Kindle Vella is Live

And I have a book available there: There are 11 episodes available now (there will be 38 total for this run), and the first three are available for free. Since I know many of the people who read this blog are authors or artists themselves, let me run through a few things about Vella, now that is live: First, there is a dissonance between what established authors are already trying to do with the platform, and what the platform was designed/intended to do. Vella is supposed to be a serial fiction platform, not a straight book-reading platform. There are 11…

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“If you don’t push, you’re lazy.”

Around 15 years ago, I sat in on a little talk with Apostolos Paraskevas, a Greek composer and guitarist (among other things) working at Berklee College of Music (in Boston). I got to spend a couple of days hanging out with the guy, but the best thing he said came in that little informal talk with some composition students. One of the college students asked, “How do you compose music?” Apostolos got this odd look on his face, then he smiled slightly and said, “Asking a man how he composes music is like asking a woman how she gives birth.”…

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Auto-Allegory, or how Starfire is a Terrible Mother

I don’t like to give publicity to garbage like this, but it’s such an instructive moment for writing and understanding people I can’t help myself: Basically, this is about DC superhero Starfire’s daughter (Raven, I think), who is an angsty 90s-2000s goth girl who is also obese and a lesbian, and of course resents her beautiful mother. The surface level complain is obvious – this is bad fan fiction and denigrates established characters, pushes a gratuitous woke agenda at the expense of a good story, and is generally low-quality writing and art. Add to that the fact that it will…

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How to self-publish a book

Occasionally, I get messages from people trying to break into the “traditional” (as in 20th century) publishing industry, and they always seem to be under some distress. In fact, the messages often come off like the pleading of abuse victims, with authors talking publicly on twitter sounding like battered women excusing their abuser. Everybody is aware of how lame it is to “pay” an agent (in reality, they pay you, and you better hope they are honest, unlike Chuck Palahniuk’s agent, who left him broke) to have coffee with someone at the publishing imprint, who then takes years to make…

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Stop Seeking Magic Fixes Your Problems!

This is it! This is what my entire existence on YouTube has really been about, now that I stop to think about it: There is no magical secret that will fix what is wrong or make you good at something quickly. Sorry, folks, you can’t learn to play guitar in six weeks. You can’t write a guaranteed best-seller in two days with the “secret story formula.” You can’t become a shredded bodybuilder in six weeks by learning this “one diet trick.” STOP LOOKING FOR EASY SOLUTIONS. The more advanced you get in any field, the more you learn that “secrets”…

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Converging Energy and the Blessings of the Hermit

I’ve been seeing a bunch of posts like this lately: This is widespread across my YouTube subscriptions, and I’ve talked to a few author friends who feel the same way, either about content or just work in general. I’m part of this. Prior to getting sick, I purposely took a step back from YouTube to focus on drafting a new book. I figured it was a natural time because it was summer and, more relevant to this post, I just wasn’t feeling enthusiastic about turning on the camera. That lack of enthusiasm has persisted, and while getting an illness is…

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The Millennial Obsession with Harry Potter

It’s a curious case – Millenials, particularly in the “literary” and “writing” (I use those terms as ironically as possible) community are constantly referencing Harry Potter, particularly when it comes to some of the basic parts of the moral play, such as Lord Voldemort, who represents whatever current-year evil they happen to be personally obsessed with (usually just orange man bad). Why? Why so much obsession with a children’s book series, to the point where people put their Hogwarts house in their twitter bio? Yes, you are so Gryffindor, Miss Keyboard Warrior! Here’s my basic explanation: Mythological vacuum Social reinforcement…

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The Dangers of Social Media in 2020 – what you NEED to know as a creator or a user

Following up on some recent videos and livestreams regarding social media, here is what you NEED to know as either a creator or as just a user (or both) regarding social media platforms in 2020: Terms of Service are a red herring. Each platform represents a technical monopoly with little or no competition The core functionality is severely damaged I’ll expand on these below, but here’s what this basically translates into: There is no behavior pattern that can keep you from getting banned The “alternative” platforms are not alternatives at all The service is set up to NOT give you…

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How Short Fiction Died (and how it can come back)

If you want the deep read, check it out on JD Cowan’s blog: https://wastelandandsky.blogspot.com/2020/07/what-are-friends-for.html The ultra-short summation is this: Science fiction short fiction didn’t lose popularity like wearing bellbottoms, it was destroyed through the actions of a small clique of contemptuous busy-bodies who took over the scifi magazines and shifted their subject matter away from what was popular towards what they wished to be popular. The result, of course, was a loss in popularity over time, but process repeated multiple times, until brands which were important in the 1930s are worn like skin suits by people who hate what was…

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3 Easy Ways to Keep Short Fiction Short

This was part of a response to a free audiobook of one of my short works (about 12k) words, which you can listen to for free below. The comment was concerning how to keep short fiction short. Writing short fiction is really a different beast than writing long fiction, and the skills are a different set. If you want to limit length, here are a few easy things: 1) Limit the scope. A few locations, or one, rather than many. A few characters, or even one, rather than many. 2) Keep it to one plot. “A” story only, no sub-plots.…

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