There was no Monday Musings post yesterday. We were away for the weekend at a chili cook off, and I needed yesterday for a recovery day. Funny thing is, I didn’t really feel as tired as I usually do right after the cook off on Saturday, but by the time we stopped for lunch on the way home Sunday, I was wiped. And I still felt it yesterday, so I decided to put this post off until today.
The cook off was great. We like Maine State. It’s a well-run, fun cook off. We and a group of cooks stay at the same hotel, and we have a potluck dinner after the cook off on Saturday evening. We started that a few years ago, when we realized that we all would come back to the hotel, jump in the pool or hot tub for a bit, sit around and talk and laugh, and then everyone left to go to different places for dinner. Now, we can enjoy the company and food all evening. It’s a nice cook off, and a very enjoyable weekend.
The paperback copies of my book should be here today. I am excited to see how it looks actually printed for real. I’m planning a few fun things for September, so stay tuned for that. Meanwhile, it’s available as an ebook at all the usual places, and on CreateSpace and Amazon as print on demand. Links are below this post.
With the rest of the writing, I am still working on the expansion of the novelette to full novel status. It is going pretty well, and I did get my goal words in yesterday. I have given myself a deadline to get this draft done, and I figure if I give in every time I don’t really feel like writing, I will never get it done on time. That’s one of the advantages, to me, of being an outliner. If I don’t feel the energy to write, I don’t have to worry about figuring out where to go next. I can look at the chapter outline, and I have a place to start. That is usually all I need- a start. Once I get going, I can almost always keep moving forward.
I can’t believe Lambeau will be a year old in a couple months. It seems we just got him from the Animal Rescue League such a short time ago. He’s grown so much from the little puppy I could carry in my arms! He’s doing pretty well with his training. He’s very good for me here, most of the time. He still gets a bit too overexcited at class with the other dogs, but he is starting to settle out and work with me a bit faster.
That’s what’s been going on. A day late, but better late than never, right?
Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.
Download a free sample or purchase in your favorite ebook format at:
Also available at:
Amazon: (Now also in paperback)
Apple iTunes Bookstore
Barnes and Noble:
I was challenged to the ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) ice bucket challenge. For anyone (is there anyone?) who hasn’t heard about it, you are challenged by a friend, relative, or maybe enemy to either donate $10 to ALS and dump a bucket of ice water over your head, or skip the ice bath and donate $100. You are to video yourself dumping the ice, and post it online as proof. And you get to challenge others to do the same.
I haven’t checked lately, but I believe that last figures I saw were around $11 million in donations. I have to say, it was a clever idea, and whoever thought of it was inspired. It’s a relatively easy thing to do. My video was under two minutes, and I’d guess the entire thing, including changing out of the wet clothes, took about 15 minutes. It’s not a huge time commitment like a carnival, or a race or walk. You don’t need special equipment, nor do you have to travel to do it. $10 is an reasonable donation for most people. The charity is certainly a deserving one. It’s simple, entertaining, and really, brilliant.
It’s gone viral, of course. There are videos everywhere of people dousing themselves with ice water. I guess there are some who find it annoying, but I’ve been amused with the reactions. Let me tell you, that water is COLD! LOL And it has attracted the attention of the famous, as well as you and I. I have seen videos from Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, George Takei, and John Barrowman.
Oh, I suppose there are those who are challenged who will just ignore it, for any number of reasons. Some, I am sure, are valid. Some, I am also sure, will be more rationalizations than real reasons, but that’s the way it is with everything. A lot of people are embracing it, and having some fun while supporting research that may, some day, find a cure for ALS.
So, if YOU haven’t done the challenge yet- consider this your call out! 24 hours to either donate $10 and dump a bucket of ice water over your head (with video proof) or a $100 donation to ALS. Go!
By now, I think most have heard about the pricing war being waged by Amazon and the publishing house, Hachette. The short version of the now ridiculously drawn out battle is that Amazon wants to be able to cap the price on e-books sold through Amazon regardless of what the publisher or author may want. Hachette does not want Amazon to tell them how to price their books.
Everyone in the writing world seems to have an opinion on this clash of the titans. As a reader, would I like to have e-books priced low? Sure, I would. I would also like my food prices lower, and clothing, and cars, and just about everything else, too. As an author, with a book for sale through KDP, Amazon’s Kindle publishing arm, I’m not sure how I feel about Amazon saying “You can charge up to this much for your book, and no more. Ever. (Well, unless we decide to change the terms at some point in the future, which we might, and then you have to deal with those.)”
Of course, both sides are spinning the conflict to put themselves in the right, and the other guy in the wrong. Amazon claims that e-books should be cheap because there is less overhead. In some areas, yes; in others; no. Editing, artwork, proofing, it all costs money, and for some, that can add up. And all of that comes out of the “profit” the book earns, no matter who publishes it. Amazon also claims that lowering the cost of a book means more sales and more profit, and if a book is too pricey, then readers will buy something else. It sounds good, in theory, and probably works for some titles. But-
Readers are not solely driven by price. Have you ever bought a book by your favorite author on the release date, at the hardcover price, even though you know the cheaper paperback will be out in a matter of months? Of course you have. So have I. We’ve also looked at an e-book we really want to read, thought “Geez, that seems a lot for an e-book,” but clicked the Buy button anyway. John Scalzi talks about the pricing issues quite well here: Amazon’s Latest Volley
He also refers to the email Amazon sent out to all of its KDP authors. I got it, and I have to say, I agree with most of the opinions being voiced. Cheap tactic, not very professional, and trying to get us (those selling books on Amazon) to do exactly what Amazon is accusing Hachette of doing: putting the authors in the middle of the fight. You can read it here: Readers United
On the other side, is this New York Times article, which is tilted in the other direction. Both are biased, and certainly don’t give the whole story.
Another comment on that Amazon letter, this time from Chuck Wendig: In Which Amazon Calls You To Defend the Realm
For the record, I’m not selling a ton on Amazon. I’m probably ranked about 90 bajillion there. I’m not 100% happy with some of the things Amazon does. I have not personally dealt with traditional publishing, but I know enough people and read enough that I am aware that things are not always kittens and unicorns in that world, either. I have no stake in the fight, and, really, no author does. This is a fight between two large (or in Amazon’s case, behemoth) companies over money. Because that is the real issue here. Neither one of the two is doing any of this out of the pure, golden goodness of their heart. They are doing it because they feel the other way will hurt their business. That is the bottom line: business.
So, c’mon, Amazon, call it like it is. You, too, Hachette. Stop the NYT ads. Stop the emails, and the sponsored posts, and all the other crap. Trust me, I am not emailing anyone on the behalf of Amazon or Hachette. It’s disrespectful, and a low tactic to ask me to. It’s time to stop the name-calling and other bullshit, and work this thing out. Meanwhile, I’m going to go write another chapter or two.
Just some random updates and thoughts today:
How is the puppy doing, you ask? (And even if you didn’t, I am going to tell you, anyway.) He is doing great! He was quite good at his Level 2 Obedience class last week. Much more focused and ready to work than the last time we tried that one. The four weeks of work with private lessons really made a difference. It wasn’t him as much as it was me, I think. When he would get over-excited or just bratty (he is in his adolescent stage, you know), I would get frustrated because I couldn’t figure out how to deal with him like that. And then he would key off that, and get confused, and we’d both end up upset and unable to do anything. Now, I know a bit more, and have some strategies and techniques for working with him a lot better.
His next big adventure was on Saturday when we took him to a chili cook off. We wanted to be able to take him with us when we go to the ones that are dog friendly, and this was a good starter since it is relatively local and we do it in one day. No hotel stay needed. And he was awesome! I brought along his crate and the fake lambskin I use at home for him to lay on. He was leashed to the tent pole behind me. He didn’t get antsy or loud at all. He did whine a little at a dog he could see out on the field, but he settled quickly. He was great with everyone who wanted to say hello. A little jumping once in a while, but everyone was very cooperative when I asked them to just walk away from him when he did that. He walked very well on his leash and didn’t pull or lunge. He would come up to me once in while and just nudge my arm, and I’d talk to him, pet him, and give him some treats, and he would go back and lie down again. He didn’t like it when I walked out of his sight, but I think that was just because it was a new place and experience, and he is getting used to looking to me for direction. But even then, he didn’t bark or try to escape and follow me. Yeah, I was very proud of my boy on Saturday!
The location for this year’s Worlds Championship Chili Cook Off in October has been announced. It’s going to be in Las Vegas again. yay. Oh, did that seem less than enthusiastic? Sorry, but I have to admit I am not jumping for joy. Don’t get me wrong, I like Vegas. The casinos are amazing, there is always a million things going on, and you can’t beat the people watching. But it’s the second part of that which makes it less than a jump for joy place to me. We’ve been to two Worlds in Vegas, and IMO, they were a bust. There is just too much going on, and the public doesn’t give a crap about one more thing. And it is the interaction with the people who come to taste the chili that is the most fun for me. I, of course, want to cook the best pot of competition chili I can every time I compete, but I am not a cook who wants to just sit there and stare at my pot all day long. I like talking to people. I like making and serving People’s Choice. Vegas is not a good place for that. I was thinking about cooking in the Last Chance competition on Friday, but now I am having second thoughts. I may just hold out my last competition until the location is better for the things I enjoy about cooking. If I do cook, we will make the minimal amount of chili to serve, because both of the last times we cooked in Vegas, we ended up throwing chili away. I will go, and I will have fun, I know that. And I won’t talk it down in any chili areas. I also do fully understand that if that is where the sponsorship money and support is, well, of course, that is where we go. Just don’t expect me at the “We’re Going to Vegas!” parties. I’d rather save my Vegas trips for times when I can just enjoy it for what it is.
The garden is growing pretty well now. The second sowing of radishes is up, the carrots are growing, I have zucchini and winter squash out there, and some tiny peppers are starting. I also have a ton of tomatoes, all of which are green. I have this sinking feeling that they are all going to ripen at the same time, and we will be buried in tomatoes! Better than none at all, though, right?
Hmm, this went on longer than I expected. How is your Monday going?
Wednesday Wanderings: Your Brain When Writing, 3200 Year Old Tree Photographed, Rules of Alcohol, and Beautiful Doors
This is what happens in your brain when you write. The interesting thing is there is a difference in seasoned writers versus amateurs:
It took 126 photos, but this image of a 3200 year old tree is amazing:
On the amusing side, Top Ten Rules of Alcohol, and there is some good advice here:
Some beautifully decorated doors from around the world. They look like they should lead to magical places:
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Caterpillar is a short science fiction story set on a desolate planet with two suns. It was invaded by Earth and the native society was torn apart in the aftermath. All of the natives go through several stages of development, and can only mate and reproduce in one of them. The remaining king of the Levelers is traveling to the caves where this mating takes place. His caravan is attacked, and he is the only survivor. He is rescued by a reclusive member of the Summoners. The days they spend together cause both to re-think many of their former notions about themselves, their world, and society, and the invading Eathers.
The most intriguing thing about this story is the characters. The focus is completely on Lyndel, the Leveler, and Aton, the Summoner. They are well-drawn and complex. The character growth is subtle and unfolds slowly, something not easy to do in a short work. Neither is completely likable, nor completely unlikable. The world is developed well, and the desolation and barren feel is quite real. The development takes place well withing the context of the story, without resorting to long passages of information that could detract from a short work.
This is a good short read. It will make you think about a lot of things, including how we see others and ourselves. I do feel that I have to give a warning about male-male adult content, for those that may want to avoid it, but the story is far more than the brief instance included. It is worth a read.