You may or may not have seen Chuck Wendig’s joke about being able to create an ebook with 100,000 instances of the word ‘fart’, slap a cover of a baboon peeing into its own mouth on it, and self-publish it on Amazon:
This is true-ish, in that I can literally write the word “fart” 100,000 times and slap a cover of baboon urinating into his own mouth, then upload that cool motherfucker right to Amazon. Nobody would stop me. Whereas, at the Kept Gates, a dozen editors and agents would slap my Baboon Fart Story to the ground like an errant badminton birdie.
It was a joke, although not everyone saw the humor in it (as is true always of jokes). Nonetheless, @phronk went to a lot of effort to make the joke real, and because jokes can go viral it quickly gathered more reviews than the average book (most were 5 stars of course) as well as likely earning more money than most authors see in their lifetime (this is not a joke, and actually only needs to be a small number to be true – the long tail is long, folks).
Charles Stross threw in some commentary of his own. The book isn’t just fart repeated over and over; it’s broken into paragraphs and sentences with punctuation and so forth. It raised this interesting question:
If I take an existing novel and replace all the words with words of my own, retaining only the punctuation and pagination, is this plagiarism?
And this raises the converse idea: taking Baboon Fart Story’s structure, and replacing each instance of the word ‘fart’ with an actual english word to craft a coherent narrative!
There is much more of course, and it’s worthwhile reading here: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2014/02/baboon-fart-odyssey.html#more
Courtney Milan applies her mathematical eye to the earnings report website Hugh Howey released (link here):
Lots of people have written about this, and I will sum up what they say: The study has convinced almost everyone who already believed what Howey said in the report, and convinced almost nobody who did not already believe it.
This is an ambitious project that is likely taking a lot of work on the part of Howey and his mystery coder. They’ve aggregated a bunch of information that people have discussed only anecdotally up until now. That’s pretty cool. That being said, it’s pretty obvious to me that they desperately need someone with some kind of background in science and statistics and data collection, because right now they’re spending a ton of time sifting through data without any sense of how to properly quantify things.
It’s worth looking at, as a balancing act to the raw figures coming out of the report.
Original link here: http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/2014/02/16/some-thoughts-on-author-earnings/
A lot of lead time here, with an intriguing and difficult premise. Robert does point out though that he is buying stories as he goes along so don’t wait until the last minute (like I always do):
I am seeking short stories to a maximum length of 10 000 words with a minimum length of 5 000. All stories are to he set in the gap between galaxies, the immense darkness of space and all the frightening aspects and contemplation of billions of light years of unseeable entities can bring. These are not just first encounter ideas as the bent is strong horror memes within science fiction framing. This is not horror added the SF or SF added to horror by slight of hand. What is required is a true as possible journey into a place we cannot and will never imagine outside of telescopes and maths. This is science fiction, so no fantasy worlds please. Space ships and rays guns are fine, but if I spot a dragon I might not reply.
From Out of the Dark requires some deep thinking and frightful manipulations of emotion and events to create fiction that can cause a sweat and a gasp for air lost to vacuum.
Robert pays $75 per story and a contributor’s copy.
Read the guidelines here: http://www.ralan.com/listings/hosted/fromoutdark.htm
This popped around in my social media feeds enough that I finally read it, and I do love a good analysis of evolving grammar. It even includes a tumblr-sourced translation of Romeo and Juliet:
But what really interests me as a linguist is that doge speak is recognizably doge even when it’s not on an image at all. Let’s take a look at a particularly brilliant example from tumblr, although there are many shorter ones (check out this twitter or this subreddit):
What light. So breaks. Such east. Very sun. Wow, Juliet.
What Romeo. Such why. Very rose. Still rose.
Very balcony. Such climb.
Much love. So Propose. Wow, marriage.
Very Tybalt. Much stab. What do?
Such exile. Very Mantua. Much sad.
So, priest? Much sleeping. Wow, tomb.
Such poison. What dagger. Very dead. Wow, end.
If you are interested in language (and you should be, writer!), then this kind of analysis should whet your appetite for more:
The first factor is the kind of “baby talk” that we do towards our pets, known in the literature as pet-directed speech (yes, there are actual studies on this). It tends to involve speaking with exaggerated pitch and using simplified sentence structure. By comparison, the “baby talk” that we do towards actual children involves these two factors plus extra-precise articulation of sounds and is known as infant-directed speech (formerly motherese until some genius realized that it’s not only mothers who talk to babies).
The thing, of course, is that there is a grammar to the ungrammatical speech-that-is-Doge.
Read the whole thing here: http://the-toast.net/2014/02/06/linguist-explains-grammar-doge-wow/
It’s important not to walk past behaviours that are unacceptable, even if there is political fallout. So let me just say shortly, sweetly: the petition begging to let the SFWA be discriminatory because free speech wah is a load of sexist bullshit and if this is generally indicative of the author’s opinions then David Truesdale is a dickhead. I will concede I don’t know the fellow and he may be very nice in person, but we work with the material we have.
See, when you hear a man argue that it’s ok to have women treated as sex objects on magazine covers because men are also sometimes treated as sex objects on magazine covers, you have a nice window into the kind of world where the privileged think that swapping gender roles magically inverts the cultural power imbalance too, and if they (invariable men) don’t feel upset being objectified by strangers on the street then women shouldn’t either.
I’d take my feminist cap off now and stop being so ranty except, oh wait, it’s actually a non-removable cap.
As Natalie Luhrs explains, regarding the cover in question:
It would be one thing if this cover had any sort of relationship to the contents of the Bulletin, but it didn’t. It’s a badly done painting of a not that sexy, mostly naked warrior at severe risk of frostbite. And the Resnick/Malzberg column was about how hot some lady editors were in their bathing suits and nary a mention of their facility with a red pen. Objectifying and dehumanizing. No wonder people objected.
Just as watching politicians’ voting records is important to get a read on their character, I suggest that seeing who is actually signing this petition is important too.
There, that’s Literarium’s colours nailed to the fucking mast.
Read and shake your head here: http://radishreviews.com/2014/02/10/oh-dear-sfwa-bulletin-petition/
Just a quick post today, via ‘First Book’, which attended a conference in order to shine light on the lack of diversity in children’s literature, and highlighting their own goal in this space:
To expand diversity in children’s literature we are pioneering a market-driven solution. The First Book Marketplace is an online store available only to educators and program leaders serving kids in need.
There’s an infographic contrasting actual racial groups of low-income children (US-centric) and matching that to their representation in children’s books, and it doesn’t look great (and yes I myself am guilty of this, having a white female protag in my own children’s book).
Check it out here: http://blog.firstbook.org/2013/07/01/expanding_diversity_in_childrens_books/
I love zombies too!
We love the undead, but the term “zombie” can be interpreted a lot of ways. Successful subs will look outside the box. We’ve seen zombie plagues, zombies hordes, zombie hunters, and zombie super-heroes. What else have you got?
Characters matter. So does story. Would your story work without zombies? If so, chances are good we’d like to see it.
As always, we’ll consider all genres, providing they link back to the theme. So, zombie SF, zombie mystery or romance, fantasy or horror – it’s all good.
Big Pulp pays a token of 1c per word, up to $25 USD, and full guidelines are here: http://bigpulp.com/submissions.html