Link, Synopsis, Translation IV

Link: “First Ever Self-Destruct Novel Launched by James Patterson

Synopsis:  The “world’s best-selling author” (who doesn’t actually write his own books) has a cunning plan to save traditional publishing. First, one lucky fan gets the privilege of paying $294,038 to be flown to a Dick Cheney-esque “undisclosed location for a meal” with Patterson (breakfast, lunch, or dinner apparently still to be decided) and then have 24 whole hours to read “his” latest opus, after which that copy of the book will destroyed. Somehow. But surely in suitably dramatic fashion because a SWAT team, having nothing better to do, will be involved. Even more, 1,000 somewhat-less-lucky fans will be allowed to download this same book for free, which after 24 hours will self-destruct in Mission: Impossible–style fashion, though hopefully without also destroying their Kindles and Nooks.

Translation: SWAT is the new DRM. I did not see that one coming.

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An Unexpected Conversation About Otter Sweat

At Target the other day:


Me: “Marine Musk? Smells like otter sweat.”

Young Girl I Didn’t Realize Was Behind Me: “How do you know what otter sweat smells like?”

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About That $2,551.49 Kindle Edition…

Even if this reference is actually worth the price…

most expensive kindle book ever

…the grant proposal to afford it is a real killer.

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A Belated New Year’s Reading Resolution

This year, I will refuse to buy or read books where the blurb contains the phrases “ancient enemy,” “ancient evil,” “chosen one,” or “devastating plague.”

“Zombies” is going to be a pretty tough sell, too.

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Je Suis Charlie

Je Suis Charle

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Three Nights of Ascension

It took a while, but I finally had enough free time to fire up the DVR and watch Syfy’s Ascension.

ascension syfy

The idea of a generation starship secretly launched during the Kennedy administration to preserve humanity on another world in case of a nuclear holocaust has had me grinning from ear to ear since I first learned of it. How did it actually turn out, though? And how much storage space does a hundred-year supply of liquor and lipstick need?

My end of the first night reaction: “No. Oh, hell no. No. What did they have to go and do that for? No.”

My end of the second night reaction: “Bryan Cranston only being in the first 30 minutes of Godzilla was less of a disappointment than this bait-and-switch. Maybe they can pull it off in the conclusion.”

My end of the third night reaction: “The star child must be born? Space ‘em. Space ‘em all. Writers, producers, studio execs, space ‘em all!”

Final thoughts: How in God’s name did they pitch this? “It’s Carrie meets Mad Men meets X Men meets X Files meets Sixth Sense meets punctuated evo-what? meets Black Widow from Marvel’s Avengers, only now she’s a blonde lesbian who loves tacos.” Seriously, somebody actually green-lit six hours of this? And then didn’t give Tricia Helfer one toaster joke?

Watching it, I couldn’t help imagining Ascension if it had actually been made in the Sixties. By Irwin Allen, with all those Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea sets. Starring Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden, with special guest star Frank Sinatra, Jr., for extra cheese. Now that show would have been awesome.

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The Waiting. And the Staring.

Whenever my wife or I duck into a store at any point during a walk, the waiting–and the staring–begin…

waiting kaylee

Eight-and-a-half years with our girl, and it still happens every single time.

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The Night the Nazis Came to Dinner

The Night the Nazis Came to Dinner by Sean McLachlan


The second story, “To End All Wars,” set in William Hope Hodgson’s Night Land and the longest of the four works presented here, is a five-star read. Moody, well-written, memorable, and full of very human reactions to the literally inhuman world around them. The collection is worth getting for that story alone (especially if you’re a fan of Hodgson’s Night Land in general or of John C. Wright’s Awake in the Night Land in particular).

The other three stories are three-star near-misses, starting well and full of interesting ideas but never quite nailing their endings in the same way “To End All Wars” does. Enjoyable while you read them, but not as memorable or effective as they could have been.

From Amazon:

A spectral dinner party goes horribly wrong. . .

An immortal warrior hopes a final battle will set him free. . .

A big-game hunter preys on endangered species to supply an illicit restaurant. . .

A new technology soothes First World guilt. . .

Here are four dark tales that straddle the boundary between reality and speculation. You better hope they don’t come true.

Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Smashwords

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A Writer’s Dilemma

There’s this novel.

I wrote it shortly after my screenwriting days, back when my would-be writing career found itself at square one again. No agent would read it. No publisher would look at it. I knew my query letters sucked, like they always had, but I also knew the book itself was solid. And when a traditional publisher finally did consider it, the damn thing nearly sold.

It was good, they agreed. Very good, in fact. They just didn’t like the last hundred or so pages.

Their reasons made sense, too, the kind of feedback that causes writers to smack their own heads and shout “Of course!” And I knew from that moment on, with complete and utter certainty, that I had to scrap the final third of the manuscript and come up with something else entirely.

For three years, I knew that. I just couldn’t crack the new Act Three. Even as I gave up on a traditional career and published four indie books on my own, I knew those last hundred or so pages had to go. I just could not, for the life of me, come up with the replacement.

Until the day after this past Christmas, that is, in one coffee- and then beer-fueled, longhand-writing, paper-crumpling afternoon of notes and outlines and revised notes and revised outlines.

I got on the plane the next day and knew, with complete and utter certainty, that I had it. Yesterday, I started writing, and the main character’s voice, the tone of the piece, came back within moments. I still knew this guy. I wrote the first of the new chapters, realized a few of the passages early on in the old Act Three could still be used, and went to that New Year’s Eve party afterward a very happy man.

And today? Today I made the mistake of reading through all of those hundred or so old pages again, but this time deeply, and carefully, in a way I hadn’t done in at least three years now, looking for whatever other portions could still be used in the new Act Three.

And I realized the old Act Three actually holds up.

It has its bumps and rough patches, sure, and the final scene—the one that actually made me want to write this book in the first place—doesn’t quite gel the way that it should. But the flow is good, the characters react naturally for how they developed in the first two-thirds, and the whole thing just feels right in a way I don’t remember it feeling back when I read that editor’s notes, smacked my head, and shouted “Of course!”

So now I have two completely different yet equally possible endings, too many irons in the fire to do both of them justice, and a total writer’s dilemma.

Why can’t this writing thing ever be simple?

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Awkward Family Holiday Dinner

Not quite my family, but close enough for therapy:

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