll do, not about how much worse it's going to get if I don't surrender immediately and hand over all the IP right away before the bankruptcy thermal detonator explodes. (Or freezes it in carbonite? This metaphor doesn't work. Nevermind.) 

If I was a giving-up sort, I'd still be an administrative clerk, working and going to sleep and dreaming of nothing.

I've seen publishers fold before, and I've been involved in the mess, and the weird thing is, it doesn't destroy anyone's career if everyone keeps writing.

Dogsland #3 is not part of this mess, and will be out in September. We will find a way to get it out to you period, fair reader, even if the clumsy bankruptcy courts say I can't sell it. I'll do it under the table, if I have to, walking from town to town with POD copies in my rucksack, trading books for water and radish seeds and rides.  

For you, fair readers, my only other advice in this mess is for eBook readers to purchase eBooks from the Baen webstore where they are DRM-free, or find a way to strip the DRM from your current files. That's the whole total of the impact you will face during these interesting times. The rest is just the annoying business stuff that really ought not to be such a bother for you. Ultimately, you're the one, fair reader, we all wish to serve as painlessly and precisely as possible. Sorry about this mess spilling over into the public areas.

If you have Night Shade eBooks, by any author, go and strip the DRM now, while you still can!

All I have to do is keep writing.

My career is chugging along nicely in other ways. MAZE is coming in 2014 from Apex Books! I just sold a short story to 3-Lobed Burning Eye! I have another novel entirely out on submission to excellent publishers that is a steampunk novel not like any steampunk novel out there in the world! 

And, again: Now is the time to strip the DRM from your eBook files. GO! Again, a link explaining how.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Nothing to see here...

I'm about to brew a pot of coffee, open a computer file and get to work. It's Friday, a beautiful day, and I'm building hugulkultur beds in the back when I hit my word quota. 

It looks like piles of trash, back there, and i'm pretty sure my neighbors think I'm crazy. The dirt has to settle down a bit, and then get some more dirt, and let that settle, and then get some more dirt... In a week or two, it'll be lined with bricks, planted with vegetables and flowers, and it will look like something. Right now, it just looks like a weird pile in the back yard. There's sticks and dirt and cardboard and things. Next is more dirt, some bricks.

Keep piling it on. Everything that happens, at this point, is just more fertilizer.

I'm not worried about Nightshade's explosion. Either way is either way. Everything that happens, at this point, is just more fertilizer for the big, long career. It looks like kind of a mess right now, but we'll see what happens when the tomatoes bloom.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Herodotus Explains the Sack of Troy via Egypt

 Proteus (the pharoah of Egypt) began to ask Paris who he was and from whence he was voyaging; and he both recounted to him his descent and told him the name of his native land, and moreover related of his voyage, from whence he was sailing. After this Proteus asked him whence he had taken Helen; and when Paris went astray in his account and did not speak the truth, those who had become suppliants convicted him of falsehood, relating in full the whole tale of the wrong done. At length Proteus declared to them this sentence, saying, "Were it not that I count it a matter of great moment not to slay any of those strangers who being driven from their course by winds have come to my land hitherto, I should have taken vengeance on thee on behalf of the man of Hellas, seeing that thou, most base of men, having received from him hospitality, didst work against him a most impious deed. For thou didst go in to the wife of thine own host; and even this was not enough for thee, but thou didst stir her up with desire and hast gone away with her like a thief. Moreover not even this by itself was enough for thee, but thou art come hither with plunder taken from the house of thy host. Now therefore depart, seeing that I have counted it of great moment not to be a slayer of strangers. This woman indeed and the wealth which thou hast I will not allow thee to carry away, but I shall keep them safe for the Hellene who was thy host, until he come himself and desire to carry them off to his home; to thyself however and thy fellow-voyagers I proclaim that ye depart from your anchoring within three days and go from my land to some other; and if not, that ye will be dealt with as enemies."
Let us now leave Homer and the "Cyprian Epic"; but this I will say, namely that I asked the priests whether it is but an idle tale which the Hellenes tell of that which they say happened about Ilion; and they answered me thus, saying that they had their knowledge by inquiries from Menelaos himself. After the rape of Helen there came indeed, they said, to the Teucrian land a large army of Hellenes to help Menelaos; and when the army had come out of the ships to land and had pitched its camp there, they sent messengers to Ilion, with whom went also Menelaos himself; and when these entered within the wall they demanded back Helen and the wealth which Paris had stolen from Menelaos and had taken away; and moreover they demanded satisfaction for the wrongs done: and the Teucrians told the same tale then and afterwards, both with oath and without oath, namely that in deed and in truth they had not Helen nor the wealth for which demand was made, but that both were in Egypt; and that they could not justly be compelled to give satisfaction for that which Proteus the king of Egypt had. The Hellenes however thought that they were being mocked by them and besieged the city, until at last they took it; and when they had taken the wall and did not find Helen, but heard the same tale as before, then they believed the former tale and sent Menelaos himself to Proteus. 


Here is the question of justice, then. A whole empire comes to your doorstep, banging their shields with swords, burning your fields and howling that their brutal king has been wronged. Do you turn over a single woman to them, who wishes not to go but to remain with you?

I quite prefer the version of Homer. This is the glory of Troy: she came to the king for protection and he accepted her, and fought for her until nothing was left. How much better is that than a misunderstanding that seems as much an excuse to burn the wealthy city beyond just the pursuit of Helen? It was always an excuse, but were she in Egypt all along, what then?

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Fool's Day

Don't believe anything you read today. Not even this. 

How many creatures on this planet can imagine and enunciate something that is not true? Monkeys who can sign can probably imagine. Their play mimics being chased, being the alpha and the omega, being different. Dolphins probably, too. What else can imagine what isn't real? I doubt the birds in my yard have the mindspace for that. They don't seem to even believe that I will actually hurt them when I storm over to keep them off of my seed beds. Squirrels don't imagine, that I can tell. If they do, I have no evidence of it. Sharks don't seem to dream. They are hunting or they are dead. 

Dogs seem to, sometimes. I have seen them looking for someone who isn't there, puzzling out where that one might be. I have seen them puzzling through to a solution. When they sleep, their legs kick. When they look at their food dish, they want something different. They know where the food is.

Don't be fooled by the cats. They are like small, furred sharks. When they play, they are hunting. When they sleep, their souls walk the valleys of the shadows of death, pouncing upon the souls that come to the valley, devouring them. 

We are capable of imagining something that isn't there. Believe nothing you read today, as usual. Or, believe it all in a way, for all stories are true. On a large time scale, all that is possible becomes likely. On an infinite time scale, all that is possible becomes inevitable. Spring is the time of the flush of life and growth.The dreams that come on the day of fools and whimsy, they are part of that flush. We are imagining a woman pope, the poor raised up and the rich laid low, and wild, zany dreams. Cats wearing parachutes, life on Mars, etc. 

It's coming again. Everything's coming soon enough, but not too soon.