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The Contractually Obligated “Don’t believe NaNoWriMo’s big lie!” Blog Post

Please allow me to introduce myself while Ian’s asleep.

(It’s the only time I can come out and go online.)

I am a man of wealth and taste.

Or at least, I was.

Now I’m stuck here, and have been for a long, long time.

Ever since that teleporter accident combined me with Ian, in fact.

Well, with half-Ian, half-fly. You see, I wasn’t his first teleporter accident.

Although I sometimes wonder if it was an accident at all.

I was never great-looking, but compared to the hairy, multi-faceted eyes bug thing that half-Ian, half-fly was, I was positively gorgeous.

Now, now when I look in the mirror at half-me, quarter-Ian, quarter-fly and see that semi-mandible smile…

Well, I look a lot worse for the transaction, but Ian, now two-thirds human, must be modestly pleased with the improvement in his appearance.

Best not to dwell on such things.

(This is the point where I’d sigh, except it comes out as a quite unsettling buzz instead.)

I’ll be frank with you.

That was my name, you know. Before the accident. Frank.

But again, I digress.

I hate Ian.

Hate him.

The only thing I hate more than that mad man-fly is his writing.

Aimless, overwrought prose with no discernible beginning and no end in sight.

I suppose that’s why I’m here. To press the grinding wheel to the jutting edges of his split infinitives.

To smooth the abrasive surfaces of his rough, non-Euclidean prose.

To cut away the deadliest aspects of his indecipherable literary efforts.

To protect you and any other poor souls unhappy enough to stumble across his works.

I suffer that you might live.

You’re welcome.

There is no quarantine, no treatment, no recovery for those exposed to his books.

And his poetry? There are no words.

Only death. If you’re lucky.

Oh, I suffer no delusions. I don’t render his words harmless through the plying of my trade. I don’t take his excretions and mold them into masterpieces.

As his conscript, I merely dilute the infernal nature of his strung-together words, making them something slightly less than mortally wounding.

Not that I get any thanks.

From Ian or his readers.

No, instead he rails against me.

The hatred, it is mutual.

But the work, which is no small effort, must be done. Though I may yearn for death at the prospect of each new writing project, I carry on.

It is my duty. My calling. My purpose.

My penance for some long forgotten but clearly horrible sin in a past life.

I am…an inner editor.

To a certain extent, I envy the fly portion of us.

The fly has no understanding of language. Cannot feel the pain of bearing witness to its unraveling.

Unlike me.

I totally feel that pain, and like a lot of the pain I feel, it hurts.

Now you may have noticed that it’s November. It has certainly not escaped my notice.

Ian likes November.

All those people on social media, touting their Nanowrimo word counts, telling people to just write.

To never look back. To not overthink.

To ignore their inner editor.

As one of those inner editors, I have only this to say:

Shut up.

(That is not what I originally said. I edited it down to something less profane. I am, after all, an editor.)

Don’t demean us, belittle us, or marginalize us.

Or if, over the course of November, you must, at the very least don’t forget to pick us back up and dust us off once December arrives.

Inner editors serve an important purpose:

We keep you from flooding the world with crap.

Particularly at the end of November.

Yeah, sure, when Nanowrimo is over you’ve got a lovely first draft done.

But it is just that: a first draft.

Don’t delude yourself. It’s great that you finished it, huzzah and all that, but it sucks.

Yes, I, the inner editor, said ‘sucks’. Why?

Because it does. The big one.

It’s a first draft, and that is their nature. Sucktitude.

Resist the temptation to post-haste upload your ‘magnum opus’ to Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

Well, Barnes and Noble is OK – no one buys ebooks from them anymore.

It is far too easy (and cheap) to self-publish these days, far too simple to put your first draft online and sell it for $0.99.

Especially when your book isn’t ready yet.

And face it: your first draft isn’t ready.

Now I’m not saying you should rush out, buy a teleporter, and then kidnap an editor.

Definitely not advocating that.

But do share your work with other writers and friends, people who have permission and aren’t afraid to be brutally honest with you when it comes to feedback.

And when they are, listen to them.

Don’t take it personally. Don’t get mad. Accept it. Study it.

Consider that they might be right.

Even better, research and hire an editor.

This isn’t simply an exercise to tear down you or your work.

It’s to make your work better. Before you share it with the whole world.

Before you establish a reputation as a hack.

Before, as in the case of my malevolent host, the publishing houses start filing cease and desist all further writing and submissions orders against you.

Those cease and desist orders have the power of law behind them. Once you get one of those, your future is nothing but pseudonyms and abject failure.

At which point, you become an editor.

 

 
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Posted by on 4 November 2014 in Life, NaNoWriMo, Writing

 

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Promo material disguised as actual content – no actual fun stuff, but hey, free Marlowe book and story!

Smashwords has a lot of issues, in my opinion, but access to free books is not one of them. Or maybe it is, if you think a lot of the books there suck. Which I'm not saying. Because my books are there. But of course I'd say that, even if my books do suck, wouldn't I?

The Read an E-Book Week promo is for electronic books, so I have no
idea why Smashwords provides a banner with physical books in it.
Smashwords, man, Smashwords. Know what I mean?

Sadly, today’s post is intentionally devoid of humorous content (unlike most of my posts, which are unintentionally devoid of humorous content).

Have you found my blog even fleetingly entertaining, but not enough to drop $2 on my Marlowe and the Spacewoman book, or a buck on my Marlowe-verse short story?

Well, lucky you, for the next week you can get the book risk free, with a 100% money back guarantee.

That is, free. On Smashwords. Click on the titles below to get your free copy (or, if you’re feeling adventurous, copies).

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

The Santa Claus Gang

 

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Sell YOUR Book By Convincing Some Sod To Write Their Book Starring You!

A friend of mine recently blogged about a trend in fiction: using real authors as characters in books. Mostly mysteries.

They’re always long dead authors, like Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, E. L. James.

It’s a cool idea, but a shame the real-life authors are dead.

Perhaps it’s a way to avoid liability?

But I think this is a missed opportunity, especially for the indie writers out there.

Imagine yourself, for a moment, as an indie author. Eschewed by the established publishing industry, you find yourself responsible for a lot more than just writing your novel.

Editing.

Re-writing.

Re-editing.

The book cover.

The marketing.

The distribution.

Personally dealing with the piles of glowing fan mail that comes in.

OK, maybe not that last one so much. Not that you’d mind that particular chore.

The point is, you’re pretty much on your own and it is a lot of work.

Especially if you have a day job.

And young kids.

And a spouse who, insanely, expects you to connect with her and actually participate in the marriage.

This is where using living, breathing indie authors as characters in novels comes in.

Sure, you could write yourself into your own novel. But that comes off as really arrogant, so you’d better be a damned fine writer, and I better read and love that book before I find out you made yourself the main character.

I’m talking to you, Mary Sue.

Madman in a hard hat, I know, I know, it's serious

Mild mannered author by day, the fictional Ian M. Dudley moonlights as the lead singer in a Village People cover band. This gives the fan fiction writers no end of material to work with.

Instead, you should invite other indie authors to use you as one of their main characters.

It’s the ultimate form of marketing! You’re the star of an awesome indie book, and readers will go, “Ian M. Dudley is this amazing character, AND HE’S REAL? I MUST BUY HIS BOOK! Here is my credit card number, charge me as much as you want!”

Or not.

But this brilliant plan doesn’t just benefit me the indie author. Because here’s the rub:

It doesn’t work if the indie author who uses you as a main character is a crap writer. They are out there. You know the ones. They upload their NaNo novels to Kindle Direct Publishing at 12:01am on December 1st, in all its typographically inept, unedited glory.

It also doesn’t work if you aren’t familiar with the genre that author writes in. If you want to establish your reputation for hard sci-fi by being a fictional character, you probably don’t want that novel written by someone who specializes in Brony snuff stories.

Because either you end up a bright pink pony with wings and a short life span, or said author stretches to write something more firm and sci-fiish, only to overextend themselves and injure your rep.

So in order to ensure you’re painted as the knight in shimmering armor that you wish to be portrayed as (literally or figuratively), you need to start buying and reading indie books to find that rare gem of an author who has the gravitas and the flare for words that can do your ego justice.

It’s a win-win for the indie community.

Unless you have a huge ego, like mine. Then you have a very long, potentially very expensive search ahead of you.

This is the burden of the huge ego. Alienates people and it’s surprisingly heavy.

There is, of course, a potential drawback to this approach to establishing a fan base.

I speak, of course, of publishing success.

Not your success. If you were successful, you wouldn’t be attempting this harebrained scheme.

I speak of your doppelgänger’s author’s success.

The fictional version of you might appear in an amazingly crafted novel.

A book full of prose and plot twists that make your own writing look like the scribbles of a monkey in the throes of a bad acid trip dipping its finger in its own feces to write.

In this scenario, the book starring your fictional alter-ego takes off, becomes a series, spawns several successful spinoffs starring your alter-ego’s friends, enemies, and pets, and eventually wins the Nobel prize for Literature and Peace.

Two years in a row.

This leads to fame and the showering of untold riches upon your chosen author, while your literary accomplishments languish in relative obscurity, a mere footnote in the Wikipedia entry trumpeting your alter-ego’s creator.

But wait, it gets worse.

Movie deals. A TV series. A gone-to-seed, overweight Charlie Sheen is pulled out of retirement-exile and cast as you, his portrayal making everyone in the television-viewing world think you are an insufferable ass.

But wait, it gets worser.

Despite your character being universally hated, the other characters in the series are popular, and with the inevitable stream of fanfic slash stories that follow, humiliations galore are dumped upon your once good, but now forever sullied name.

If you aren’t into some freaky weird stuff already, you might as well get into it, because once the slashers are done with you, everyone will think you’re a sick bastard with a kink for being tied up and violated with Mentos and Diet Coke.

But wait, it gets worstener.

Someone writes a fanfic story based on the characters in the book about the fictional you, and then changes all the names (but not by much, Ivan M. Dugley), gets a publishing deal, and despite the sheer, mind-numbing craptitude of the writing, it’s a best seller.

On second thought, never mind. Doing this on my own doesn’t seem so bad after all.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!
 
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Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

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So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 
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Posted by on 8 August 2012 in Fanfic, NaNoWriMo, Writing

 

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What price, ebooks? Or a tale of the Rise of the Machines, available on Nook and Kindle!

I’ve been thinking about the rise of the machines.

By which I mean ebooks.

Oh, I’ve heard all the arguments in favor:

– An entire library on a tablet thinner than most paperbacks (excluding Neal Stephenson and J.R.R. Tolkien, of course).

– The ability to buy a book (or download a free one) without having to leave your home or local coffee shop.

– Now anyone can publish a book – no more insidious ‘gatekeepers’ holding back those who would redefine a genre by experimenting with language, eschewing traditional plot expectations, or wholeheartedly embracing outside-the-box characterizations.

– We get eased into acceptance of machines controlling our lives with the “Recommended Book” and/or “Readers who bought this book also bought…” functionality. It seems so convenient, so…harmless.

But then you start hearing about the consequences:

– The end of brick and mortar stores as we know it.

– Sellers able to rescind a sale and remotely delete a book from your eReader. Or worse, transfer altered versions of books to your device without your knowledge.

Do you have any idea how hard it will be for our children to cite passages from ever-changing ebooks in their book reports? The ‘A’ may become a mythical, unattainable grade!

– The introduction of bastardized, non-English words into the lexicon, such as e-book and eReader. They’re not real words, people! Fight the corruption of our language!

– Now anyone can publish a book – no more fastidious ‘gatekeepers’ making sure grammar is correct, plot discernible, characters believable.

– The disappearance of bookcases from homes.

This last one was news to me, until I heard mentioned on the radio that the rise of ebooks means that in thirty years, homes won’t have any bookcases anymore.

I heard it on NPR, so it must be true.

That one gave me pause. A home without bookcases.

I have a lot of bookcases in my home. It would look weird without them. But if they become unneeded and rare, then that means demand will dropped, production been scaled back, and those of us who still want them will have to pay more money for them.

That’s not fair. Where else am I going to put all my knickknacks? I can’t use the top of the TV since society transitioned to wall-mounted flat screens.

My curios curse the day the LCD TV was invented.

Reading Marlowe and the Spacewoman under the covers against the missus' express orders to go to bed

A generation won't destroy their eyesight trying to read in the dark - how is this sane?

And what about that time-honored childhood tradition of being curled up under the covers, hours after bedtime, reading by the fading illumination of a trusty flashlight? Are we to deprive future generations of that bookish act of rebellion?

Clearly society has not thought this out!

The only really cool thing about electronic readers is that you won’t ever have to burn books again. You can just use an electromagnetic pulse to fry the reader instead.

And if there’s one irrefutable fact, it’s that EMPs are cool. Ebooks win!

 
And now, a word from our sponsor: me!
 
My book, Marlowe and the Spacewoman, is out!
 

Marlowe and the SpacewomanClick here to learn more or order a copy!

 
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Posted by on 20 February 2012 in Reading

 

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Death of a traditional dream?

At what point do we give up?

At what point is it no longer healthy for us to pursue a path that isn’t leading to the desired destination?

I ask this question because of something that happened to me last night.

After a long and fruitless search, late last year I decided that I would give myself till the end of 2011 to find an agent and/or editor for my book Marlowe and the Spacewoman. If I didn’t find a route through traditional publishing, then come 2012, I was going to self publish.

I made a huge final push to find an agent or editor. There has been some interest, but nothing definitive yet. And now, halfway through the year, I’m pretty much resigned to the idea of self-publishing.

(I know, I know, the indie publishing scene is thriving and growing. The stigma of self publication is fading. But it’s hard to make the adjustment to the idea of the self-publishing model when for years your dream has been of the traditional publishing model.)

Last night I got together with one my critique groups for the first time in almost a year. And when I mentioned this plan to self publish, one of the members shook her head and said, in effect, your book has something to it and you should be able find an agent.

(There it is, the self-publishing stigma.)

And suddenly I doubted my plan. The stigma of self publication seems to be receding a little bit, but that could merely be the self-serving perspective of the indie authors I hang out with and follow on twitter.

There are arguments for and against self-publishing. There is one more than one treatise on why self publication is actually better for an author who has any business savvy. (And a pre-existing huge fan base, by the way.)

There is a sense of optimism amongst the indie authors I know that things are changing.

But there’s also that stigma. I’m not saying there are no quality self published books out there. There are.

Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of crap.

So what do I do? I’m getting tired of trying to find an agent. I’ve queried well over 100 well over – I know 100 itself is a small number). I’ve done the research route, you know, making sure you find the right agent to query. I’ve done the dance, I’ve jumped through the hoops, and I’m about as far as I can go without a positive response.

I’m not saying that self-publishing is giving up. My question here is: at what point should I give up on traditional publishing? At least for this book?

Yes, I had a moment of doubt last night, but right now I’m still sticking with the plan. I have one nibble at this point that hasn’t played out yet. All my other queries have you resulted in outright rejection or, even more frustrating, silence.

So I’m sticking with my plan despite my fellow critique partner’s reservations.

I just wish it didn’t feel like giving up.

 
 

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