Recommended: More Wattpad Goodness

I’ve nearly completed half of my pledge to take a year off from writing fiction, and it’s helped that I’ve been swamped at work, putting in around 60 hours a week at the old open-floor-plan-paradise-prison that passes for the norm in Silicon Valley these days. With a partial clearing in the release schedule, though, I’ve found a bit of time to catch up and hunker down with some of my favorite writers on Wattpad.

@DawnAdrie – Rules of Escape – is a journey into the linked minds of otherwise institutionalized autistic young people. This story is quite original and succeeds very well in shifting perspective among several characters, some of whom are inside, and some of whom are outside the telepathic circle . There are abundant twists and turns and I’m genuinely excited every time a new chapter pops up in my mobile notifications because I never have any idea whose turn it’s going to be or how it’s going to advance the story.

@ShalonSims – The Dreaming: Dark Star Book Five – the next in an exciting and ambitious tale of a world where totalitarian rulers harness the power of dream walkers in a battle of unlikely factions, featuring the old and the young, the innocent and the suspect, the foolish and the wise, the human and the alien. There’s a lot to unpack in this and its related series, all well worth looking in to.

@LaraBlunte – Blame the Devil – she’s at it again. Yet another irresistible page-turner from the unstoppable @LaraBlunte, a writer of such talent and mystique that she even has me reading romance fiction, almost against my will, and enjoying it immensely, because of her great style and perspective. I always say that my favorite feature of reading is how it lets you remotely occupy the mind of another person. It’s always a treat visiting this one.

@MichaelGraeme – The Sea View Cafe – and speaking of treats, Michael is rolling out another instantly hypnotic story of individuals pulled along by their own incomprehensible inner forces. In other words, literature. Michael’s writing always reminds me of the classics, writers like Conrad and James, Thackery and Eliot. He’s a masterful stylist and quietly burrows you deep inside his characters’ souls. His The Price of Being with Sunita is still resonating, months after I finished reading it.

Highly recommended, all.

In a general note, I’ve enjoyed that past few weeks of having my last story, ‘How my Brained Ended up Inside this Box’, featured on Wattpad. It was even on the top row of the app for a few days there and got a bunch of ‘eyes’ looking at it (also thanks to the beautiful new cover someone made for me (I won’t mention their name here so they don’t get besieged with requests!). Another friend recently made some new covers for some of my other stories – what a great treat. I’m so grateful. But what I started out to say was that you have to enjoy these moments as they happen and not try to hang on to them forever. As a bookseller for many years I became accustomed to the rhythms of the business, and the cycles of sales enjoyed by books as they came and went throughout the years. You’d come across gems and want everyone to read them but their time is always limited. Whenever I think of ‘success’ in fiction I think of The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake, an excellent writer who had several stories featured famously and one book which had its shining moment in the sun. His own moment, his life, was sadly far too short, ending in suicide. I believe we ought to love our time as best we can, and let the things we do, the things we create, have their own time, detach them from our selves, and let them go. They are not us. We have our own stories to live.

Everything is Scammable, in its own way

Reading about the poor souls whose self-published online novels have been stolen and plagiarized by unscrupulous ghouls, I was reminded of the nefarious hacks who’ve attempted to profit on my own non-existent fame and notoriety by publishing fake versions of fake books using my real and profitless name. I pity the fools. But everything is scammable in this world and probably the next one as well. Witness the clownish attempt to get people to click on phishing links when they search for How My Brain Ended Up Inside This Box – a masterpiece of meaningless drivel in and of itself:

backed

the real truth is, here is a real link to a free version of the book thus described.

Featured on Wattpad: How My Brain Ended Up Inside This Box

featured_on_wattpad

I’m happy to see that my most recent sci-fi story, “How My Brain Ended Up Inside This Box”, is now a “featured” selection on Wattpad. It’s a bit of what I like to call “magical futurism”, featuring a black-market “artificially intelligent person” (or A.I.P., or “ape” in the colloquial sense, as in ‘the planet of the’), an organic being, farm-raised on genetically engineered smoothies and destined for auction to the highest bidding criminal enterprise. Gifted with the ability to communicate with foul-mouthed seagulls and ill-tempered felines, the gender-less, age-less, race-less creature has to find its way to escape from the clutches of its mother and other assorted enemies, in this fairly exciting and ultimately utterly unexpected novel.

As with all my books, this one is free on Smashwords and Feedbooks as well.

 

Reissued: In Constant Contact

Sometimes I write. Sometimes I revise. Lately I’ve been on a revision jag, first with Humanoid Central, and now In Constant Contact. This one didn’t need too much. It was actually somewhat better than I remembered it. It’s available for free, as always, from Smashwords, Feedbooks, and the iBookstore.

The not-so-good folks at World Weary Avengers are at it again. Now they’ve come up with a device that keeps you in continual contact with a “professional friend”, someone guaranteed to always be there, whenever you need them, to be whatever you need them to be. Now it’s up to Kandhi Clarke and her team of test engineers to make sure if does what it’s supposed to, and not what it’s not, before this latest tech-astrophe is let loose on the world.

Next up will be some proof-reading and probably new covers for the Snapdragon Alley series.

InConstantContact_Cover2

3 is the new 4

All my dreams have now come true, my prayers have been answered, the good lord took pity on me and granted me this one desire – to see my books achieve the absolute average rating on Goodreads. Three point Oh!

Some time ago I built a web-site that automatically assigns random ratings to random “things” it scrapes off the internet, including businesses, products, places, people, concepts and ideas. What happened is math – the law of averages. Almost everything circles the three point oh drain given a large enough sample size. I’m not saying the exact same thing happened here with Goodreads, but it does seem that there is a law of averages that applies in certain cases – when random people randomly read random books and rate them it should be no surprise that the extreme reactions balance each other out.

I’m also not implying that there are an equal number of die-hard Trump and Bernie supporters and the end result is likely to be Hillary. Or am I?

Anyway, my theory on Goodreads is that single-issue candidates – er, I mean authors who write to specific genre standards – are likely to have higher or lower average ratings based on how well their books meet the expectations of the specific genre readers they target. The people who like to read 17th Century Highland Scottish Romance novels are not a random representation of the general reading public. They’re rating of your version of such a novel will be highly reflective of the perceived quality of that work within that scope. Within micro-genres it is not at all unusual to find average ratings trending either  to the 4’s or the 2’s.

Politicians know this very well, and play to a targeted audience. You’ll often find Bernie on college campuses, Trump at NASCAR rallies and Hillary in African-American churches.

My books don’t meet the expectations of the readers all that well. This is clear. Most of their average ratings are between 2.9 and 3.2, and the aggregate had been hovering just below 3.0 for years. I wondered if it would ever reach that perfect middle. It may only last a day, so I’m celebrating while I can.

Thanks to all the raters, even the haters. A see-saw is a useless toy when only one side is occupied.

goodreads_3.0

about that time travel thing

I’m thinking that time travel might be both the most fun and the most stupid idea in this history of science fiction. The fun part goes without saying. The stupid part relates to the incredibly simplistic thinking that perhaps only an earthbound animal creature is capable of, for all we know. You can go back to the beginning of this sentence and read it again, but the universe is not at all like that. It does not rewind, or if it does, the enormity of such an action is seriously unthinkable. Every drop that flowed, every breath of wind that blew, every molecule that vibrated, all of that would have to be undone. Even the briefest moment (in the subjective experience of it) contains near infinite quantities of change. Nevertheless …

I’m only thinking about it because last night I watched the first episode of the new James Franco series based on the Stephen King novel (11.22.63 on Hulu) about a guy who is shown a portal to a certain time and place (1960, small-town Maine) where he can go and therein set about preventing the assassination of JFK. Leaving aside the old parallel universe conundrum, or the notion that, hey, now the guy can’t ever go back once he accomplishes his mission because every time he goes back the whole thing resets, like a default value.

Silly, but fun. What grabbed my attention was the feature that “the past does not want to be changed” and it actively resists, by setting things on fire, causing cars to crash and chandeliers to fall. It’s as if the past is spying on itself, endlessly paranoid that it’s little masterpiece might get tinkered with. It’s as if Jackson Pollock were hiding out in a museum to leap out just in time just in case someone decided to alter one of those meaningless scribbles of paint.

My thought was, hey, this is sort of like my own ‘Time Zone‘, where the past cannot be changed, but in my version, there’s no such volition, and no chance of ever defying it. What “time” does in that book is simply make you fit in. It absorbs you, changes you. There is nothing you can do about it. You are a molecule and it is the universe. I like my idea better, even though it is absolutely hopeless and makes it impossible for any story to occur in which the protagonists or their goals remain at all.

It’s a more subtle and less obvious take on the whole time travel thing, I think, and if it were made into a movie you could still have the cool cars, hairstyles and early rock and roll if you wanted, and those are clearly the best things about this particular TV show anyway.

 

(oddly, only a few minutes after I posted this I was notified that someone reviewed it on Smashwords. It hadn’t been reviewed there in more than 4 years!! The guy gave it 2 stars. Maybe if I went back in time and re-wrote it he would end up liking it better! What do you think? Should I do it? Are you ready to lose everything that’s happened in your world over the past 17 years since I wrote it?)

How My Brain got a nice review

On Goodreads. Made me happy and edged up my books’ overall Goodreads average rating to 2.99. Can they ever hit 3.00? The Law of Average would say “maybe”. If enough random people randomly read random books and rated them, that rating would likely be around 3.00, and that’s exactly what seems to have happened with mine.

Anyway: How My Brain Ended Up Inside This Box really is (IMHO) a pretty good story, a fresh and somewhat more sane take on artificial intelligence than the usual. And it’s free, of course, like all my books always are on Smashwords or Feedbooks.

Such a great book! A fresh new take on the whole Artificial Intelligence genre. And it’s simplicity is its beauty!

When the AIP discovers their self, we people’s-people reading it discover ourselves and the world along with them!

Glad I stumbled across this little treasure. It will be in one of my all time favourite reads.