Heroic Fantasy Writers Featured on Roundtable Podcast

Hey Folks,

I'm pleased to announce that a recent podcast I participated in along with Tom Barczak, Chris and Janet Morris,and Uvi Poznansky just went live.  You can listen to it here. Dave Robison puts this on and he did an excellent job as our host.

Our topic was to discuss Audiobooks and how they fit in with the oral tradition of literature.  The direction of the conversation took me a little bit by surprise. I had prepared for a general discussion but the other panelists came prepared with specific stories about the audiobooks they'd produced.  I do have an audiobook, you can get it here if you're interested, but I wasn't really involved in the book's production.  The audiobook was put together by my former publisher Rhemalda--and honestly I haven't even listened to it (however, I'm sure it's brilliant and you should all download 50,000 copies).

The result of all this was that I kind of fell into the devil's advocate position throughout the discussion.  That wasn't particularly by design, although I tend to fall into that position quite frequently.  

I'd be curious to hear your reactions to this podcast.  We had some great writers participate.  Here are links to their Amazon pages:

And again, here is the link to the podcast, it's FREE so if you have a few minutes you might find it enjoyable.  Please leave your comments either on the Roundtable page or on this blog (or both), I'll be checking in on them!

Review: The Biggest Problem in the Universe Podcast

by Walter Rhein

I've been listening to The Biggest Problem in the Universe podcast recently and I thought I'd discuss a few things about it here.  The podcast consists of internet fratire writer Maddox and author Dick Masterson discussing problems.  Listeners then vote on these problems with the intent of categorizing all the problems in the universe in the correct order of relevance (ironically based on arbitrary voting--it's satire folks).

What I really appreciate about The Biggest Problem is that it has the appearance of being flippant but it's really a very intelligent show.  Also, it sits firmly outside the realm of mainstream media, so you are often exposed to very insightful comments that otherwise slip through the cracks.

Dick and Maddox have fallen into a very nice rhythm of sparring with one another.  A running joke is that Maddox brings in well-researched, serious problems and offers links to studies to support his conclusions, where Dick is apt to just mention something that happened to irritate him while he was on his way to the recording.  Dick's nonchalance tends to make Maddox flip out which is also hilarious.

However, the constant clash of the two hosts works really well because it's reflective of a common social undercurrent that pits measured, rational thinking against that of the inherently emotional response. Dick is perfect as a spokesperson for the emotional reaction, because I think he would be loathe to see himself as such.  However, Dick can be counted on to defend the belief that Coke from McDonald's tastes better, that we should be worried about Ebola, and that there is value in a $100 steak.  There's a gut feeling continuity to these positions that is a perfect contrast to the more analytical approach Maddox displays.

On a recent show they discussed Facebook.  I'd been thinking about their show when I penned my article about internet virality being a myth, and episode 27 offered some nice substance to some of my suspicions.  One of the comments Maddox made that was interesting was about how if you have a page or a group on Facebook with 50,000 followers, you can't guarantee that all 50,000 of those followers will see the things that you post.  In fact, Facebook will probably only send your post out to 10,000 or 15,000 of YOUR followers.  This is because Facebook expects to be paid to send your message to your fans even though you were the one who presumably had the clout to attract 50,000 followers in the first place (yes...it's outrageous).  There are some very interesting consequences to the fact that Facebook manipulates the content you see which you can hear Dick and Maddox discuss on this episode (and in some of the embedded videos on the page).

The information about how internet content is manipulated is very important for my friends who are writers that are looking for effective ways to promote their work online.  The simple conclusion is that Facebook is not the answer (you all suspected...now you know).

I believe there was a brief period where talent was actually rewarded on the internet. Articles or videos that people actually wanted to read or watch got attention. Now, however, the majority of the attention is getting syphoned to the content that has the most money to manipulate the system (again, this is why we have to look at 5 Kardashian articles daily). I still think that talent will win out in the long run...but it's still irritating to see the enemy having such success.

Incidentally, Maddox got his start as one of the internet's first satirical writers and managed to acquire an audience before the big money stepped in and made it more difficult for young start-ups to do so.  Have a look at The Best Page in the Universe to see his origins. I think the thing that I find most appealing about Maddox is that his work is not funded by some huge ridiculous bankroll with an agenda.  This is a case of a legitimate internet talent who has acquired a loyal following over time by producing a product of consistent quality. I also sense that he has greater aspirations with this podcast which he is explicitly stating--which is a good enough hook to keep me listening.

Lately, The Biggest Problem in the Universe has been sponsored by Audible.com.  For those of you who have books, there might be an opportunity for negotiating with Biggest Problem to promote your work (they haven't officially posted anything to that effect...but everybody returns an email if you're offering money).  The internet is filled with smarmy literary ezines that want to charge you hundreds of dollars for ads which have almost zero probability of generating sales that cover even a tenth of the ad charge. This is because all of these web pages use unsubstantiated numbers like "page views" and "clicks" to overvalue the worth of their publication (the only number that has any valley is the number of dollars that goes in your pocket--don't be fooled by BS). My guess is that The Biggest Problem in the Universe is one of the few places that would actually give you a fair return on your advertising dollar. The reason is that this is a legitimate show with some legitimate talent that is not controlled by some larger entity.

That alone makes The Biggest Problem in the Universe unique.  Give it a listen...it's not going to be for all of you, but the only thing I get on my radio is Taylor Swift and I'd rather drive a sharp pencil into my auditory canal than listen to another "artist" whose rich parents gift wrapped an artificial "celebrity" career (I'm also sick of American Idol cast-offs).

Oh, by the way, Dick Masterson once conned his way on to the Dr. Phil show (he does this satirical chauvinist routine that the great Dr. Phil was too dumb to take at anything other than face value). Say what you want to say about Dick, we can't deny he knows what it's like to be in the presence of pure evil.

By the way...I've got a problem for you: DVD menus!  Remember when you could stumble home drunk and plug a video into a machine and KNOW that your damn movie would start?  Now you have to wait around watching a dozen advertisements before getting to some idiotic, semi-functional navigation screen (nobody paid ME to sit through those ADS). This is especially annoying to stand around waiting for as your kids scream and yell to watch Marry Poppins or Kung-Fu Panda for the millionth time.  Then, right when you get it going, they decide they want to watch the thing in SPANISH, so you have to start the whole process over, this time wading to the set-up menu which probably won't work...  Endless nightmares, let the movie begin already.  Back to VHS, that's what I say.

"The Shadow of All Worlds" Has Been Released!

Shane Porteous has just announced the release of his latest project "The Shadow of All Worlds."  The book is available for FREE download over at Smashwords.

I've worked with Shane quite a bit. He's the guy who proposed the idea for the book that became "Nine Heroes," and he contributed a story to that anthology as well.  Shane is a talented writer and he does a good job bringing people together for group projects.

I contributed a story to his first compilation project, "The Battle of Ebulon" (I believe mine is chapter 2), which is also free.  "Shadow" picks up where "Ebulon" leaves off.  However, this project was a bit more ambitious than its predecessor.  Rather than just give sections for authors to write (and for those authors to do whatever they want with), this is a crossover novel featuring characters from a variety of different source material.  The writers were required to work together on a very specific outline.

As you can guess, this was a very tricky project, but Shane managed to bring it all together. This is another fun, creative way to show off the work of a variety of writers in a way I've never seen before.  Give it a look, and you might just meet some writers you'd be interested in reading more from (like that Fawkes Paz guy).

Words with Nicole Quinn author of "It's a Nightmare"

The Gold Stone Girl is set a million years in the future. Mina, a rogue DreamWeaver, is born in the Off-grid of Winkin City, the Night Mare’s one city world. It’s a world where human females are 3/5 human, and licensed as domestic pets. Mina is found inside the mossy womb of a willow tree, alongside lygaeids hibernating as larvae. Hers is a hero’s journey, as she lives the life of a human breeder, who discovers that in order to survive here, she must change everything.

What's your background with writing? 

I’m a WGA screenwriter. I’ve published some short plays, and I’ve written and directed a feature film starring Academy Award winner Melissa Leo and Emmy winner David Strathairn, along with Giancarlo Esposito, Sabrina Lloyd, Denny Dillon and Jason Downs, streaming everywhere. [note: The film is Racing Daylight]

I think of myself as a storyteller. The mediums change but the craft is the same. Stories are the way I reflect the human condition.

Who are your inspirations/influences? 

Mina’s story was born at the Women’s International Film Festival in Miami, Florida, 2008, (shameless plug: where my film Racing Daylight won best USA Feature).

The trailer for the winning International documentary featured hundreds of colorful cloth bundles clogging a two river swirl, somewhere in India. The crawl on the screen informed us that the bundles were the shrouded ‘bodies of castoff baby girls’.

It was then that I wondered how I might tell this story, so that when the mother throws her bundled baby girl into the water, it’s to save her life. I wondered how we might use this story to start a deeper conversation about the gender war escalating around us everyday.

I’ve always been a huge fan of epic hero’s journeys, so JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien, JM Barrie, people with initials in lieu of first names, seemingly. I like stories with larger moral meaning, something more than shoe leather, (running), and explosions. 

What was it like working with CreateSpace

It was painless and user friendly. I used ebook Launch <team@ebooklaunch.com> to format, and am happy with the clean, professional files they delivered in mobi, pdf, and for print.

Who was responsible for the cover/book design? 

The artwork is a painting of my mother that my sister rendered when she was 5. My daughter, Caitlin, is a brilliant artist, (graphic and studio). She’s responsible for the cover layout and design of book 1, and she painted the portrait for book 2 when she was about nine. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for the final book of the trilogy. I wanted the cover to be playfully in your face. Something that says “look at me!” and when you do look, you’re not sure if it’s whimsical or creepy. 

What are you doing in terms of marketing/publicity? 

I have very little money to throw at marketing, so I’m guest posting, using a cyber pr firm to help generate blog/amazon reviews, reading at local book stores and libraries. I clip blog and Facebook post on subjects centered on the world of my book, female oppression, rape culture, pollution, conspicuous consumption,gendercide, honor killings, fgm, the list goes on. I’m also reaching out to a company that crowd sources visionaries, in the hopes that a humanist movement qualifies.

Do you have any stories from book signings/radio interviews/etc.? 

Reading at book stores and libraries, even for book groups, has been a good way to set the work in a larger contemporary context. It affords me a soap box for the issues I’m rigging large, and in your face, and it also guarantees a few sales. 

I narrate audiobooks, so it’s fun to perform the excerpts as samples for those who might prefer an audiobook

Shameless plug: I won the Harper Audio contest to read on Neil Gaiman’s 10th anniversary full cast version of American Gods. I also read with Neil live, last April at Bard College’s Big Read of Housekeeping.

What is the name of your blog, and what can readers expect to find there? 

I clip blog and Facebook post, on subjects that interest me, which are also themes in the novels, female oppression, rape culture, pollution, conspicuous consumption,gendercide, honor killings, fgm, but also magic, nature, and dreams. 

What projects do you have planned for the future? 

The Gold Stone Girl, Book 2, Disbelief, is due out this month, November 2014. Then I’m on to a polish of book 3 for late spring publication. After that, I start scripting the The Gold Stone Girl mini-series. Melissa Leo and Adam Lefevre as Bubba and Dee-Dee? Works for me!

Is there anything else about you we should know? 

The books deal with a patriarchal rape culture. These books are not traditionally YA. However, I’m an advocate for early sex education, and basic social awareness, so buyer beware, there is sexual content and violence, just as there is in the world today.

I have a guest post on kick-ass heroines here.

Thanks for stopping by Nicole!

Harren Press Announces the Release of "In Shambles"

Harren Press has a new book out.  They recently did the re-release of my novel The Bone Sword which has been selling quite well.  The new book is titled In Shambles with the subtitle "A Scarlet Nightmare Book 2."  The first "Scarlet Nightmare" book was Death Awaits.

The writing of R.A. McCandless is featured in this book and I know from his work in Nine Heroes that he is a very talented author. I also know Roy C. Booth from his work on Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Man-Made Vacuum, he's also very talented.

Harren is a fun press, so please give In Shambles a look.  Thanks!