Saturday, October 6, 2012

26 Story Ideas - Part 1/3

Last Monday I shared an article about Theodore Sturgeon complaining to Robert Heinlein that he couldn’t come up with any good ideas and was suffering writer’s block. Heinlein responded by airmailing him a letter of encouragement, twenty-six story ideas, and a hundred bucks.

Someone commented on my Facebook that she would give up the hundred bucks in exchange for the ideas. She was in a similar drought. I offered to come up with twenty-six ideas for her, and midway through brainstorming them realized I might as well share them with everyone. Today, Sunday and Monday, I’ll be posting the complete list of twenty-six ideas.

These are not Creative Commons; you’re free to make money off of them if you can. If you’d credit me, I’d appreciate it, but that’s it. If you’re in any sort of creative drought, these are meant for you. Cheers.

1. Dragons can only sleep on precious materials. After falling on hard times, one dragon opens up a bank, using her ferocious reputation to guard your valuables - in her mattress.

2. One old-cat politician was crucial to driving through legislation that allowed citizens to be arrested and held without explicit cause or council, and to be interrogated and imprisoned indefinitely. After he loses his bid for re-election, he’s jailed under the same law he enacted.

3. On a slow news week, a gaggle of journalists create a bet on who can report the most believable (yet outrageous) made up story in his/her paper/website/blog. One journalist’s story discusses secret societies and attracts a conspiracy theorist who thinks she’s on to something, and begins stalking her to get the information she doesn’t really have. Her friends think this is just her trying to win the bet in a long-con.

4. Egypt, 2011. She is the most amazing girl he’s ever met. Devout to her own faith and outspokenly political, she disowned her own parents, has crossed borders to help doctors and risked being stoned. Today he was going to finally propose marriage to her. Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for the civilized world, today was the beginning of the Arab Spring in Egypt. As a political revolution unfolds, event after event makes it harder and harder to talk to her alone, much less to make his proposal seem appropriate. How can he get her attention? And at the potential birth of a revolution, does one person’s love even matter?

5. A former boy-hero wizard washes out in his teens and spends his adulthood with those who can't do: teachers. He’s become faculty at the same school he was once a hero at, educating the next generation and taking out his alcoholic jadedness on them.

6. The assistant designer on a big war-shooter videogame is dissatisfied with his company’s project. It's unrealistic, turning combat into entertainment rather than the tense horror that all the veterans he interviewed described. Across a series of visits to a shooting range to test the "feel" of various firearms, our designer's grip on reality begins to slip, particularly as he sees opportunities to realize the horrors of war in the city around him. It'd almost be easier to make reality a game, he thinks...

7. A brother and sister inherit a peculiar telescope from their estranged uncle. They can see all the way to Pluto through it, which the sister didn't think was possible. Stranger still, when they stick their hands in front of it, they can touch what they see through the lens. At first it's fun and games, knocking Saturn out of orbit and using Cheetoh dust to create a meteor shower. But as the brother takes these games too far, his sister questions how much they can safely change in the cosmos. His newest idea chills her: to see what happens if they blot out the sun.

8. The first sentient computer program is given a job: psychoanalysis and drug dispersal. Using a lack of empathy that would make Dr. House blush, it's assigned to treat the anxieties of astronauts on the first manned mission to Mars. Deep space dementia is worse than anyone expected, though, and if the program can't pull the astronauts out if this, it will have to pilot the ship. That's a problem for the program, as the one task its always struggled with is how to talk to other computers.

9. Tomorrow, everyone who previously lived on earth wakes up living upside down in the clouds. All our structures are resting in the sky, and whenever cloud cover breaks, the people and buildings “fall” upward into space. How did we get up there? The answer lies several thousand feet “up” – on earth’s surface. But how do we get down there before a clear sky kills us all?

Jump to ideas 10-18.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Year of the Inkanyamba

Inkanyamba linocut by Kate Rowland

Foreword: T.S. Bazelli introduced me to this beast. The Inkanyamba is a South African folk monster, reported to be a giant eel, possibly with the head of a horse or dog. Its anger is said to conjure storms. It’s only ever seen at Hosick Falls in the summer – which led me to ask what it does for the rest of the year.

Also, anyone who knows how the equator works will recognize that these dates are all wrong. I've "translated" them to reflect how the northern audience experiences the seasons, though this is about the exact opposite of the South Africa seasons.
This story is dedicated to T.S., and to homesick giant eels everywhere.

September 4th:
Went to sea today. Will miss Howick Falls, but it's good to stretch again. Inland waters grow cramped. And while the Falls are pleasant, I never have a better meal in the year than snagging flying great whites off the coast.

September 12th:
A megalodon invited me to a party on one of the four corners of the world. It's that part of the map where all the dragons and sea serpents live. Those sea serpents are total attention whores; it makes no sense that they're still cryptids. Two of them were pretending to be lesbians just to catch the Kraken's attention. The seven seas' social circles can be depressing.

October 5th:
Wearied at last of that undersea kegger, tripping the currents north to Atlantis. Only place you can hear yourself think, because no other monsters live in those ruins. They call it "quaint" and "played" and "touristy." The tides of popularity recognize not real culture.

October 11th:
I wish I could take in a play at Atlantis's amphitheater. No mermaids left to perform. Damned Japanese poachers are industrious. Looking forward to visiting their home surf.

October 26th:
Got drunk and paddled around Atlantis like it was Venice. Italian drinking songs carry well underwater.

October 30th:
Got drunker than I anticipated and wound up in the real Venice. Scared the shit out of some janitors. No one will believe them, but there's an off-chance their story will be optioned as a SyFy Original Movie of the Week. For the record, I didn't eat any of them.

November 20th:
Just barely made it to Greenland on time. Made a nocturnal appearance on a whale watch; the guide had no idea. I think she called me a beluga, so I conjured a freak squall and soaked her. Almost time for sleep.

November 23rd:
Icing up well. Taking longer than it used to. Am I getting fatter, or is this global warming?

November 25th:
Can feel the chill in my blood now. Will hibernate a long time. Wonder how many skeptics will debunk my presence at Howick Falls while I'm dreaming under a glacier.

March 1st:
What day is it?

March 15th:
It's too damned early.

April 9th:
You know that point at which you've fallen back asleep as many times as you can, and you toss and turn in your bed, and hog the covers, and keep closing your eyes telling yourself you just want five more minutes, when your pulse is clearly telling you it's time to get up? Well I don't know anything about that because I'm not human.

April 10th:
I ate a human today. He'd already drowned, but I needed to reacquire the taste.

April 28th:
Thought about taking the African/Indian route. Never liked Marco Polo. Going north of Russia instead. Making good time for Asia.

May 8th:
This day feels important. Can't tell why. Been swimming too long.

May 11th:
I think I passed Japan a few days ago. I get a little absentminded when I travel south. Caught the currents, though, and found a whaler route. Let one ship spot me, guy lost his shit. Have not interfered yet. They don’t know what’s coming. It’s spring time for Inkanyamba!

May 12th:
The first catch of the season is always the best. Whaling ship was pursuing the sperm whale for two hours. Their harpoons kept failing to take, and she kept diving. On her third dive, I entangled her and she never came up. Those humans were so confused. Radar kept showing she was down there - they didn't realize that blip was actually me. I love sperm whale almost as much as I love confused poachers.

May 20th:
Think a conservationist photographed me. Asshole was protesting the whalers. Had to eat his whole boat, now I have a steel rudder lodged in my colon. Think I'm subconsciously making it hail out of impotence. Thanks, ecology

June 13th:
It's not that I'm tiring of sperm whale; it's that they're almost extinct. It's not that I'm tiring of confused whalers; it's that they all taste like beer and secondhand coats. Every year I get this way. What am I doing with my life? This isn't existentialism, of course. It's...

June 14th:
It's homesickness. I miss its waters, pregnant with heat specific to South Africa. All humans are skeptical, but home-humans are my skeptics. All locales have pollution and wildlife, but if I'm going to tread water, I want it to be waters I've helped pollute. Even giant eels get homesick near summer.

June 26th:
Passed the Indian Ocean in almost record time. Am in awesome shape; passed some sea serpents who absolutely whistled as I went past. Sounds like bawdy whale songs. Will be home and terrifying drunk locals in no time.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: The Presidential Dance

It was a fortnight into the worst depression our country had ever seen. The people pined for the days of single-digit unemployment, or for when they only lost their jobs to machines, for which a few of them would at least be paid minimum wage to upkeep. It drizzled in Washington, D.C., that night as the President was to announce a way out of the devastated economy.

He addressed the nation from behind the desk in the Oval Office. He greeted his fellow Americans, then was silent for a moment. He reached into a drawer no one could see and produced a golden-brown hamburger roll. With millions as a captive audience, he split the roll to its seam and set it on its edge, on top of a desk that had witnessed all the legislation of the last quarter-century.

The President pinched either half of the roll in each hand and shuffled them, prying them apart, then mushing them back together, always making the roll bob as though to some unheard tune. This went on for eighty seconds, after which the President placed the roll to the side, folded his hands and thanked the nation for their understanding. The camera faded to black.

The nation was baffled. Every network hosted pundits trying to decipher what he’d meant or how he’d lost his mind. It was six hours, twenty minutes and three seconds after his broadcast that the revelation came. It was on a comment on official Presidential Youtube, via an anonymous commenter. The comment read: “How do you fix a busted economy? He made abundance.”

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Books That Shaped How We Saw Fiction

A serious man visiting the Folger Library, via Library of Congress

A couple weeks ago I asked you what books changed the way you saw fiction, and particularly how those books changed it for you. Nineteen writers and readers answered the call, reflecting on fiction from multiple continents and a broad range of genres. It's a fascinating array. 

Here are their words, followed by a few of my own.

Karen Wojcik Berner: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
"Pride and Prejudice" changed my life. I had never identified with a fictional character before. Most were fighting mythical monsters, wars or governments, or having larger than life adventures that to me, at age 15, were not plausible. Elizabeth Bennet was witty and sassy, and her cat-and-mouse game with Mr. Darcy captivated my teenage heart. This felt real, whether it took place in the eighteenth or twentieth century.

Janet Aldrich: Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
"The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" by Agatha Christie. It was the first time I really understood that writers could be magicians and completely misdirect the reader. I will NEVER forget how completely gobsmacked I was by the ending the first time I read it (and Edward Wilson, you can take your snarky little response elsewhere, fold it and -- (ahem, sorry for the digression)). I've read mysteries for years, and was accustomed to the _detective_ keeping things from the reader, but never this. I've never taken anything completely for granted since.

Monica Marier: Terry Pratchett's Guards! Guards!
For me Terry Pratchett's "Guards! Guards!" changed the way I saw Fantasy genre. I loved Fantasy, but I couldn't figure out why Fantasy genre was getting so stale to me and it was only when after reading Terry Pratchett's work that I realized all those other authors were always telling the same story: a prophecy, some pointy ears, a wise mentor, maybe a dragon, slap in a generic everyman "chosen one" who tries to fight his destiny, and Bam! Done! Pratchett's books especially those featuring the crime-drama stylings of Sam Vimes, taught me that fantasy could be so much more. The Elves and Wizards and Dragons are just a backdrop, a medium, for telling real stories about real people that readers care about. You lose sight of your characters and make them shoddy copies of Tolkien characters and it ceases to have a heart.

Robert Cole: James Joyce's Ulysses
It may seem a cliche now, but James Joyce's ULYSSES did it for me. In the process of finishing my second degree, I did a course in literary theory. The entire second half of the course was ULYSSES. We were assigned the Bloomsday companion, but I actually was assisted by an unabridged recording of the book by a Joyce scholar. It had the effect on me in the way it did so many others-- I was startled and I knew I'd never read the same again. In the end, I felt like a better human being because Joyce managed to fill the pages with not just the stuff that usually makes up our stories, but the mundane, the boring even. I didn't feel in charge, it wasn't all filtered through me. The book existed without me. Having spent so much time with it, I cried when it was over. I think the last few pages are the most beautiful words put together in text. I felt like the whole thing was a call to every other writer to think in new ways. Sadly, I think the only person to answer the call was Joyce himself, in FINNEGAN'S WAKE.

Katherine Hajer: Albert Camus's L'Etranger
I'd have to pick L'Etranger by Albert Camus. The spare storytelling was a revelation -- up until then, I'd always been taught the more educated and intelligent you were, the more complex and verbose your sentences should be. The story itself is more like a thought experiment -- the "what if?" aspect is always very close to the surface, yet it's never cloying or pious. The subtlety of Meursault's transformation was a revelation too. To this day I sometimes use that book as a kind of litmus test. Whether a person remembers the withdrawn, disaffected Meursault from the beginning or the passionate Meursault from the end often tells a lot about them, I find. In the same way, L'Etranger has turned into a yardstick for both prose and character arcs (not so much plot). I've tossed aside a lot of highly-acclaimed books because their pretty, pretty text just reads like self-serving wankery after L'Etranger.

Ross Dillon: The Short Fiction of Jorge Luis Borges
Borges’s short fiction. He creates, for me, unparalleled depth with a minimum of language. His short stories stand out as some of the absolute best, creating incredible worlds and atmosphere, and yet they're usually only a few pages. I don't know of anyone who does it as well, or really who approaches that skill.

Carrie Clevenger: Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. It was my first reveal into multicultural fiction and didn't include fairies or dragons. It was just a simple story whose characters opened my eyes to a whole new literary world. My teacher in 7th grade (if I remember correctly) loaned it to me out of her in-class library and ended up letting me keep the copy when not only did I take so long returning it, but brought it back obviously well-read.

Jai Joshi: William Shakespeare's The Tempest
I think probably The Tempest by William Shakespeare had one of the most profound effects on me. I studied it while at high school. It made me realise that every character, even those who are considered not important or powerful, must have a voice and a soul. Caliban is a savage and Ariel is a spirit and yet they both long for freedom. It stays with me to this day.

Angie Capozello: Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land
Stranger in a strange land is the first book that really peeled my mind open and made me rethink how i look at things. Had mostly read fantasy up till then, that got me hooked into sci-fi. You could actually see the shift on my bookshelves, from stuff like Magic Kingdom for Sale to books like Dune :) Now of course it's all a mish-mosh, i read all sorts of things but that was the first big shift in my reading tastes.

Sean: Joe Haldeman's Forever War
Forever War by Joe Haldeman is some hard, sociological science-fiction that uses war as a backdrop and interplanetary travel to really examine how we humans treat one another. It was my first encounter with some real profanity in a book. I probably shouldn't have been reading this when I was twelve.

T.S. Bazelli: Guy Gavriel Kay's The Fionovar Tapestry
The Fionovar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay - It was the first book that made me cry. I never realized before that point in time, just how much a book could make you feel, or how good writing could make characters feel like real people rather than caricatures. It was also a lesson in writing satisfying endings. I think it changed my world view too, that and his later writing, how I thought about love, relationships, and mortality.

Danielle La Paglia: Kelley Armstrong's Bitten
Bitten by Kelley Armstrong. The depth of her characters (even minor ones) and the backstory she wove into the narrative (without info dumps) made me really stop and think about my writing. But what I struggle with most is narrative voice. I tend to describe things from a distance and I've been working this last year to infuse the natural voice of the character into my writing. The book that made me realize that was A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang. Her first paragraph hit me in the gut and shouted "That's what you're missing!" That's the book that made me rewrite my entire YA ms from 3rd to 1st person POV. To study this more, I went back to Kelley Armstrong's books. Because her series is written by several narrators, the series itself has is a lesson in voice. I can recognize the distinct narrative voice of each character and that's impressive (to me at least) since she has stories written by over a dozen different characters.

Max Cantor: C.S. Friedman's Black Sun Rising
Black Sun Rising, by C. S. Friedman, and its two sequels which comprise The Coldfire Trilogy. In these books, Friedman's characters play with the foundations of so-called "magic", altering the very physics of their world as they go along, and as a reader I felt like I was playing with the foundations of so-called "fantasy"... Friedman's books were my catalyst for realizing that "nothing new under the sun" is bunk. You can trace every single element in The Coldfire Trilogy to something else, just like you can with most fiction, but the juxtaposition is what makes it unique and compelling. They also gave me a healthy appreciation for believable villains, which has sadly done more to detract from my enjoyment of other work than anything else!

Randall Nichols: Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy
Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne. There aren't many books that so significantly changed the way I looked and thought about the world around me, and the world in general. And as a writer, I don't think you can have anything that sticks with you that much, and shifts your perception of the world around you, without changing the way you look at fiction. Especially for me, where so much about my own writing and what I'm interested in is about folks interacting, and I think Shandy perfectly captures the limitations and hangups we have when dealing with people other than ourselves.

Eric Krause: Clive Barker's The Damnation Game
Clive Barker's The Damnation Game showed me what a true horror story could be. I haven't read it in years, so I have no idea how it holds up today, but to my tween-young teen mind, that made me appreciate horror fiction as well as all the other speculative genres.

Amanda Nazarian: Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun
The Book of the New Sun and The Wizard Knight both literally changed the way I saw fiction: I saw the stories so vividly in my mind that I often confuse those reading memories with actual events or scenes from movies, and they expanded the colors and landscapes of my dreams.

Tom Gillespie: Alasdair Gray's Lanark
I first read the novel in 1981, and it completely transformed my world view of what the novel can and should achieve. Lanark defies description. It combines magic and hyper realism with science fiction, mysticism and elements of fantasy. … The book is beautifully illustrated by the author throughout, which serves to intensify Gray’s assault on our rationality and our imagination. For me, Alasdair Gray’s magnificent book re-defined the city of Glasgow in much the same way as James Joyce altered our view of Dublin and Ireland. He is a revolutionary writer who tackles big themes and expansive ideas, and like William Blake before him, he is often misunderstood and under-valued. And his visionary masterpiece continues to inspire me to take risks in my own writing and remind me of the labyrinthian possibilities of language and the human mind.

Joshuo Londero: Albert Facey's A Fortunate Life
It was only originally written as a memoir by a man with little education. I think his daughter found it and had it published after his death. It's remarkable to me, not only for the fact that a man who suffered incredible hardship still considered his life fortunate, but that his simplistic and even flawed writing style could reach the hearts of nearly every Australian who read it. I am tempted to call it Australia's Grapes of Wrath, but it is so much more than that.

Sonia Lal: Lois Lowry's The Giver
I may have written an alternate ending to The Giver. Something about the boy and small child living by themselves in the woods, like in My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (another Newbery award winner book). Years later, in high school, I remembered the book and took it out again. By this time, I was writing my own stories and trying to figure out why they sucked. This time I positively amazed at the way Lois Lowry showed how the characters only saw in black and white. One character sees a red apple and can’t figure out what the color red is. How Lois shows that, how she ends it and hints at frostbite, I was just blown away. It did a lot to clarify the whole show-not-tell thing for me.

And last, John Wiswell: Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
It was the first book where I never put up with anything to get to the good part. It was all good parts, which I didn't know was possible or allowed. The dialogue was snappy, the exposition was funny, the plot never got boring, the characters were varied and entertaining for their varying dosages, the tangents were amusing in variety rather than preachy or cloying, and even when he stepped back to examine life his opinions were always unusual. Every book I'd ever read before, and most I've read since, had some inevitable clunky element that I had to put with to get to the worthwhile material, whether it was a superfluous romance, or arcane social commentary, or clunky backstory that was supposed to justify something later but that I usually skimmed. After this novel, the onus was suddenly on me (and everyone else I read) to similarly not drag ass. It’s just about impossible.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Bridge of Nowhere

This asylum assures that only a specific kind of patient may enter. It was constructed with twelve specialists inside, already on the grounds, and they live there year-round to give the poor mad-folk the attention they deserve. It’s a safe haven for the hopelessly schizophrenic, who’ve been abused and persecuted by the normal world. I was happy to jump into the project. It became my baby.

Well, I really only built the bridge, but it’s the best part. The grandiose Bridge of Disbelief. It’s a beautiful work of blacksteel, of invisible glass, of whitestone bricks, and gaps of thin air. It functions on a specific quantum magic that reads not the feet of the visitors, but their minds. 

The initial steps are the same for everyone – five paces by the widest gait, in which the bridge assesses what you believe you are seeing. If you believe you’re about to step on invisible glass, then it is thin air, and it dumps you into the bottomless chasm, where abyssal bugs will gnaw your bones. If you’re random fool who thinks he’s stepping on thin air, then it’s blacksteel lined with traps that trip off your limbs. If you believe it is blacksteel, then it’s whitestone that gradually dissolved your body as you walk on it. It manifests whatever you disbelieve.

Functioning as it does, it prevents anyone of sane mind from crossing. And anyone who is merely foolish or conventionally crazed, believing their own reality, is also banned from the asylum. Only the profoundly broken, who earnestly believe the bridge is all things, can make it across the entire span.

To prevent them from jumping over the edge on their way into the asylum, I built very high railings. They’re not particularly inventive. Not much to be proud of.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Which Nightmares Have Been True?

The nightmares won’t stop. Some nights I don’t sleep, some lucky nights I don’t dream, but every time I dream, Marcus is there. They’re holding his head in a tub of iced water, his arms trembling behind his back, twine digging into his wrists. They’re dropping a burlap sack over his face and beating it until he bleeds through. He’s crawling across an empty room, so emaciated he can’t stand anymore, lips cracked, eyes begging his holders for food. I want to hold him, I want to put a glass of water to his lips, but I can’t. I can never help him, because when I wake up, he’s still dead in some foreign country. So please, please. I’ve taken every drug, I’ve seen three psychiatrists, I’ve had myself committed – it doesn’t matter. The most honest advice anyone of them ever gave me was that I can’t get rid of them, only learn to deal with them. So help me deal with them, and let me know which nightmares have been true. How did he die?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

J.K. Rowling Is Not Your Bitch

The Casual Vacancy, held by some lady.
Full disclosure: I don’t like Harry Potter. Book 2 is a darned fine novel, but it’s also essentially a remake of Book 1, and the series goes lugubrious from there. My friends know me as the miserable troll under the YA bridge.

Hate that J.K. Rowling is writing a non-Fantasy book for adults? Then I hate you. Well, no, but I detest this outcry. A block of fans is demanding she pigeonhole herself with childhood angst and bookish wizardry. Instead of writing yet another YA novel where she’s guaranteed enormous sales and praise, she’s taken a risk and is exploring her craft. She’s in a fine financial position to try it, but it’s still brave, and not nearly enough authors do it.

Look, it’s not that Rowling gave you this YA tent. It existed before her, but not like this, and post-Rowling this stuff that you love is ubiquitous. Aside from detonating the YA explosion, she gave you seven novels at something like 5,000 total pages, which fully ended the God-damned story. To be angry that she writes anything else indicates a disgusting level of entitlement.

Oh, the entitlement. Oh, the things I’ve heard her “fans” decry. To list them would take… well, not an unnecessary amount of time. Precisely the right amount of time.

1)      “She’s acting like she’s better than Fantasy.”
I have yet to read a single interview or watch a single Youtube clip of her condescending against YA or Fantasy. This seems to be audiences overreacting to her simply writing something that isn’t YA Fantasy, perhaps even something that isn’t Harry Potter. All this means is she’s interested in more things than Potter. She’s clearly interested in magic, or she wouldn’t have written so many yammering pages of it.

2)      “She’s selling out.”
She became a billionaire off of Potter. If anything, A Casual Vacancy will be
a substantial pay cut.

3)      “I don’t want to read a magic-free Rowling world.”
Do you read any magic-free worlds? If so, then why not read one by her? She’s never published such a thing before, so you don’t know whether she’s bad at it. If you honestly love this author’s previous creations, consider giving her a chance at new works. Even if she sucks at it, this path of her career could open up unpredictable growth in her abilities later.

4)      “I knew it would suck. All the reviews say it sucks.”
Lev Grossman loved it. Newsweek backed it. I know Michiko Kakutani is throwing clods at the book, but especially for a first adult-book from the highest profile author alive, I honestly expected far worse critical press.

5)      “Small-town politics is so done.”
So are magic kids. They were done to bloody death before Rowling even picked up a pen.

6)      “The price of the Kindle version is too high.”
Not only is this not Rowling’s fault, but her publisher didn’t sell you a Kindle. Your Kindle ownership doesn’t entitle you to Hachette cutting your costs. If Amazon wanted to incentivize with her publisher, they could. As it is, it’ll probably be on their free Prime library in a year.

7)      “But my Kindle edition doesn’t work!”
You’re right. Hachette screwed up on that one, and if that’s your only complaint, please continue. It’s an embarrassment to an entire industry that will probably get someone fired and shouldn’t have been possible on such a big release.

Think about all the virtues in Harry Potter.
Now think about how few are manifesting in this audience.

Most of this argument has brought up sad echoes from Harry Potter’s past. I remember all those fans saying new or lapsed readers were picking up her books and falling in love with reading all sorts of new works. If you have a massive contingent of people whining she’s not writing about wizards, it cripples the thrust. It also feeds into one of the publishing industry’s most insidious stupidities.

You know that particular stupidity, don’t you? It’s the one that made editors pressure Ursula K. LeGuin to write more like Rowling. It’s not only the little guy-and-gal authors who get this; it’s legends and treasures of our canons who have been told to ape the most popular act. Now we’re experiencing the next step in this absurdism: the public yelling at Rowling to write more like herself.

This the same backlash Stephen King got for writing something other than Horror. Alexander Pope still gets it, centuries after his death, for writing anything other than satire. It’s a backlash so common and severe that when God tried to change up His sequel to The Torah, the Romans killed His only son.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Fundamentally, this is about readers feeling passionately about a creator’s work, and that’s a lovely kernel. But we need to encourage our heroes to produce diverse works, from wherever they derive inspiration. There are few greater compliments to someone’s prior novels than in patience and respect for their new experiments. That’s all anyone needs to display here – that, and how to code a readable e-book.
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