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    Mary's DIY Publishing Blog


    Further-non-progress report

    Well, there's progress on the house front--it's painted! Wonders never cease! Of course, this being the old house, the very act of painting uncovered a couple of things that need to get fixed ASAP, so that's what I'll be doing today. I have an appointment with the carpet people for Tuesday--that may take a few weeks just because of the time it takes for the carpet to get ordered, but it shouldn't require a ton of active management on my part.

    On the other hand, I've really been neglecting the place, so the yard is beginning to get that abandoned look. I'm living in a better environment now, so I've lost my tolerance and everything about that place enrages me--the across-the-street pervert who gets into his truck and watches me whenever I work in the front yard, the tire tracks the drunk fucks who live there regularly leave in the lawn--but I know it will just get worse if I don't keep the place relatively tidy. So I just need to suck up and do some yard work there--not that the weather is cooperating (grinds teeth audibly).

    Anyway, I guess my point is that I'll be somewhat occupied with getting the house ready to sell, but I feel like it shouldn't take up THAT much time, so hopefully now that my killer sinus/ear infection has cleared up, I can actually write again soon. Fingers crossed, anyway--a girl can dream.


    Non-progress report

    One of the reasons I got a flu shot this week was that I could tell I was getting a sinus infection, so I figured I'd have all my illnesses at once. And it's worked brilliantly--I'm a total mess. It's bumming me out because everything else has settled down more or less, but the painting and related fixing-up and finally putting-on-the-market of the old house is coming up soon...uuugh.

    OK--I'm going to try to set a realistic goal here: I'm hoping to have the first draft of the fantasy novel done by Christmas. There we go.


    Some of this is interesting, and some of this is dumb

    The Wall Street Journal has an article on the Author's Guild meeting with the Department of Justice about how Amazon is a big, evil monopoly that should be burned at the stake.

    I've done a number of posts about how Amazon is not in fact a monopoly, and I've done other posts on how the Author's Guild is comically useless. I'm not seeing anything here to change my mind about either topic (which also explains why I don't do much industry posting any more)--I mean, it's only been two years since the DOJ ignored the Author's Guild and successfully sued publishers, and the Author's Guild is already running back to them with the exact same argument? Really? I bet the DOJ had a good laugh about that one.

    Anyway, what really interested me in the article was some numbers on Amazon's market share, done via a survey of book buyers, not book publishers:

    Amazon had 40% of the new book market, 62% of all print books sold online, and 64% of the e-book market, according to a June 2014 online survey by researcher Codex-Group LLC, based on a survey of 3,672 adults who purchased books in the prior month.

    The e-book percentage was lower than I thought it would be, although it is in line with the publisher figures the Author's Guild regurgitated two years ago. So, yeah, Amazon's choke-hold on the industry resulted in them . . . not really increasing their market share at all over the past two years. OK.

    And just FYI, a similar survey of customers who bought digital music found that roughly 80% use a single retailer, namely iTunes. This is why the Amazon-is-a-monopoly argument just isn't going to fly--it's not about market share. There needs to be anticompetitive behavior, and it's just not there.

    The whole Hachette dramarama is nothing more than a standard-issue conflict between a supplier and a retailer, just like the Macmillan one was. It's just that there's a lot of people out there who don't understand business very well and are willing to act as Hachette's unpaid publicity agents.


    Oh, look, training wheels

    This week is turning into such a lost cause that I got a flu shot today--I mean, why not? Stuff is getting done on the house at least, albeit nowhere else.

    Anyway, I started reading Game of Thrones last night--I'll probably just start watching the TV series once I finish the first book, considering the length of the others and the reputation they have for diminishing rewards.

    I'm about 100 pages in of the first book, and while I think overall it's pretty good, you can definitely tell when something is written for the mass market, you know? I mean, I don't begrudge anyone their success, but I seeing some really familiar things that I think the book would be better (but probably less successful) without.

    Namely (spoilers ahoy!):

    The repetition. "Winter is coming." "Waken the dragon." "Catchphrases must each be repeated two dozen times within the first 100 pages."

    The over-the-top bad guys. "Quick! Let's murder this child to protect our incestuous relationship!" Jesus Christ, Snidely Whiplash is subtle in comparison.

    The unbelievably clueless authority figure. The king--the king--is concentrating all his kingdom's power into the hands of a family that is not his. Isn't keeping potential rivals from amassing too much power like, Step #1 in the Ten Easy Steps to Maintain Your Throne?

    And who is the family? It's his wife's family. Guess who never much cared for his wife? Guess whose wife has ambitious male relatives about the right age to take the throne?

    The well-meaning but incompetent advisors. "OK, you remember back, like, 10-15 years ago, when you first took power? This guy made it really clear back then that he wanted your throne. Yeah, I dunno why I didn't tell you this back then either, but I'm really worried about it now. What? You're saying it's water under the bridge? You think that if I felt like I could sit on this warning for more than a decade, it must not be that important? Hm--I never saw that one coming."

    The sex scene that probably should have been way less explicit. Let's say your book features a young man who is easily cowed and is being treated abominably. This young man, who is VERY, VERY, VERY MUCH a virgin, is sold in marriage to an older, beautiful, but extremely forbidding woman. On their wedding night, much to everyone's surprise, the woman turns out to be a gentle and considerate lover who warmly initiates this young man into the joys of an erotic life.

    You do this via a fairly explicit sex scene.

    And in the course of this fairly explicit sex scene, the experienced, considerate women never once touches the young man's penis.

    That would be ridiculous, right? But guess what Martin does with a young virginal woman and an older, oh-so experienced man, who with all his abundant expertise and profound commitment to making the sex good for the woman, doesn't seem to know what a clitoris is?

    I mean, I understand discomfort with writing this kind of thing--I myself will probably never write an explicit sex scene--but once you've decided to do it, you can't pretend that certain anatomical realities don't exist. Especially not when it's written from the woman's point of view!



    This has also been a tough week for writing--lot of family crapola. Hopefully things will improve sooner rather than later.

    In the meantime, I've been watching the television series Longmire, which I started after reading this article on how it was canceled despite good ratings. (An interesting case of the network's business model not being aligned with ratings per se: Advertisers think the audience skews too old, while the network doesn't own the program and won't get any revenue from streaming or DVDs.)

    It's a very good show. I'm almost through the second season, though, and one decision they made really bothers me.

    This is going to get VERY spoilery, so be warned. Again, the show is excellent, so you very well might want to stop reading this and go watch it first.

    If you're still reading: Longmire is the title character, and he is the sherrif of a rural county in Wyoming. His wife died the previous year, and he is still very tramautized.

    You discover through a gradual series of reveals that he has especially good reason to be tramautized: His wife had cancer, but that's not what killed her--she was murdered while getting treatment in Denver. Longmire kept the fact of her murder a secret from everyone except a particularly close friend of his who owns a restaurant. Longmire traveled down to Denver, found out who his wife's killer was, and murdered him.

    Now Longmire is desolate and remorseful--and no one other than the friend knows why, because he's still keeping everything a secret. He talks a lot about how he never realized the horrible things he was capable of, and he throws himself into high-risk suicide missions whenever he can.

    Except that, in! a! shocking! twist! it turns out that Longmire didn't murder his wife's killer--his friend did.


    I don't know if this was just a twist-too-far decision or a preserve-the-main-character's-purity one--or maybe the writers wanted Longmire to have yet ANOTHER secret, because he just didn't have enough already--but in any case, I don't like it.

    Think about it: Before, Longmire was tortured because he did something very bad. Now's he's tortured because somebody else did something very bad--that's called being an emo drama queen, dude.

    Before he was throwing himself into these high-risk suicide missions because he felt despair and remorse. Now he's doing it . . . I guess because of his frustrated homicidal rage, right? That makes me kind of worried for the residents of his county, to be honest.

    And before a lawman crossed a line and applied a harsh and inappropriate form of justice because his beloved wife was murdered. Now a guy who serves burgers and mixed drinks committed murder to keep his buddy happy. (Hmm. A lot of homicidal people in this county, apparently.)

    I hate it when the integrity of a character (or two) is destroyed because someone just had to tack on another twist. You have to have these things make sense. If it's going to turn out that a person didn't do what everyone thinks they did, then they need behave from the beginning like someone who didn't. Otherwise it's just cheap.