Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hydraulic-Piston Legs Are the New Black

Okay, fellows. You know how women have long been subjected to unrealistic expectations about their bodies? Well, it's payback time. From now on, you are all expected to aspire to this:

Especially the strip-tease-by-ninja-moves.


Linky-Love: Great Interviews

Some excellent author interviews are happening today; please check them out! Both of these are interactive in that you can expect the author to participate in the comment threads.

Merry Monteleone hosts an interview with Erica Kirov, author of Magickeepers: The Eternal Hourglass.

Aerin hosts an interview with Stuart Neville, author of The Twelve (UK)/The Ghosts of Belfast (N. America).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Controversy: Part 3

Cancelled due to me chickening out. :-)

The topic was:

Is It Unethical to Have Children?

Feel free to comment anyway, if you would like. As before, please be polite and respectful of everyone else.

Interlude from Controversy

Writtenwyrdd has a great post up for How to manage your credit rating, tips for handling junk mail & telemarketers, and do not call lists.

A lot of the information is most useful to Americans, but it's still handy to know what possibilities exist, because your country might have similar safe-guards.

And who doesn't love the idea of sending junk mail back to the sender via their own postage-paid envelopes? *maniacal laughter*

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Controversy: Part 2

This is part two of a short series of posts where I'll voice an opinion that might be controversial and then step back and let others react to it.

Please feel free to discuss, argue, agree and disagree in the comments section. All I ask is that everyone to be polite and respectful to everyone else.


Could a "Freeware" Model of Sales Work in Publishing?

This post was inspired by a comment made recently by Sarf, and I thank him for the input that led me to consider this question. Here's Sarf's original comment:

I have some questions for your readers.

First the set up:

A person pirates your book by downloading a copy from the web.

They love it. Are you as the author glad or sad?

Now said person writes you a check for the cover price of the book and mails it to you. Do you care if they pirated the book or not?

My (abridged) response to this was:

If I wanted to give it away for free, that's easy to arrange; by trying to get published, it's implied I don't want to give it away for free. I'm not [doing this for attention or praise, so book-love is not enough.]

[As to the question of being paid after the fact,] I want money for my work, but at the same time, I believe I should control whether or not my work is for sale in the first place [thus payment does not erase the ire I feel at having my work taken without my consent].

Sarf is a programmer, so I understand why he's curious about this question. The model he suggests is in keeping with the one "freeware" works under: a computer program is put onto the web for anyone to download, and the creator asks people who like the program to either pay hir† or buy a more powerful non-freeware version of the program.

It's a model worth thinking about, because pirating is something we'll never stamp out, and there's a lot of wisdom to trying to find a system where pirating simply isn't considered a problem. The freeware model views "pirating" to be a way to win customers.

The author Cory Doctorow is buying into this idea. He has said that obscurity is the thing that threatens his livelihood, not piracy, and so he offers some of his books online, for free, and asks people to pay him if they decide they like what they see. To him, he's getting his work read by new people and hopefully winning loyal customers.

I will note that there's not much empirical evidence to suggest this is working, although there's also not much evidence that it's doing Mr. Doctorow any harm. The jury's out.

The last thing I'll note is how music piracy gave way to iTunes. Some people will always steal, but most of us are uncomfortable with that. When the music industry started offering their customers what the customers wanted (the ability to browse for music, the ability to download, the ability to buy one song instead of an entire album) rather than what the industry wanted them to want (the status quo), the public bought into that in a big way. Most of the people downloading music now are paying for it. A few years ago, that wasn't the case.

As eBooks become more popular, the publishing industry should be thinking carefully about what they want the future to hold. Enforcing the status quo could backfire, so thinking flexibly about how books are sold is a worthwhile endeavour.

† "hir" is a gender non-specific way of writing him/her. I like it; I'm usin' it.


What do you think? Is piracy theft, and therefore always wrong? Can piracy be harnessed as way to generate sales? Can the freeware model work for publishing? Is there another model that you think would work better? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Controversy: Part 1

I'd like to start some discussions, if I can, and I think the best way to start a discussion is to voice an opinion that might be controversial and then step back and let others react to it.

To that end, this is the first of a short series of posts where I'll do exactly that. I intend to release the posts daily, and I think I'm only going to do three or four for now.

Please feel free to discuss, argue, agree and disagree in the comments section. All I ask is that everyone to be polite and respectful to everyone else.


Should Freedom of Speech Have Limits?

As a tween-ager, I decided you should read/listen to everyone's point of view, then make up your own mind. Censorship, i.e. obliterating the words of dissenters, struck me as a bully's tactic, even at that age, although I probably couldn't have put that concept into very eloquent words then.

But here's the ugliest wart on the backside of freedom of speech. Hate-speech.

Hate-speech is at the heart of a contradiction that has always unsettled me. On one hand, I do believe in legally limiting people's ability to disseminate hate-speech. On the other, isn't it hypocritical for me to promote freedom of speech, then turn around and say, "but only up to this point"?

It's something I've long been uncomfortable with, and I only recently sorted out a rationalization that satisfies me. It runs something like this:

Freedom of speech exists to champion and glorify communication. Throughout history, humans have dealt with their differences in many brutal ways, but in our best moments, we deal with them by talking it out. When we speak to one another, we gain understanding, we gain knowledge, we gain tolerance, and sometimes, we even fix our problems. In short, when humans beings talk to one another, we become a society instead of a war-zone. I think that's worth glorifying.

Hate-speech, on the other hand, encourages people to stop talking and start hitting. It seeks to halt communication and prevent understanding. It undermines that which freedom of speech exists in order to promote. Thus, I don't believe hate-speech deserves to be protected under freedom of speech; City Hall should not issue digging permits to people who intend to remove the foundations of the city.

I'll defend someone's right to speak about even abhorrent beliefs, so long as they don't advocate silencing anyone else, including those who disagree with them.


What do you think? What limits should freedom of speech have, if any? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Yay! Books!

Yesterday, I bought a book. It wasn't the book I had been considering buying; it was an impulse.

Today, I went to buy the book I originally wanted. Eight other books came home with it.

Y'think I might be set for summer reading material? I may have gone a wee bit overboard, there.

For the record, my new paperback babies are:

- Summer Knight, Death Masks, Blood Rites, Small Favors and Turn Coat, all by Jim Butcher
Yeah, I'm on a binge.

- Odd Hours by Dean Koontz
This was the impulse buy.

- The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Because I'm the last person on earth to have not read it, and the peer pressure is just killing me.

- Acacia by David Anthony Durham - Aerin has dibs (see below)
On the strength of the Dynastic Queen's glowing recommendation.

- The Digital Plague by Jeff Somers - Merry has dibs (see below)
Because the only thing scarier than electric monks is Avery Cates.

- The God of Clocks by Alan Campbell - Josh gets dibs, and Sarf gets a copy of Scar Night 'cause he's family! (see below)
This is the writer's third book; his first two were rather jaw-droppingly amazing. This guy arrived on my author-to-watch-for list quite abruptly.

El Husbando chuckled at me when I came in today oohing and ahhing and chortling in anticipation over my latest acquisitions. Laugh now, buddy! You're going to be fighting Jim Butcher for my attention for at least the next month.


So. Anyone else got a book they're particularly excited to be sinking their teeth into?


Edit (Free Stuff): Ooh! Aerin gives me a great idea. Since I live in a eensy-weensy apartment and thus donate most of my books to charity once I'm done reading them, would anyone like to volunteer to be the charity this time?

I.e. in the comment section, put dibs on one (1) of the books mentioned above, and once I'm finished reading it, I'll mail it to you, anywhere in the world! Aerin gets first dibs on Acacia, however.

If you get picked to receive a book, I will need you to email your snail mail address to me, but we'll work out the details in the comments section.

Pageloads since 01/01/2009: