The Four Horsemen of the TradPubocalypse

The Four Horsemen of the TradPubocalypse

Or “Riding towards Kobogeddon.”

 

The Twitterverse is all aflutter with the latest screw-up from across the pond. Rayne Hall, the first horseman of the TradPubocalypse has been sounding the horns over W.H. Smith and Kobo’s recent dumping of every indie author from their shelves — virtual and otherwise. If you’re curious to get caught up quickly, the tag #kobogeddon should get you started. Or you could just keep reading.

 

So, what kicked off this kerfuffle? Apparently, the webmonkeys at W.H. Smith and Kobo are too busy playing around to code filters and search-check results. They could be relying on the ancient “show all keyword matches” method that ceased being effective sometime back in the mid-1990s. So, if you had a book that had the word “Daddy” in the title, their search engine would show it in the results page for any search involving that word.

 

Even if it was clear that the book in question was part of a genre called erotica.

 

So, chances are that someone’s kid found an erotica title while searching innocuous keywords. It happens. While I don’t write or read erotica myself, I know that it exists. I’ve known that it existed since I was a teenager. Used to be that it was treated a lot like porn magazines and movies and kept tucked safely away where kids couldn’t come across but those who wanted to get at it could do so. Stores generally wouldn’t sell erotica titles (though one could argue that the entire freaking romance genre is just “erotica acceptable to middle class housewives”) but, if you really wanted to find the stuff, a trip to your local adult bookstore would net you some results. You could also order it via mail. Advertisements in certain kinds of magazines told those who wanted to know where to go to get their fix.

 

So, a kid or something finds one of these rather disgusting books and their parents get their knickers all in a twist. Complaints are made, cries about the collapse of civilization because someone wrote erotica that would fit comfortably in Genesis (like, oh say, Lot’s daughters, perhaps?) and W.H. Smith pulls down their website. Okay, so far, so good. After all, if you come across a book that is offensive during a common keyword search, you should let the site owner know so that they can tweak their search engine results or their user-controlled search filtering/browsing preferences so that erotica is only found by people who honestly want to buy the stuff and not by kids or people who would like to pretend that the dark side of humanity doesn’t exist.

 

However, instead of, you know, filtering their site better and going over to ensure that keywords return better results and possibly kicking off authors who purposefully mis-tagged their books to get higher search results, W.H. Smith and Kobo kicked off every. indie. author. They didn’t just kick off erotica writers. They threw out authors who have never written a sex scene in any of their books. They kicked out children’s writers. They kicked out sci-fi writers. Fantasy. If you were indie, you were out. Meanwhile, erotica itself is thriving on both sites, just so long as it’s backed up by a publisher. So, you can still find all the disgusting erotica you want…but you can’t find any indie-published books of any genre.

 

That, to be charitable, was pretty freakin’ stupid.

 

Erotica exists. People buy it. They read it. Not too long ago, Fifty Shades of Gray was all over the place. You couldn’t take two steps without someone talking about that book. And it’s erotica in an almost pure form. Not my cup of tea but then, I’m not getting my knickers in a twist or my corset knotted over someone else wanting to read about Sub/Dom relationships. I am, however, most displeased at the thought that someone like Sarah Hoyt, Jonathan Broughton, or even David D. Levine would have had their works pulled down because some idiot thinks that all indie books are erotica.

 

Sure, the traditional publishers are probably clinking their champagne glasses together now, all celebratory at us upstart indies getting pulled because W.H. Smith and Kobo can’t be arsed to hire competent web developers. However, their victory will wind up being as short-lived as Valenti’s attempts to make VCRs illegal (“The VCR is to the movie industry as the Boston Strangler is to a woman alone at night.”) Indies aren’t going away and traditional publishers aren’t going to stop being dinosaurs. The “gatekeepers” have had control of the market for way too long. They let in crap like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Gray and shut out things like Harry Potter (seriously, J.K. had to go to twelve publishers before she found one willing to print her work. She’s made over a billion dollars now. Tell me again why I should take the big houses seriously?) Indies are telling stories and building worlds that people want to read about. We don’t all hew to the politically correct lines and some of us aren’t to the left of Stalin (go ahead, try to get an in with a sci-fi house if you’re not an authoritarian. Go on. I’ll wait). In the indie world, you really do sink or swim based on how good your story is and how hard you’re willing to work to get word out there. You don’t wind up in print-hell because your publisher decides to only do one print run and then, if it sells out in a week, won’t do another because, well, you forgot to bow and scrape properly while doing your daily rounds of arse-kissing.

 

I’m working to put together a list of authors who had their non-erotica works pulled from Kobo and W.H. Smith. If you like good literature and are sick of reading the same regurgitated crap that hits all the acceptable politically correct points but neglects to develop an actual, you know, plot, then consider buying from an indie.

 

And yeah, I’ll keep posting about how Kobogeddon is going. Earlier this evening it looked like they’d banned Rayne Hall’s account entirely because she’s stirring up trouble. Methinks someone’s never heard of the Streisand Effect.

 

— G.K.

Twilight of Lanar’ya Out November 4!

Twilight of Lanar'ya Out November 4!

Yesterday, my new publisher Rooster and Pig let me know that they’ve set a release date for Twilight of Lanar’ya. It will be out for sale again with a new cover and less typos on November 4. I’m really excited about this and loving the new cover by the super-talented Lex Valentine. So, if you’d like to get your hands on a copy, I’ll be posting the information about where you can get it here on November 4.

 

 

Tell me that isn’t awesome looking.

 

And, in other news, I’m close to finished with the first draft of Midnight of Lanar’ya. I’m hoping to get it wrapped up before the end of October so that I can focus on one of my back-burner projects for NaNoWriMo. I’ve already outlined the third book in my Lanarian Empire trilogy and will probably get cracking on it in December or January — once I’m done with the edits and revisions on Midnight. It’s not a good idea to try to write a follow-up book while you’re still working through revisions of its prequel. Too easy to give into temptation and move scenes around and all that.

 

I’m also, as always, looking for a better job. I’m going to break down and take the LPI 1 exam in the next few weeks to get that certification and open my horizons up to a broader array of jobs in hopes that I can at least get somewhere better than where I am where the hours don’t leave me so drained and worn down.

 

Well, for now, I’m going to go get some more rest. My room-mate brought home Con Plague and I caught it. Once I’m back on my feet tomorrow, it’ll be back to the grindstone on Midnight of Lanar’ya.

 

— G.K.

And the Award for World’s Worst Blogger Goes to…

And the Award for World's Worst Blogger Goes to...

Me! I am absolutely horrible at updating this place.

 

Though, in my defense, I have been pretty busy lately. I’ve been working on a complete redesign of Rooster and Pig’s site that is coming along nicely. I’ve also still got my day job. And, I’ve been writing. A lot. I’m about half-way through this draft of Midnight of Lanar’ya and hoping to crank out the rest before November. I will be joining in NaNoWriMo, probably with either The Penitent or the third book in the Fall of the Lanarian Empire series. Also, I’ve been doing a good bit of editing for R&P who will soon be re-releasing Twilight of Lanar’ya.

 

Other than that, though, I’ve been slacking. I really need to get a better routine down for everything. I also really need to get a job that doesn’t mess with my Circadian rhythm so much. However, the economy is still in the crapper and so that makes finding something more suitable just that much more difficult. If any one out there is looking to hire a writer/editor, drop me a line!

 

At any rate, I just wanted to wipe the dust off this place and give all three of you who read this blog a quick update on my status. Yes, Dad, unless the world comes to its end or the TARDIS shows up out back, you’ll have the second book within a few more months. Now quit asking me what’s going to happen in it! 😛

— G.K

Writers and the Fan-Fic Culture

Writers and the Fan-Fic Culture

Cross-posted over at Rooster and Pig’s blog

 

It’s no secret that many of us — especially fantasy writers like me — got our start by working in someone else’s established universe. For me, my first “real” creative work was from the Legend of Zelda when I was eight or nine years old. After that, it was the worlds of Dragonlance and the Death Gate Cycle when I was thirteen years old. I did also work in my own universe, though the concept (Atlantis) wasn’t terribly original (hey, cut me some slack, I was fifteen), and the execution was…well…adolescent to say the least (again, I was fifteen).

 

In time, I graduated to world-building while playing and writing campaigns and adventures for Dungeons and Dragons. I also developed a healthy dose of respect for cartographers, artists, and dungeon designers — not to mention architects! By the time I got into college, I was generally writing my own original works, mostly plays and short stories as I had not really developed the chops for novel-writing. I did, however, continue to write fanfics. I wrote several set in the Star Trek: The Next Generation universe and one set in the world of Final Fantasy VIII. The fanfic that really got me convinced I could finally do a novel was Alayne’s Story. I spent the better part of five years writing that story, posting it on the World of Warcraft European forums every Friday. Even today, I still dabble in fanfics when I need to just build up my chops or let something original percolate so that I don’t over/underwrite it too badly.

 

The Internet, through services such as Fanfiction.net, have really given a good boost to remix writers. None of us ever think to try to profit from our works. After all, the characters and the settings are not “ours” in the ownership sense of the term. However, it is distressing to sit back and see just how many authors and corporate owners feel threatened by fanfic writers or feel as if having fanfics written with their property would somehow diminish the value of that property. This is a rather blinkered view, if you ask me. Yes, certainly, there are a lot of poorly-written fanfics out there. I’ve seen plenty of them where I wondered if the writer had any concept of grammar, spelling, or readability. There are some fanfics that, while earning passing marks for grammar, spelling, and formatting, fail because the story is unoriginal, the pacing is poor, or parts of it were too gratuitous. Granted, I’m sure all of us have written at least one or two scenes or treatments just for catharsis (and if you haven’t, you’re either not a writer, lying, or under the age of six). But, for the most part, we wouldn’t show those to anyone. There are many fanfics out there that cater to a specific audience or attempt to “fix” the story that the creator told because parts of it were unsatisfying. There are some, like mine, that delve into the “what if?” realm where we change events and then ride the ripple of that change throughout the universe (these are often called “alternate universe” or “AU” fanfics). There are some that attempt to tell the story of the characters in the days after the ending. And many of these are quite good. Many are very original. Many, in my opinion, rival the “canonical” or “licensed” works in quality.

 

For those authors and owners who either tolerate or, better still, embrace their fans and their fans’ written fanfics, these things can enrich and enhance the community — not only of that particular work, but the writing community in general. For those authors who try to stamp out fanfics using their works, who focus on exercising complete control over their works, the community of writers is left much poorer for their successful efforts.

 

After all, in the end, we’re all fanfic writers of one kind or another. All of us grew up hearing nursery rhymes and fairy tales and I’ll bet every last one of us, even the non-writers out there, would sometimes imagine “what if?” “What if Snow White didn’t eat the apple?” “What if the evil stepmother was actually nice to Cinderella instead?” “What happened during ‘happily ever after?'” “Why was the Wicked Witch…well, wicked? What made her like that?” From these questions and our imagination, new stories were born. And from practice in doing that, we began to build original tales with new characters, new roles, new monsters, new conflicts.

 

“There is nothing new under the sun.” By tolerating — nay, encouraging — fledgling writers to test their wings out with established characters, events, and universes, we enrich the literary universe and ourselves. At least, that’s what I think. And I will always be eternally grateful to Nintendo, Shigeru Miyamoto,* SquareSoft (now Square Enix), Blizzard, and the BBC for not suing the crap out of me whenever I, unlicensed and unauthorized writer that I am, decided to dabble in their universes for a little bit when I needed a break from my own.

 

— G.K.

 

Shigeru Miyamoto, Robert Jordan, and Brandon Sanderson are my Holy Trinity of Writers. They are served by the Archangels Russel T. Davies, Margaret Weis, Tracey Hickman, Terry Goodkind, Terry Brooks, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and Piers Anthony. Don’t you dare judge me.

Twilight of Lanar’ya to be Re-published

Twilight of Lanar'ya to be Re-published

It’s official. I’ve signed a contract with Rooster and Pig Publishing. They are going to re-publish Twilight of Lanar’ya!

 

In other news, I’m well on the way through Midnight of Lanar’ya. The pace is picking back up and I find myself writing all hours of the day and night. Sometimes I wish that I could just quit my day job and stay home and do nothing but write. However, there are bills to pay so I can’t do that yet. However, I can and am continuing to look for a better job. One with better hours, better benefits. One that won’t leave me so sapped at the end of the day that I feel as if a zombie is gnawing on my brains. I’ve applied at a few places and have started writing really quirky cover letters in hopes of getting some HR drone’s attention. If anyone out there knows of a place that could use a editor/marketer/web writer/web designer, feel free to leave a comment. At this point, I’m willing to consider anything as long as it pays well enough to keep me out of debt.

 

I’m also getting a good bit of attention over at FanFiction.net. It’s funny, you know. When I applied for different jobs at Blizzard in hopes of staying on with them, I constantly heard back that I needed to join FanFiction.net and improve my writing. Now that I’m over there (as G.K. Masterson, of course), I’m hearing almost nothing but compliments. I have theorycrafters trying to figure out what I’m going to do next. Most of the criticism I’ve heard has been very constructive and is helping me to craft a better story. But no one’s told me I suck. No one’s said I was a bad writer. And, to be perfectly frank (hell, I’m two sheets to the wind at the mo’), I sometimes find myself wondering just what it was that the guys at Blizzard found so objectionable. When I’d ask them for specifics, I got the run around.

 

Ah well. Not my problem anymore. I’m getting published again and my publisher loves the stuff I’ve written and the stuff I’ve pitched.

 

Right now, aside from my job, the only thing annoying me is how frequently my stories are waking me up at night. I’m on a veritable spiel. I’m working on five projects at once! Dear God in Heaven! I need a forty-eight hour day! I just don’t have enough time. There’s never enough time!

 

At any rate, I guess I’d best head off to sleep. It’s closing in on 1 am here and I have to work tomorrow. Christ…will these voices in my head let me sleep tonight? Or will I find myself sitting at my computer at 4 am writing feverishly because the stories spinning ’round my brain won’t let me sleep?

Only one way to find out, I suppose.

 

— G.K.

Life Is Getting Interesting

Life Is Getting Interesting

And I’m still the world’s worst blogger. Of all time.

 

Anyhow, I’m still looking for a better job. One that doesn’t shunt me off into a cube farm (though the guy behind and across from me is hilarious. I don’t think we’ve had an “appropriate” conversation in months. Which is awesome) and give me hours that almost guarantee I’m going to be too brain dead to write when I get home. Benefits would also be really nice. And maybe more than one week’s vacation per annum.

 

I know. I’m asking a lot. And, I’ve been applying left-right-and-center for anything I’m remotely qualified for. Supposedly the economy’s picking back up, right? Well, doesn’t look like it from my end.

 

Still, work continues apace on The Chameleon and I’ve re-re-re-re-re-re-(yougetthepoint)started working on Midnight of Lanar’ya. I’m also putting up Adrift over on FanFiction.net which keeps me fairly entertained. No, I’m not freaking out over Peter Capaldi being the 12th Doctor. I’m kind of glad they didn’t go for another young actor. Matt Smith was great — don’t get me wrong, I’d totally buy him a beer (if he’s old enough to drink it) — but I’ve been missing the Doctor being a man’s man since Eccleston left the role. Never thought I’d ever find a man with short hair attractive until I saw him.

 

*takes an ice cold shower*

 

Don’t you dare judge me.

 

Anyhow, with all the changes in the publishing industry lately, I’ve been doing good to keep abreast of them, keep writing, keep turning up for work, and not misplace my sanity. Again. For the fourth time.

 

And, that’s about it from this front. Better go do something productive. Like point and laugh at people who are saying “Capaldi’s too old to be the Doctor!” Because that’s just how I roll.

 

— G.K.

Tubthumping

Tubthumping

I get knocked down but I get up again. You’re not ever keep me down.

 

Well, I’m a horrible blogger, aren’t I? I keep saying I’m going to update this site and then I go off and get busy with other things. I’m done making promises because every time I make a promise, I promptly break it. Part of it is that I’m working on three different projects at once: The Chameleon, Midnight of Lanar’ya, and Adrift. The other part of it is that my day job is dragging me down. However, things are really looking up for me after noticing that my friend Vicktor’s publishing company is hiring. A couple of rather lengthy Skype conversations later and I’m on board over there. If everything goes well for the next month, I’ll even be getting paid to edit, help out with recruiting new authors, getting my own novels published through them, and helping out with the online marketing and community building.

 

I’ll still have my day job, of course. Until I can be certain I’ll be bringing in enough from R&P to pay the bills, I’m going to keep the job I have. But should it get to the point where I can go full-time with R&P, I’ll go in a heartbeat.

 

Well, I’m going to get back to working on my three projects. Just wanted to let everyone know what’s going on with me.

 

— G.K.

 

PS — If you don’t get the title of this post, watch this:

 



That Escalated Quickly…

That Escalated Quickly...

I said I was going to post here more often and then got busy.

But busy in a good way, I suppose. I’ve been working on Midnight of Lanar’ya and a new project I’m calling The Chameleon. I’ve also managed to get over my Doctor Who addiction (somewhat) and found more energy to write and edit. As a matter of fact, I’m editing some stories for people over at Fanfiction.net.

And I’ve been sharing my headspace with a migraine for a week now. Funny how quickly you learn you don’t really need to eat. Or move. Or do much of anything except consider performing head-surgery on yourself. I don’t know if I’m just getting older or if my pain tolerance is building up beyond all human expectations but I’ve seriously been wondering just how many blood vessels I need in my head and whether or not I could survive ripping them out. With a spoon. Because that would be less painful.

All kidding aside, things are actually looking up for me and will be perfect once I can get rid of this damned headache. Can we tell that I’m in the hyper-stage of the aura phase? It’s like being manic depressive only with more physical pain and less mood swings.

Going to go back to writing for now. At least when I’m lost in a story, I can ignore my head trying to compact my skull. And yeah, I’m seriously going to post here more. I’ll probably be putting a call out for beta-readers with strong stomachs in a few weeks.

Getting Back to Basics

Getting Back to Basics

It’s been ages since I’ve posted an update. I know, I’m horrible. I wish I could say I’d spent a lot of time working on Midnight of Lanar’ya but the truth is I haven’t. Things with my job have been hectic and most evenings, by the time I get home, I just veg out playing video games or watching movies or TV shows (Doctor Who being my current favorite).

However, over the past few weeks, Midnight of Lanar’ya has been demanding my attention again. So, I’ve started getting my notes organized (nearly a year between writing will make you need your notes) and I’m going back through Twilight of Lanar’ya to make certain everything is up-to-date on my notes. I’m hoping to get cracking on this novel again within the next few weeks.

I am also looking for a job that won’t drain me as much as the one I have does. Don’t get me wrong; I work hard and give my all to this job. It’s just that the hours and the environment are not really conducive to me having the energy I need to keep writing in the evenings. On top of that, my sleep apnea has been really acting up meaning I’m almost in a hypnotic state most of the time.

I’ve made a pact with myself to try to post an update here at least a couple of times a week. I’m also going to link to more author sites and try to get to know some other indie fantasy/sci-fi writers to see if they have any advice for balancing a full-time job and a writing schedule.

But, for now, I’m going to get cracking on my notes.

Progressing…Slowly

Progressing...Slowly

I know, I don’t post here as often as I should. Work on Midnight of Lanar’ya continues apace. I’m working on the second draft and can no longer really give an accurate estimate of where I am in it. There’s so much rewriting that needs to be done it’s not funny. On top of that, my job is slowly sucking my energy dry. I hadn’t realized just how difficult the 10 – 7 shift would be on me but after nine months, I’m realizing it that it’s not something I’ll be able to keep up for years on end.

I am looking for a different job that would give me better hours. I’m also considering putting into practice something that Bill Whittle (one of my heroes) suggested. However, for now, I’m stuck suffering through the hours at work because this is not an economy in which one can afford to quit their job. And, honestly, I believe it’s only going to get worse. Considering that I had to study statistics and records as part of getting my history degree, I’ve known that the media in the US was lying their assess off for years. “Official” unemployment is at 8%. However, they changed how it was calculated after the 2008 elections. If you go by the older methodology, unemployment in the US is at around 15%. The stock market, NASDAQ, Standard and Poor’s, and the Dow are all going down because Congress is too busy playing games to, you know, actually fix the crap they broke back in the 1970s.

So, I’m not too optimistic on finding a new job. I do try to be hopeful but, in the end, I’ve a feeling that things are going to get much, much worse before they start getting better.

If they start getting better.