Monthly Archives: June 2010

The Month Novellas Took Over the World

June is Novella Month

June is Novella Month, according to the folks over at the Emerging Writers Network. What the heck is a novella, you ask? Jen Michalski puts it this way: “A novella is like the 13-inch single from your favorite band.” Only it’s more like a ~10,000–70,000 word story from your favorite author. Longer than a short story, shorter than a novel is about what a novella amounts to. Something you can read while sitting in the car waiting for the kids to finish soccer practice.

As an example, here’s a free PDF download of “Babe,” readable on any computer or device that, well, reads PDFs.

So you know what you’re getting into, here’s the obligatory blurb:

In a time of medical marvels and social revolutions, Demis Matheson regrets living his life as an unfortified, aged Fogy—until he meets a Babe named Chronos, who tests his notions of youth and beauty.

And yes, of course there’s sex and violence involved. Pointless otherwise.

Realms of Fantasy Preparing to Leave the Realm of Paper…again?

Realms of Fantasy magazine is (again) in danger of going under, according to a recent editorial by Douglas Cohen. The nitty gritty:

As some of you are aware either because you received the notice or because you read about it in various corners of the web, a subscription notice recently went out for RoF. In it, our publisher wrote that he wanted to make our subscriber base aware that, as things currently stand, subscription renewals have been insufficient to support the magazine.

The key phrase here is, “as things currently stand.” Like, if RoF pretends it’s still 10+ years ago and e-books are still a joke. Short stories and novellas are, as several readers have pointed out, perfectly suited for digital distribution. This is a great opportunity for plucky magazine publishers to jump on a market that’s growing in a time of shrinking newsstands, dwindling shelf-space. Print media is expensive, and the format is, in many ways, constricting, especially on a budget—and not only for publishers, but for readers, too. Many of us no longer have the space we used to in which to store our treasured volumes. We’ve had to cut the fat, selling or giving away what won’t fit. It would be a shame if we slowed or stopped our book spending simply because we have to choose between a year’s subscription to RoF and alarm clock space on our nightstands.

To that end, RoF, making readers aware of your situation and trying to boost subscriptions is a good first step, but don’t stop there. Get those issues accessible on the newsstands and on the Kindle, the nook, the iPad, etc. And for Spock’s sake, start reviewing e-books (relax, you don’t have to review mine). It wouldn’t kill you.

Pioneer the digital frontier.

(Hmf. It seems I’m closing my blogs with song lyrics now. New low.)

Facebook is Not the Internet

Facebook is not the Internet!

Wil Wheaton thinks you should delete your Facebook account:

I think that Facebook is evil, guys. I believe that Facebook is making gazillions of dollars by exploiting its users, and Facebook doesn’t give a shit about how its users feel about that.

Hey, that very well may be. In case it wasn’t perfectly obvious, kiddies, when you first signed up: Facebook is a business, the user base (you) is the product, and the advertisers are the true users. Facebook sells its product to advertisers. It’s the same with any other social networking site. That’s why I’m stingy with my personal information. You should be, too. Sooner or later, someone is going to buy or sell your e-mail address, your phone number, your screen name(s), your friend list. It’s not a matter of if but when. Kudos if you’re cool with that (and you may very well be). Otherwise, be smart. Don’t post shit about yourself that you wouldn’t be comfortable handing over to a random stranger on the street. Teenage girls: no when-and-where status updates.

I got suckered into the social networking thing back before MySpace hit middle age. None of my friends used e-mail anymore. To keep in touch with them I had to get a MySpace (and, later on, a Facebook). That’s still the case today, so, yeah, social networking sites are a necessary evil. Flaky privacy policies not withstanding, I don’t mind them that much except for two major bummers: the “You Have 0 Friends” paradigm—and apps. Apps are pure evil. If someone interacts with you via an app, you have to install that app in order to reciprocate. Pretty soon you’ve got two-dozen app icons littering your page. It looks like an icon truck crashed on the expressway, injuring dozens and spilling icons everywhere.

Then there’s the “You Have 0 Friends” thing. When you sign up with Facebook to keep in touch with a few friends or relatives, you’re actually obliging yourself to keep in touch with their friends, their friends’ friends as well. People see you on their friends’ friend lists, and they start sending you messages asking why you haven’t added them, too. So, you add your friends’ friends, and this gets you into that gray area where friends of friends’ friends start hitting you up. If you add one, you have to add them all. Otherwise the Ones Who Were Not Added will start complaining that you’re a selective biatch who’s too good to add certain people (namely Trekkies, even though you might swear that’s not true). But once you add these people, you never hear from them again—making you wonder why they asked to be added in the first place.

What an effing mess. You started out looking to create a nice little profile page, but you’ve ended up with a wall covered in the Facebook equivalent of graffiti.

Facebook may have replaced e-mail as the standard for a large portion of Internet users, but the two are not synonymous. With e-mail you’re communicating one on one and, possibly, getting shit done. With Facebook you’re…playing FarmVille. Personally, I don’t hate Facebook. I just wish Mark Zuckerberg would change the name to FarmBook and be done with it.

Facebook...laid to rest

The Oblivious Gamer

Meh. Eff the robot—Hyrule needs me!

This one wins cuteness points. On a semi-related note: I used to drop my Game Boy cartridges in the toilet bowl. Not on purpose, mind you. Let’s just say that sometimes you’re not at your most graceful when you’ve got your pants around your ankles. In hindsight, I have to wonder (and this still confuses me to this day) what kind of bowel movements I was having that I had enough time to become bored with game A, and so felt compelled to switch to game B. In mid-movement.