Fight for the Net: Round Frickin’ 3

I’m getting really tired of this bull shit.  We’re still 16 months out from the next presidential election, there’s five hundred republican candidates for congress, all of whom yammer on and on about “people”, “freedom”, and “protecting individual rights” but then we get crap like the fight over Net Neutrality.  How can any of you Tea Party losers even claim to support the people when the only reason this is a fight is because Comcast and Verizon spend hundreds of millions for lobbying (read bribes) in Washington.

Politicians. I’m looking at all of you. It is your job to protect us against giant corporations that just want to bend us over the barrel and shake us until all our money comes out.  I considered another analogy, but its less family friendly.  I’m sick of this.  I’m sick of you hypocrites pretending that you care about the American people.  You say one thing, then provably do another.  The American people want Net Neutrality.  We crashed the FCC’s servers telling you that in an OVERWHELMING volume.  You do, what we tell you to. Period. End of sentence. I don’t care how much the service providers contribute to your campaign donations.

The last few years have made it abundantly clear who has influence in Washington, and its not the people.  Between SOPA, PIPA, the latest trade agreement debacle and Net neutrality, its clear that our representatives and senators aren’t looking out for our interests.  They’re looking out for the corporate interests. So, bring pressure on these jerks. It only takes a few minutes. Write to your senators and representatives.  Come election day, remember who sold you to Comcast, then also remember how much fun you had the last time you called Time Warner Cable.  It’s time for politicians to remember who they work for.

My thoughts on paranormal romance / urban fantasy.

Here’s the mix: Take one private investigator, add city, mix with magic, vampires, werewolves and three tablespoons of fae.  Shake vigorously and let stand for three hundred pages.  Sprinkle generously with interesting personalites and serve with a side of sweet violence and sexual tension.  Feel free to substitute the first ingredient with a druid, necromancer, or whatever you have on hand.  Add grimdark to taste.  Enjoy!

Personally, I cut my teeth on Anita Blake, advanced to Harry Dresden (who just isn’t showing up as regularly as he used to), walked planes with Atticus O’Sullivan, with side helpings of anyone else who could keep my interest for a few books.  While I wouldn’t say that my taste is indiscriminate, I have sampled pretty widely in the genre.  Where there are series that I wait all year … sometimes multiple years (I’m looking at you Butcher!) for the next book in the series, there are others that just don’t catch me.  Maybe its the tone? Maybe its world?  Usually its the main character.  We’ll get into that.

Then there’s … paranormal romance. On the surface it looks like urban fantasy.  The book blurb on the back reads like it, but you probably know what you’re getting by the fifth chapter.  I know, I know…plenty of people love paranormal romance… but thus far I haven’t been able to make it through one.  I’m not saying that the genre’s bad.  Just like the corset and lace romance genre isn’t bad, in and of itself.  It just isn’t for me.  But, I’m a human being, and as such, I have … opinions.  And why have a blog if I don’t use it to toss an opinion or two out into the wild, where it can hurt some unsuspecting reader, here from WordKeeperAlpha?

So, paranormal romance, why can’t you keep my interest? Tropes.  You are just drowning in your tropes, and they make a hot sticky mess.  First and foremost: is the Perfect Female Protagonist’.  I don’t mean strong, I mean perfect, also known as a Mary Sue character.  Does the main character start off as a mousey nerd, but inside of six months is challenging established power houses within the world, making her a badass?  Does she master the katana (has to be a katana) in a short amount of time? Win the instant respect of beings who are ages older than her?

This isn’t even about the protagonist being female.  I LOVE me a kick ass woman main character.  Like I said, I got my start with the first five novels of the Anita Blake series.  All I ever wanted was Anita to stick around being a bad ass, killing monsters, taking names and … well, things got weird.  I had to start reading other books.  This isn’t a “I don’t like women as main characters thing” this is a “I don’t like main characters who are unrealistically perfect”.  

If further fairness, Anita Blake both spoiled and ruined me.  Ever since I hit that weird point in Anita Blake I’ve been looking for a main character who can take her place.  As a result, I’ve looked into a lot of series that, on the book synopsis, looked like urban fantasy, but turned out to be paranormal romance.  There is no disappiontment so harsh as expecting Anita Blake and getting Bella from Twilight.  Does she have a last name?  Bah! So, please, consider PFP to also be PMP, because I’m sure those are out there….probably angels or alpha werewolves of something.

Anita was great because she started off scared of so many things.  She knew that, even though she was a badass, compared to what she hunted she was pretty weak.  That means she had to be smart … or insanely brave … or have friends to back her up or just to scrape out no matter what.  Dresden’s kind of the same way.  He starts out a little fish in a very big pond, and some of the other fish that … ok, the fish metaphore is weird in this case.  Both Dresden and Anita are both their best when they’re out of their depth and if they get any respect it is grudgingly given.

The PFP/PMP enters the world of the paranormal either already Wolverine (the best at what he/she does) or as little Annakin (look at the MIDICHLORIANS on this one!).  Neither one of these is bad in and of itself…but when title character is already the best, there’s no where left to go.  Unless you tear them down to their roots and let them start again (this statement is in no way indicitive of what I’m writing now).  Its why I’m not a huge Superman fan, at least not classic Superman.  He’s been too good.  Too perfect.  And that’s just boring.

Wow…ok. So that went on for a bit longer than I thought it would.  I’ve got other things to talk about that seem to run rampant in paranormal romance, but if I went into them now, I’d be here all night.  Sounds like we’ve got the makings of a series!  Finally, something to talk about on my blog that’s actually writing related!  **does a little dance**  **falls**  **dies**

So, I’ve probably angered some people.  Here’s your chance to prove me wrong. Do you know a good paranormal romance book?  Something with a great MC, male or female, who just makes the book or story for you?  Leave a comment and I’ll try it out.  Really, just because I haven’t found my cup of tea yet, doesn’t mean it isn’t out there.  Educate me.

Honestly, I just want someone to leave me a comment.  I’m so lonely here.  So quiet and alone. 

WordKeeperAlpha – July Update (Comments requested)

Happy ‘Murica day, folks! Hope that you went out and blowed some stuff up last night, drank some tasty drinks, ate some meat what was cooked on a grill. June was something of a slow month on WordKeeperAlpha when it comes to updates.  I was kept pretty busy with a certain troublemaker, pictured below, my anniversary and various other things.  Oh, yeah.  And writing.  Can’t forget about writing.

Pixel Trouble Swanson Pixel Trouble Swanson

July, however, is going to be a much bigger month.  I got to finally dig into things again today and set about updating files on the site that were falling behind.  Updated my version of bootstrap, and the theme that uses it, along with all the javascipt it relies on.  Sadly, that took a while, but I am working on some big new features.  Here’s what’s coming this month: (hopefully)

Addressing one of the biggest requests that I’ve gotten from you fine people, I’m going to be doing a major revamp of the Goal and Project pages.  I’m going to be separating them into separate pages and adding a host of new features to each one.  Among those features, is going to be choosing what Goal and Project graphs show up on you Home page.

On the Goals page I’m going to be adding statistics, such as: your words per day on a goal, the words per day you need to succed, stats on recurring goals (maybe) along with graphs for every goal, which you’ll be able to mark as favorites to show up on your home page.

The Projects page will include all the statistics that you see on the current incarnation of Projects, but include some more helpful stats.  I’ll also be adding graphs to each Project that you’ll be able to mark as favorites and add them to your home page.

Until I have some screen shots to show you what I’m working up, you’ll just have to trust me that you’re going to like it.  Other things that I’m thinking about, but not actively working on:

  • That thrice damned error that keeps the ‘Remember me’ button from working correctly on login.  I’ve spent hours and hours on this and as near as I can tell, I’m doing everything right but it just won’t stick! URG!!
  • Finishing the API, making a WordPress plugin that uses it.  WIll let you put your Goal and Project Progress up on your blog or website.
  • Author pages, the beginning of WordKeeperAlpha social.
  • Writing Sprints – more social stuff.
  • Writing groups – even MORE social stuff.

Those are the things that are on my plate right now.  That and one other thing.  Its been suggested to me a few times that I should do something to make some money off of WordKeeperAlpha.  My vision for it has always been to keep it completely free, and ad free, maybe put up a donation page or start a Patreon.  Buuuuuut, there’s always the possibility that if enough people were using WordKeeperAlpha, I’d be able to make enough money with it to make it my full time job, OR make it my part time job and writing my full time job (if I can make some money writing too…which I still need to finish a book for).  Still, I’ve promised that WordKeeperAlpha would always be free, and I’m willing to stick to that.  In fact, I refuse to charge for the core features that I’ve already developed.

My question is, and I’d really love some feedback here, what would you, my users prefer?  If I started a Patreon and a tip jar, would you donate or participate in the Patreon, were I to keep all features free forever?  What if I supplemented that with some light to moderate ads?  I know nobody likes ads, but they might be needed when I need to move WordKeeper off of shared hosting and to a dedicated server somewhere.  That sort of support doesn’t come free.  I know, I’ve been investigating it.  Another option is having some kind of “Prime” membership where everyone gets the basic features for free, but maybe API support and some of the more advanced social options or other features require a monthly membership?  I’m really not sure, so I thought I would ask for some of your opinions.  What do you think I should do?  When the time comes, that is.  This is probably a year or more down the road.  Rest assured, I will not be taking anything away from my existing and wonderful users, but these are things I have to think about.

However, if you’re looking for a way to support me now, consider giving WordKeeperAlpha a shout out to your writer friends on Twitter, or following me on Facebook, maybe write a blog post about your own experience?  All of these would help me find some more users, and drive me to pay more attention to coding and less to video games.  I’m not saying that new features are dependent on you guys helping me out, but there WAS just that big Steam sale.  Just sayin’.

Tor Boycott: Or a follow up to my last post

If you read my last post, you already know that I think that Vox Day and his “Rabid puppies” are a bunch of shitbirds.  For the sake of keeping this post short so I can go and write other more fun words, I’ll be brief.  

Long story short, Irene Gallo, the creative director at Tor said basically called the Sad / Rabid puppies a bunch of rascist, misogynistic neo-nazis on her private blog.  She’s not wrong, by the way.  Still, the shitbird in chief, Day (also known as Theodore Beale), took a screen grab of the comment, then sat on it for a month.  Knowing the time was write do to the tingling of his doucebag-sense, he released it a bit more than a week ago to stir up the puppies again with an extra helping of GamerGate bile.  

Tom Doherty, head of Tor, made a basic statement that kind of threw Gallo under the bus, and she made a broad apology.  That didn’t sit well with pretty much everyone else and cue the next big Vox Day caused fight since the Hugo’s ended.  Of course, he and his minions weren’t satisfied that Irene wasn’t outright fired for the simple act of speaking her mind, so of course, Day is leading a boycott of Tor books. 

Don’t mistake him. Day doesn’t give two wet shits about what Irene said.  He might be personally offended that she dared say anything about her male betters (misogynist that he is) but he doesn’t really care what she said.  More to the point, this is at least the second boycott of Tor books that Day has tried to get going among the trollish parts of the internet.  He’s had some sort of ax to grind against them for years, and I don’t know if its because they won’t publish his books or because he has some weird feud with John Scalzi and it just spills over onto Tor.

I should point out that while Day views Scalzi as his arch-nemesis, Scalzi really doesn’t appear to care one way or another about Day, beyond wishing he’d just go away.  Still, it was amusing to watch Day nash his teeth and turn green when Scalzi landed a sweet deal (millions of dollars) with Tor.

I seem to have digressed.  Right! Boycott of Tor, Vox Day at fault!  So, basically I don’t want Tor to suffer because Vox Day is the rabid puppy currently taking a dump on their living room carpet.  I’ve bought a couple Tor books in the last couple of days, and I’d encourage everyone else to do so as well.  Your options are many, and just about every one of them is a winner.  If I may, a few personal recommendations:

John Scalzi

  • Locked In
  • Red Shirts
  • Old Man’s War
  • Fuzzy Nation

Brandon Sanderson

  • The Way of Kings
  • Warbreaker
  • Mistborn: The Iron Empire
  • The Alloy of Law
  • Elantris
  • Steelheart

Buying more books is always a good idea, but if you do it now, you can show a great publisher that it doesn’t have to worry about feculant little turds like Day.  Lets show him that he really, truly, doesn’t matter, and then read a few great stories.

Why do we keep Vox Day around?

We all know a guy like Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day.  Well, alright, very few of us know anyone like Beale.  He’s an unrepentant misogynist, racist, egotistical asshat who has claimed that “white men just don’t rape anymore” among other reprehensible things.  So, really, I hope that you don’t actually know anyone like Beale.  More generally, we all know at least one unmitigated asshole.  Every time you find out that they’re going to be at an event you’re going to, you reconsider, just so you don’t have to interact with them.  At the end of the day, consensus is that we’d all just be better off if “that person” weren’t invited in the future.  After all, exactly how many times does he need to throw up on your nice couch before you stop inviting him.

I think we’ve officially reached that point with Beale.  He’s become the human equivalent of a tiny yappy dog dipped in cat urine.  He’s convinced that he’s a much bigger influence on the SFF community than he really is, but if it weren’t for the fact that he was so loud and so noxious, no would would even know who he was.  I could “do not link” his blog here, so that you could get to know his odious personality for yourselves, but I like you all too much for that.  And that, is really how Beale should be handled.  He should be forgotten, ignored.  Not invited.

Some people may or may not know about the whole ‘Sad puppies’ / ‘Rabid puppies’ issue that happened / is happening with this years Hugo awards.  If you don’t know what it is, then, here’s the short version.  A few authors felt that the Hugo’s were ignoring “fun” SFF in favor of “message” SFF.  “Message” meaning stories and authors who were pushing an agenda with their writing, specifically that of a feminist persuasion.  The original group gathered under the name of the “Sad puppies”, for reasons that baffle me still.  They are led by Brad Torgersen and Larry Correia and their goal was to essentially stuff the ballot for the Hugo’s with a bunch of “fun” SFF (not dirty feminist message books).  Beale decided to jump on the band wagon and rally his own unwashed horde of racists and trolls under the banner of the “Rabid puppies” and basically stuffed the ballots with his own drek and that of books published by his own publishing house.  Also, not dirty feminist message books.

A side note: Once an animal is rabid there is little choice but to put it down.

The sad / rabid puppy movement has viewed with varying degrees of disdain and has led to a lot of discussion on what can be done about it.  One option open to Hugo voters was to vote “no award” in the categories in which the puppies had stuffed the box.  Beale, being the delightful lad he is, threatened to use the existing Hugo voting system to more or less ruin the Hugo’s in upcoming years if the voters pushed for “no award”.

Undoubtedly, Beale see’s himself as the hero, fighting the good fight against the liberal forces that are encroaching on his world.  But as any good author knows, the villain always sees himself as the hero.  Unfortunately, Beale isn’t even the villain.  He’s simply the asshole who shows up at the party, already drunk, sexually harrasses a couple of the guests before defecating on the table before the police escort him from the premises.  And its time that we not only stopped inviting him, but stopped taking his calls.