Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Addendum 2: What anti-Publishing Bias?

Let it be said that if an anti-publishing bias comes through in anything I've said, it is not because I have a bias against publishing. My bias is against the parts of publishing that do not act in a manner that is respectful of content creators and content consumers. This is not all of publishing. This might not be most of publishing. I know there are parts that are doing things that I don't like, and I am concerned by what I see.

Every contract negotiation is an adversarial one, even among best friends, and both parties are trying to do what they can to get the best possible deal. That doesn't mean a publisher is "bad" or "evil" or anything like that. It means they are a business.

Writers who do not educate themselves in the business of publishing will be unprepared when the business of publishing changes again. (Believe me, we've only seen the beginning of the changes to come in the digital revolution, and there are going to be some battles ahead.)

I know, for a fact, that I am also totally unconcerned with the question of whether the books in the narrowing marketplace are good or bad, at the moment, because they will be or they won't be depending on each individual book. I don't presume to judge whether a book at the formerly upper-midlist is "good" or not without reading it. What concerns me is that it will be harder to find places for books that used to be below that higher sales mark, many of which I loved to bits.

There will be blood in the months and years to come. Maybe even mine. Still, I don't believe for a minute that a post on the internet will impact my career much. If that were so, I know a few writers who wouldn't have careers. What I can gain from this post is the opportunity to invite people who know other things than I know to show up and speak out. I do this because I know the business climate is dramatically shifting, and if I don't stick my neck out to learn what I can, I won't be ready for those changes.

Make no mistake about this: Publishers and agents who are ethical are your best friend in the changing market. And publishers aren't going anywhere. And, I don't care how evil you think publishers might be, which they aren't, but they are a thousand times less terrifying than what Amazon could become, and publishers are our best hope to push against a functional monopoly of content formats and distribution. This is not really a question of what will happen to publishers. I hope to have killed that buzzing noise about the death of publishing or the death of New York publishing. It's not happening.

The questions are other things. What will happen to the interesting books that used to be the bottom of the midlist and now are not even on the list at all, and aren't even close to it? What will happen once writers who can financially afford to form their own publishing houses do it, on a large scale? Why does publicity seem to not work at all on eBooks, and what kind of publicity has proven to work?

(I disagree with Jeff VanderMeer about eBook publicity, by the way, but I take my info from Kristine Kathryn Rusch and her info lines up with stories I've heard of authors that discover their backlist titles sell really well for no apparent reason other than genre positioning.)

People are sensitive about stuff like this, because the change is happening very quickly and no one knows exactly what will shake out in the years to come.

Personally, I prefer to try and build the future I would like to see than to wait and see what happens without my influence, even if it leads to the end of my career. (Careers end all the time. Why not mine? I am not special or different from a thousand other quiet voices from centuries past.)

There are still many questions. I hope people stop by over at SFSignal to answer them, raise questions, raise hell, and in all ways discuss civilly what is happening, or has already happened, or what is not going to happen.

Thank you if you already have.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An Addendum to Something About to Go Live at SFSignal...

Right, so my big digital publishing post is about to go live at SFSignal, spaced out over two days. I don't consider myself an expert on the subject, but I do think that throwing my ideas out there will encourage people who are experts to chime in with their perspective.

One of the things I didn't touch upon, though, is something I saw at least six times in my Twitter feed yesterday that drives me absolutely up the wall.

Some people are calling this the eBook "Gold Rush" which is accurate inasmuch as the original gold rush led to very, very little actual gold for prospectors, who mostly died dirty and violent and drunk and shoved into each other in tents that were riddled with lice.

What we are seeing is a gold rush, in that the supply depots and grifters and tool providers will make a killing in this gold rush. Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes&Noble, etc., are going to make a million-billion dollars. We authors? No.

For us, it's more of a hopeful crawl than a gold rush. Income is slow, as always, and builds slowly, and word builds slowly, and there actually isn't very much money in it, but we're all very hopeful that we can STRIKE A BIG VEIN ANY DAY NOW!

Unless of course we are not hopeful for that big strike, and we prefer to continue doing what we do best: producing quality content that is worth a few dollars, and enough of it that people will provide us with enough money to keep us alive and off the government dole.


Right, so even though I'm still hammering out the details on the cover art with an awesome artist whose name you would recognize, I'm going to go ahead and post a link to the project that has come out, in case people stumble over here looking for it, and no one knows what the heck is going on about it:

check your favorite e-Retailer of eBooks for this one, folks, and/or hold your breath for a cover that isn't just one of two sketch placeholders.

I'm not officially "launching" this thing out right now, but it is out, and I guess it will launch "officially" in mid-October. (eBooks, and micropress books, benefit from a long, deliberate launch, I think...)

Full Version:

Discount Version With Just Two of the Stories as a Sampler/Teaser:

Also up at Barnes&Noble for Nook. And Smashwords (presumably their affiliates, too, eventually...)

As in all things eBook/MicroPress anything you can do to spread the word is helpful and appreciated. Also, as you're reading, if you come across any weird hiccups in formatting and spelling and whatnot, let me know. The manuscript was vetted by more than one editor on a story-by-story but that definitely doesn't mean a few ghosts haven't slipped through the package-ware. I've been clearing the chaff out, especially trying to get the formatting right on each device, but it's one of the reasons you want to do a soft launch of eBooks, so you have time to actually see them on a couple devices...

Anyway. Yeah. Not a gold rush for us, really, or only one in that the gold rush did not lead to very much gold for the prospectors back in the day.

I won't have time to update my website today, maybe not this week, but...

But... Moonlight Tuber #3 is live and in the world, including a story of mine.

Paul Jessup's Coffin Mouth is live, as well, with a story by me:

Also, as it will be outed in a few minutes by, I feel like I should mention this here, first, though I've been hinting at it for a couple weeks.

The cover isn't final (I'm hiring someone for that, and it's still in process), nor is absolutely all the layout and stuff final (I'm still tweaking it for each device), but the stories are there and any changes that happen, at this point, should be pretty minimal (except the cover):

Also up on Smashwords, Nook, if you care to look for it.

There's a discount sampler of the stuff, with just two of the stories, that are free on Smashwords, and 99cents on Kindle. Want to taste the stuff before deciding to buy the stuff? Got you covered: link.

If you like it, please tell people about it. Indie/Micro titles are always fighting to make themselves heard in this noisy world. Every little bit helps.

Have you read pieces of this in The Raleigh Review? In Coffin Mouth (linked above)? In The Journal of Unlikely Entomology? Have you said to yourself that you'd like to read a lot more of that sort of thing?

Well, there it is. It is a thing. It is in the world. Enjoy.

The world is changing. The book world is going through massive, huge, crazy, scary, amazing, wonderful changes. I go into some detail about that over at SFSignal, in two posts. The first of the two goes live in about half an hour. The second part goes live tomorrow.

There's also going to be an addendum to the two posts at SFSignal over here, in about half an hour, where I talk about this "eBook Gold Rush" that doesn't, actually exist...

Peace and Love,

J. M. McDermott

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hiring cover art for this thing that's in the world

It's showing up here and there as I send it out to reviewers.

The cover art isn't here, yet.

But, if you go out and look, you could find it.

The way eBooks work, I feel no need to do "One... Big... Launch..." which seems to work contrary to what eBooks actually do on the market, from what I can tell. It's a different animal. It's better to just do it one step at a time, and make sure every step is out in the open where one could, if one were so inclined, find it and help it along.

It's out there, but I won't tell you about it here until the cover art is in and done.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Awesome Book Club for Awesome Cool People Starts October 1st.

Simple rules.

1) I pick a book. It will be a book that I think looks interesting that I want to read. It will not be a thing that I have already read before, which defeats the purpose of this thing.

2) I will post on the 1st of the month about this book that we will be reading this month.

3) In the comments of that post, read along together. Post your thoughts, impressions, etc. Label spoilers so people can skip them if they wanna. Generally, I like the kind of books where knowing a spoiler doesn't change your reading experience much, so no worries about going crazy trying to avoid them.

4)I will pick interesting things that people say and edit them into the main post, so everyone can keep up with what is happening in the comments.

5) I will stop doing this for that post at the end of the month, when we begin the next book.

6) The next book will be announced at least two weeks before the next month begins, so we can all have time to locate a copy. I bet we're going to end up with some obscure things here and there, because what's the point of a book club dedicated to easy-to-find, easy-to-read stuff?

The book I have chosen for our book club, after consultation with some of y'all is this one:

EMBERS by Sandor Mari, translated by Carol Brown Janeway

From Publishers Weekly
Two very old men Konrad and Henrik, "the General" once the closest of friends, meet in 1940 in the fading splendor of the General's Hungarian castle, after being separated for 41 years, to ponder the events that divided them. This 1942 novel by a forgotten Hungarian novelist, rediscovered and lucidly and beautifully translated, is a brilliant and engrossing tapestry of friendship and betrayal, set against a backdrop of prewar splendor. In the flickering glow and shadow of candlelight, the General recalls the past with neither violence nor mawkish sentiment, but with restrained passion. The two met as boys, Henrik the confident scion of a wealthy, aristocratic family, and Konrad the sensitive son of an impoverished baron. Of their closeness, the General says, "the eros of friendship has no need of the body." When they are young men, Konrad introduces Henrik to Krisztina, the remarkable daughter of a crippled musician. Henrik and Krisztina marry, and the two keep up a close friendship with Konrad, until one morning, on a hunt, Henrik senses that Konrad is about to fire at him. Nothing happens, but Konrad leaves at once, vanishing. For the first time, the General goes to his friend's rooms, and then his wife unexpectedly comes in. He never speaks to her again. Capturing the glamour of the fin de siĆ cle era, as well as its bitter aftermath, M rai eloquently explores the tight and twisted bonds of friendship. (Oct. 2)Forecast: M rai's history he was born in 1900, rose to fame in Hungary in the 1930s, fled the country after WWII and committed suicide in San Diego in 1989, virtually forgotten is at least as compelling as the story he tells here.

link: Indiebound (<-strongly recommended) Amazon:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This thing is in the world...

There is a thing. It is in the world.

You could find it, too, if you looked. It's getting easier and easier to find. People have found it already.

What are you going to do about it, though?

Are you going to help spread the message about it? Are you going to wait and see what happens, and wait and see what you want to do, if you want to do anything?

Tell people about it, if you can.

Spread the word. Share the word. Iterate on it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Look for something and you'll find it.

How good is your google fu?

Can you find it?

It's out there.

You'll know it when you find it.

Good luck.

J M McDermott

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chinese Five Spice Bread, a recipe for a bread machine

I have a bread machine. (Thanks, Mom!) I am using this bread machine. I am using this bread machine to make Chinese Five Spice Bread, which I think is delicious, very much so.

3.25 cups of unbleached plain white flour
1 egg
some milk (I'll explain)
some water (I'll explain)
2 tablespoons of butter
1.25 teaspoons of salt
1.25 teaspoons of sugar
2.25 teaspoons of dry rapid rise yeast
1 abundant fistful of Golden Raisins (I'd guess my meaty palms to be about 1/4 a cup?)
More Savory? 2 teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice Blend for a more savory bread
OR 1 teaspoon Five Spice+1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon+1/2 teaspoon of Nutmeg for a sweeter one.

Step 1: So, get out ye olde machine of bread. Check it for spiders because I know you don't use it enough.

Step 2: Also get out a measuring cup that goes up to 1 cup.

Step 3: Here's where I explain the milk and water. Put the whole egg in the measuring cup. Now, with what's left of that measuring cup, fill it halfway to the top with whole milk, and then fill it the rest of the way to one cup with plain water.

For dry climates, I'd say maybe a little more water. For wet climates, I'd say maybe a little less. You know where you live, right?

Put all the ingredients into the bread machine.

Tell the bread machine to make a medium-sized, white bread.

When the bread is done, pull it out and cool it on a wire rack.

I recommend fig preserves, on top.

I love bread machinery. I love making bread the regular way, but doing it in the machine is just fantastic because I can space out all day long, completely forgetting about the machine while I am working, and the next thing I know there's this wonderful smell coming from the kitchen, and all I had to do was throw some things in a bucket and push a button.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Would anyone here be interested in a book club?

Just curious. I've been thinking about ways to make this site more meaningful than just a big megaphone for my own things.

I've often done book reviews, and promoted things, and tried to use my powers for good. However, there comes a point where I feel like I'm just typing into the dark.

Would anyone be interested in a monthly book club?

I figure I could choose a book (with input from everyone in the comments) and then we all read it. We all post comments about it on a post dedicated to comments about it. I pick and choose what I like best from the comments and pull it up into the main post for the sake of bringing to light interesting things.

I've been thinking about this for all of twenty minutes, but it doesn't seem crazy, yet. A monthly book club, where I pick your book (with your input) and we all read it for fun and commentary. Hopefully it'll be something none of us have read before. I promise I won't just assign everyone Hal Duncan, Jeff VanderMeer and Ekaterina Sedia over and over again like some kind of geeked out fanboy.

In fact, I'm pretty sure I won't be wanting to do these authors at all, for a while, unless something new comes around.

What do you folks, think?

Thursday, September 8, 2011


From the bottom of the boards

The ragged children pile their castles

Sandy crenallations, driftwood guitar chords

And all the happy courtesans

They gather vessels full of sand

The paper moon kite spins the winds

And every body grins and grins

Sandpiper, chase the shells

All is well

A black-skinned girl in chains sings sweet

The way the water filled her floor

boys cursing in Greek beside her cheat

At blackjack while two alabaster twins

hold each other’s hands, don’t swim

The biggest boy holds up a knotty scepter

demanding dancing of toddling jesters

Sandpipers, chase the shells

All is well

By dawn the ocean swallows every moat

The water shatters castle walls

And every sandy township falls. The notes

Of music fade while children fly away,

Terrified to lose themselves to darkness

trapped there, dashing over shorelines

Lonely cries for mothers in the brine

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

when i was in college i'd do this, too, and go out all night, all night, all night

ever go out all night? ever just step out of your own skin, your own life, and seek out a bar, a diner, a bus station or a place like that, where you can just be late into the darkness, and watch the world turn from daylight to starlight and back again?

i did that a few times in college. i slipped out after dark to escape the dormitory, went to the house of pies on kirby, or hung out in a computer lab in the honors college lobby. i even had this spot at the bottom of a stairwell where i could go and read and rest and decompress away from all those people all the time, all those people.

get away from your beds, and your safe places and take to the night. see if you experience something.

i read this book that i liked quite a lot by haruki murakami that dramatized that experience.

a young student reading a book goes to a Denny's, where an acquaintance who had a crush on her sister shows up between practice sessions with a trombone and a cheerful attitude. he sits down to chat with her, a lonely young man with a conspiratorial nature that unpeals in conversation all the layers of defenses that she carries with her to stay safe in the night.

the novel, at the surface, appears to be a series of vignettes that occur in the night, but watch out for all those rambling conversations and stories and cinematic asides into the periphery of two characters - a violent insomiac salaryman and a somnambulist sleeping beauty - and there's layers of meaning wrapped into the words.

imagine each character stepping out of the novel of their own lives, each one capable of carrying a novel on their own. instead, they fall into each other in tokyo, after dark, and reveal the core of their story to each other in conversation, what it all means that they're all trying to communicate, that there is a darkness in the world, rising up from the depths of the unknown and subconscious nightmares, and being together, falling into each other and trying to become one person and to cross the gap between the subconscious depths of two narrators, two novels, two stories...

"after dark" in a city is like saying "in the woods" in a fairytale. the park where children play changes in the nighttime into something hideous and terrifying. the bus lines turn from cheerful commuters to empty, restless men with dead eyes. after dark is when puck and the fairies come out, and wicked men walk the streets, call into a cellphone that lingers in a cheese aisle of a 24 hour food shop, where passing strangers pick it up and hear the terrifying threats. there's a mystery in the world, rising up from the depths of the subconscious, where dreams happen and nightmares happen, too.

the answer to the darkness is to hold each other close. share the dreams and nightmares. talk to each other. just say what you're thinking, and trust the people who are also running into the darkness like you to understand that something important inside of you is trying to escape or you wouldn't be out here so late, deep in the city, where the great mysteries of time linger in every shadow, and people are hurting each other, running from each other, playing jazz music, and trying find something - some truth or something - that they can carry back into the day.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

MAZE is coming in March, 2012

I know everyone's been asking me (and calling me on the phone, and e-mailing me, and asking me at conventions, etc.)

So, I just want to make sure we all get this down: March 2012, there will be a book called MAZE. The book trailer for this book is below.

It will be from Apex Books, distributed through Diamond. It was delayed because of the relaunch of Apex Books through its new distributor.

Want to hurry things along? Pick up an Alien Shot and the proceeds go to ensure the publisher doesn't need to put off the book:

Saturday, September 3, 2011

lish carver?

Should I read the unedited Carveror stick to the regular?