Happy Independence Day!

Yup, I’m an American. And that means that once a year, when July 4th rolls around, I freaking love it.

Okay, yes, I know it’s tomorrow. But back home, when I was younger, it was a multi-day celebration (I believe it’s up to a week of events, now).

Anyway, long, roundabout way of saying no Being a Better Writer post today or tomorrow. It’s the 4th! Go light some fireworks, set up some boom. Do not light a forest on fire, though. Play responsibly, people! But if you’re American (or just want to celebrate the date of American Independence since we celebrate with lots of boom), have some fun! Get the grill out! Read a ridiculous pulp adventure! Whatever!

Oh, speaking of reading, though … Did you know that the Nominations for The Dragon Awards close in just 21 days, not counting today? That’s right, three weeks from today, the nomination period will be over! Which means that you’ve only got three weeks to check out all the different nominations you can make, form your own list, and hit submit! Don’t forget, whatever you nominate did have to release during the July 1st 2016 to June 30th, 2017 period though. After all, this award is for the new stuff released in the last year.

So, you’ve got three weeks to finalize your nominations! Get to it!

And enjoy your 4th of July. I’ll see you all later this week.

Upcoming Sale Reminder! Plus The Dragon Awards!

Just a weekend reminder to mark your calendar for the upcoming 24-hour Sale on April 19th! That’s only eleven days away! For a single period of 24 hours, every book I’ve ever written will be discounted. Even Colony! Here’s the breakdown:

One Drink: Free!
Dead Silver: 75% Off!
Unusual Events: A “Short” Story Collection: 50% Off!
Colony: 25% Off!

If you’re looking to fill out your collection, or perhaps to share one of your favorites with a friend, April 19th will be the day to watch!

Also, don’t forget about The Dragon Awards! Nominations are still open, and will be until June 24th of this year! Time to let the world know what you found to be the best book, game, show, or more of the last year! And, while we’re at it, Colony is eligible for nomination, so if you think it’s worth it, you can nominate it!

Anyway, enjoy your weekend, and mark your calendars!

Kindle Unlimited, LTUE, and Other Things

KINDLE UNLIMITED

So, I actually like seeing reads for my books on Kindle Unlimited. Especially for Colony. And not just because Colony is long enough that I pretty much make the same amount of money off of a KU read as I do a purchase. Nor because I like KU—which, for the record, I do; it’s as close as we’ve gotten to “Netflix for books” so KU readers, enjoy! But because it’s one of the closest available methods I have to tracking reader’s reactions to my work short of reviews, ratings, and sales.

See, KU gives me, the author, access to the daily page count totals for each of my books. Someone read 100 pages in a day? I can see that. Not who it was, nor when save a date, but I just get to see that someone’s reading my book.

The thing is, I can sort of track someone’s engagement with my books. And I can see how, over a few days, they get sucked further and further in, until reading Colony is all they’re doing. The first day, someone will read maybe 100 pages. The next day they’ll read 100 more. Then the day after that … they’re reading 150. Following that? 300. From there it turns into a sprint to the finish—we’re talking 500 or 600 words in a single day.

I love seeing these little patterns in my KU readers. It’s a good way to tell how readers are being engaged with my books—they’re getting caught up in the action as the book moves towards the end! Granted, I still get those who read through the entire 1100+ page work in a single day, which is also good and fun to see, but it’s pretty satisfying to “see” a reader go through this progression of “Okay, this is pretty good” followed by “Okay, this is really good” to “Drop everything I need to know how this ends now!

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The 2017 Dragon Awards Nominations Are Open!

So, remember those Dragon Awards last year?

No? Yes? Maybe?

The Dragon Awards are DragonCon’s answer to the glut of award competitions that are facing issues and difficulties, usually because they limit those who would nominate to select groups, thereby causing no end of problems. Which is to be expected when you’re restricting in some manner your selection of who is allowed to nominate and vote for the “best” of anything.

The Dragon Award’s solution? Anyone can nominate! Drop in your name and e-mail address, and you can nominate whatever you want for the awards! Likewise, that same e-mail will get a notice reminding of when it’s time to vote—which again, anyone can participate in.

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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.

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The 2016 Hugo Finalists

Well, the 2016 Hugo Award finalists have been announced. And … I can’t say the list is surprising. Good? I also can’t say that. At this point, the only topic of the entire set that seems to have any relevancy at all to the real world is the category for film, which looks to be a four-way battle between Fury Road, The MartianThe Force Awakens, and Age of Ultron.

And … that’s pretty much the only category worth caring about right now. The rest? Well, in case you’ve missed one of the other nominees, here’s one of the standout examples of what’s being voted on: Space Raptor Butt Invasion.

Yes. Dinosaur erotica. Cheap, written-in-a-day-or-two, dinosaur erotica.

Why?

Well, you may recall there’s been some controversy over the Hugo Awards the last few years. The Hugo Awards had become increasingly isolated and standoffish from their purported goals, turning into more of a personal award handed out between friends that pretended to represent “all fans of Science Fiction and Fantasy” than actually being that (we’re talking votes of a hundred total determining things like the “best” novel of the year). Which resulted, unsurprisingly, in the Hugo Awards going into a downward spiral of quality (hence why my local librarians both mocked it and stopped picking up books that were Hugo winners).

People got tired of it, noticed what was going on, and tried to do something about it. And the elitist group that had been using it as their own personal promotion platform dug in their heels. A game of tug-of-war ensued. And name calling. And accusations of sexism, racism … really, whatever this group of insulars could come up with. And once one party goes that far, well, it’s not hard for the other party to decide “The gloves are coming off.”

Enter a group calling themselves “The Rabid Puppies.” Long story short, after the insular group decided to pour liquid nitrogen over the whole mess by voting in lockstep to ensure that any category that didn’t have one of their chosen nominations on it was given “No award” and then twisting the knife by handing out literal butthole awards called Assterisks to those they didn’t want at the event, the Rabid group decided that enough was enough.

And now there’s a finalist list with Space Raptor Butt Invasion on it, the Hugos are facing a proposed rule change that only lets “Real fans” vote (Gotta represent all of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and the best way to do that is by mimicking Manor Farm, right?) … and, well, you have pretty much what happens when both sides act petty and dig in their heels. Everyone nearby shakes their head and walks away, disgusted. The mask has come off of the Hugos and … there’s not much to look at but a bunch of blatant elitists trying to keep their hands on everything.

So yeah, the Hugo Award is busily making itself as irrelevant as possible.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for an award that actually is attempting to live up to that “all of Sci-Fi and Fantasy” bit, you’re still in luck. Dragon Con has announced The Dragon Awards. Which, as a side, is a much better name for a Sci-Fi/Fantasy award. Who wouldn’t want to say “I won a dragon?

Anyway, after shouting for years “If you don’t like it, go make your own award,” it looks like a lot of those disgusted with the behavior of the Hugos over the last decade have finally done just that. No judges. No “real” fans. No social commentary. Just fans—any fans, no requirement to prove anything—voting on what they liked best from the year.

Yeah, you can sign up here.

So, 2016 Hugos? With the Dragons announced, I don’t really care anymore. After last years abysmal showing of narcissism, elitism, and more than a little racism, pretty much any other award couldn’t be worse, and … Oh hey, here’s a new one promising to not do all the things the Hugo has become infamous for.

Now, is there a chance that those same insulars will try and swarm the Dragon Awards en masse and kill it? Sure. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised. Assterisks, remember?

But given that it’s an award that for the moment is firmly out of their control, I’d bet they’ll have a much harder time of it.

So yeah. 2016 Hugos? Congratulations, you got what you wanted. You’re irrelevant now. You’ve convinced me. Posts from your most ardent insulars have convinced me. I, as GRRM so eloquently pointed out, and not a “real” Science Fiction and Fantasy fan. I don’t have enough money, and I don’t have the “right” ideals.

So … congratulations insulars. As far as I’m concerned, you’ve got your sinking ship. Keep it. I’ve left. The Hugo Award is a fading memory.

I’ll vote for the Dragons. Where I, and everyone else who calls themselves a fan for one reason or another, can vote for the things they love.

Goodbye, Manor Farm.