Showing posts from April, 2010

"You Shoulda Met Me Before I Was Famous"

Or so Mother Bennett said when we were in the middle of that bishop thing. Associated Content ran a piece on Propay vs. the Literary Underworld, quoting my previous blog post extensively. Unfortunately I guess Propay didn't comment, and there's already trolls! Apparently I'm just "bitter" about "being declined" and must've been rejected by Paypal too. Hee. For the record, in case anyone cares: Propay made it very clear in all our communications that we were turned down because of our content, not because of anything having to do with our business structure or credit, and our site is protected by an SSL certificate. Now, whether Propay has the legal right to reject a customer based on legally-protected content under the First Amendment is for someone smarter than me to say - I'm betting probably they do. But being legal doesn't make it right. That's why I stated it publicly, so my fellow entrepreneurs can choose with whom they do bu

Propay: the Internet's Chastity Belt

I cannot recall a recent time when I have been so angry. As you probably know, I started doing the speculative-fiction convention circuit about six years ago, upon the sale of my first novel. After a few years, I saw how silly it was for each of the authors to get a separate table in the dealer's room just to hawk our own books. It was a waste of space in the convention hall, a waste of time and money for us - you have to sell a metric ton of books to be able to make your costs back when you're solo on a table, and there's no one to back you up when you need a break from shilling your wares. So I started sharing tables, first with a couple of my close friends who also were doing the circuit, and then bringing in other authors we met at conventions. Soon I began carrying their stock with me on tour, in the hopes that I could drum up a few extra sales for them at shows they couldn't attend. They were horror, science fiction, fantasy… and the occasional paranormal roma

Miracle Girl

They say if you fold a thousand cranes, you can make a miracle happen. And we called her Miracle Girl. Jennie Sutton had cystic fibrosis. Her lungs destroyed themselves from the inside out, and by the time I met her and her mother, Selena Rochlis, she was already on the transplant list. The disease had robbed Jennie of an adult body, so petite and whisper-thin that at first I thought she was maybe 14 years old instead of a young woman in her 20s. Jennie and Selena came to St. Louis to wait for lungs, and after a long, hard wait, they were rewarded with that precious gift. Jennie's transplant went very well, and for a time, we got a glimpse of a Jennie without disease. She could walk without help, could go out without an oxygen tank. Friends took her to a little town along the Mississippi with famous levee-high pies, and Jennie relished the ability to walk about the town unaided, finally free. She was going back to college, she told me. Her dream was to work in early childhood

one for the memory banks

You never realize the perfect times when they're happening. Only once in a while, you get a little glimpse, a hint that this is one for the memory banks. Kiddo's violin teacher canceled his lesson, which gave me time to run by the store on the way home. No big. The boy went gallivanting about the neighborhood for an hour with his friends, so they can talk about boogers and superheroes, I will never know. I dug weeds out of the garden and cursed the rocks and nasty clay soil that grows nothing but junk weeds despite my best efforts. Then the boy returned - precisely on time, because he loses bike privileges if he's late - and rode in circles around the parking lot while I finished weeding the flower bed. Then I enjoyed the last of the sunset, sitting in the Adirondack chair as he played soccer with the apartment building's wall. The music rose in the deepening twilight, and when he looked over at me as Nickelback came on, I raised my hands in the awesome salute and

Anatomy of how a scene sucks

I spent this evening's writing time working on a critter attack on a diner. I needed expositional backstory on the two characters I'm introducing without having a visit from the Exposition Fairy - you know, the moment when the recruiting sergeant reads the soldier's personnel file to him so they can talk about shit both of them already know. Very exciting. But I'm also limited to my main character's POV. Outside of the interludes, I intend to stay in her head the whole book. So I put her in a surveillance van with her superior officer, and he'll ask her to tell him what she sees. Her observations will be mostly correct, because that's what she does, and we'll learn about these two through her eyes. Ain't I smart? Only it doesn't work out that way. Because it's an action scene, and Sara can kibitz all she likes but she's still stuck in the van. The van is never the place to be during an operation - ask any of a hundred flunkies, fr

This Is the Game That Never Ends....

...It just goes on and on my friend. The longest game in baseball history was Chicago vs. Milwaukee in 1984 at eight hours and 6 minutes. The longest game by innings was Brooklyn vs. Boston in 1920 at 26 innings, but there's an asterisk because they called it a tie when it got dark. 1920, you know. After that it's a tie: the Chicago/Milwaukee game above was 25 innings, as was St. Louis and THE METS in 1974. In 1971, a game between Oakland and California went 20 innings without a run before Oakland got a hit. In 1968, a Houston-New York game went 24 innings before seeing a run. So we didn't bust any records Saturday. Except perhaps in snark. But when Kiddo's godfather decides to show us a good time, he doesn't do it by half measures. Tom Collins is a reporter, New York native, my former partner and godfather to my son. We don't see enough of him, because he lives a whole four hours away, which is no good excuse for either of us. Long ago we arranged for

Steamposium Report

Yeah, it's a week late. You want punctuality? I'm a writer, dangit. FRIDAY I decided in advance that I wasn't going to care about making a profit this time. This one was for the boy, and for Jenny.* We hadn't gotten into the dealers room, so I was dependent on the kindness of non-strangers anyway. The boy was excited beyond measure to stay in a hotel, go to the City Museum and have adventures in costume. As usual, we didn't get going nearly as quickly as I'd planned. The show had been going for some time when we arrived. My stuff was already set up in the marketplace, which is a brilliant idea: a room with trinkets and products set up like a shop, but you don't have to stay with your table and the show takes a percentage for the charity. Excellent. That left me free to get settled and feed the boy. I can highly recommend the Clayton Crowne Plaza. The on-site restaurant is not bad and the first I've seen in a hotel with actually reasonable prices.

The Keyboard Prayer

Our program who art in memory HELLO be thy name. Thy operating system come, thy commands be done, at the printer as it is on the screen. Give us this day our daily data, and forgive us our I/O errors as we forgive those whose logic circuits are faulty. Lead us not into frustration and deliver us from power surges. For thine is the algorithm, the application, and the solution, looping forever and ever. Return. (c) Jeffrey Armstrong, 1985

Steampunk Week!

It's STEAMPUNK WEEK at the Literary Underworld! Our featured title this week is the new addition THOMAS RILEY , a wild steampunk adventure by new LitUnd author Nick Valentino. Amidst a twenty-year war, weapons designer Thomas Riley is thrust onto the front lines when a risky alchemic experiment goes wrong, embedding a foreign soul into his wily assistant Cynthia Basset. Thomas and Cynthia are forced to join with murderous sky pirates in a deadly race to capture the only man that can undo the botched alchemy: their sworn enemy. Alexis Hart calls it "fast, furious and full of swashbuckling adventure." Reviews call it a "fantastic journey" and a great place for readers new to steampunk to explore the genre. Steampunk Week is in honor of the first annual Steamposium convention, here in St. Louis this weekend. This is a nonprofit event, a steampunk gathering that will raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. As many of you may know, a dear friend of mine