Shared – Scammers Break The Kindle Store

On Friday, a book jumped to the #1 spot on Amazon, out of nowhere; it quickly became obvious that the author had used a clickfarm to gatecrash the charts.

The Kindle Store is officially broken.

This is not the first time this has happened and Amazon’s continued inaction is increasingly baffling. Last Sunday, a clickfarmed title also hit #1 in the Kindle Store. And Amazon took no action.

Over the last six weeks, one particularly brazen author has put four separate titles in the Top 10, and Amazon did nothing whatsoever. There are many such examples.

Source: Scammers Break The Kindle Store

You Just Keep Pushing Me Away …

Just a little note today. Not really tied into work—though that keeps progressing as normal—but more just a thought that’s been on my mind over the last few days.

There’s a lot of back-and-forth out there over the debate between “literary” fiction and “genre” fiction. Go find a writing or reading forum online, hang out there long enough, and you’ll see the topic come up. And there will be lots of back and forth on it, with one side usually gaining the upper-hand simply by virtue of the make-up of the board you’re on.

Point is, this is a debate that’s gone on for a long time, and one that is still at the forefront of reading and writing both. Sands, it’s part of the whole debate over the Hugos, since the sides are divided over what makes “good” fiction. One holds that it has to be “literary” and that the “genre fiction” the other suggests can’t possibly be good because it’s “genre” (and that is, for some, the end of the “discussion”).

Now, if you ask people what “literary” or “genre fiction” means, you’re going to get a plethora of responses, again based on what camp you approach, so with that in mind let’s set a little bit of context for my commentary today: I am specifically talking in response to the concept that “literary” fiction is the “intelligent and thought-provoking” fiction. The fiction that asks the tough questions or inspires moral philosophy … and on the other hand, genre fiction is just straight-entertainment fiction with no extra redeemable value, especially compared to literary work.

This might seem harsh, but this is actually pretty much exactly how you’ll see some people explain it. So, where am I taking issue?

Continue reading

The Dragon Awards

In case you missed it, yesterday the winners of the Dragon Awards were announced and awarded.

What are the Dragon Awards? They’re a set of awards given out by Dragon Con, a Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Gaming con with over 70,000+ attendees—a pretty significant number compared to other cons out there. Still not heard of them? That’s fair. After all, this was their first year.

Yes, up until now Dragon Con has never had an award. But seeing the absolute meltdown going on over at the Hugo Awards over the last few years (where a tiny, frankly dying con has entrenched itself into the SJW blogsphere in an effort to save itself, insulting a rejecting anyone who didn’t agree with their narrative and taking steps to make sure only the “proper” people were involved, voting, and nominated), and hearing the cry from that same group of “Don’t like it? Go find a different award!” Dragon Con stepped up.

The result? An award that can both take nominations for and be voted on by anyone—anyone—with an e-mail address and an interest in the subject matter. For a con that is attended by over 70,000 people annually. Compared to the Hugo’s paltry attendance (most years below 5,000, actually) and rules and regulations that restrict voters to those who can pay a fee (and now, with recent changes, follow more stringent requirements), Dragon Con seems like a breath of fresh air.

Continue reading

Op-Ed: Authors and Self-Promotion

This post was originally written and posted August 6th, 2014, and has been touched up and reposted here for archival purposes.

Still off the grid in Alaska. This post has been uploaded ahead of time.

Let us imagine, for a moment, that we live in a different universe. This universe isn’t very different—in fact it’s shockingly similar. But there are a few key differences. Tiny ones, but tiny ones that lead to some interesting changes.

The key difference is that in this universe more authors listen to a particular bit of “advice” that gets handed out quite often. Let’s take a look and see what happens by following the life of a woman named Naomi.

Naomi is a writer. She’s written several manuscripts for a series over the years, but has been turned down by publishers for each one of them. She continues to write. One night she is at a party with her husband, and they happen to meet Stephen King.

Ah! A fellow—if famous—writer! The perfect opportunity to talk shop and share stories! Maybe even mention her own work. Except as Naomi thinks about it, she realizes that she shouldn’t bring up her own writing. After all, as people are so inclined to often tell her, “a writer shouldn’t promote their own work.” Disappointed but deciding that those people are right, Naomi stays quiet.

As a result, in this universe Stephen King never reads her manuscripts nor takes them to his editor. They are never published, and never go on to win numerous awards. They never sell hundreds of thousands of copies. They are never mentioned in Entertainment Weekly. Naomi Novik does not go on to write many more novels of historical fantasy and become an international success.

All because she listened to one of the most common bits of advice I hear being given to new authors: that an author shouldn’t promote his or her own work.

Continue reading

Casual Readers Not Welcome

Some of you might remember a post I made a few months back, during the lead-in to the whole Hugo Awards Fiasco, that asked the question “Am I a fan of Science-Fiction and Fantasy?

Well, to my surprise this morning, I have an answer.

According to George R.R. Martin, I am not. You probably aren’t either. Instead, you are a “casual.”

At least on the one hand, we can all nod and applaud for consistency. Martin’s comments about people not being “true” Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans was what prompted my first post on the topic, but now, in a comment saved by Dawn Witzke over on her blog, we have a very direct statement addressing Mr. Martin’s exact thoughts on the nature of things:

You’re making the same mistake that many of the Puppies did — assuming that more voters would make the award more relevant.

If it were only the number of voters that mattered, the People’s Choice Award would be more important than the Oscars. It’s not. The Academy voters are fewer in number, but they bring more expertise to the decision. Same’s true of worldcon fans. These are people who live and breath SF and fantasy, for whom “fandom is a way of life,” not casual readers.

Continue reading

Crossing Lines: How Far is Too Far?

*Sigh*

I was looking forward to writing this morning. On Beyond, not on this. But after the weekend’s events, and yesterdays response … I can’t just not say something. This has reached the point of insanity.

Change is rough. We all know that. Sometimes, people have a really, really hard time dealing with it. Especially when personal opinions come into it, and someone has to admit that they’re wrong. Or even worse, hypocritical. Looking at history, there have always been moments of shift that people have fought against. Some are good (suffrage) and some are bad (1930s Germany). Lately I’m getting reminded a lot of history.

Ever seen the film Remember the Titans? Disney flick, good flick, even if not the most historically accurate. Anyway, there’s a scene in it that was called to my memory a little while ago. In this scene (assuming I remember correctly), the daughter of the head coach is playing with the daughter of the assistant coach in the living room when there’s a smashing sound and a brick flies through the window. Attached to the brick is a hate message decrying the coach for daring to have anything to do with the community (or with football or something). Basically, it was a hate message, designed to scare and chase away. On a brick thrown through a window.

Continue reading