djonn: (woods)

I don't want to be alarmed about the new LJ Terms of Service, I really don't.  But a couple of those on my friends-list have pointed out, quite correctly, that the new language includes an unusually broad and egregious rights grab:

If User participates in any rankings or if User’s Content is used in any editorial projects of the Service, User provides to the Administration an additional authorisation to modify, shorten and amend his/her Content, to add images, a preamble, comments or any clarifications to his/her Content while using it, and in certain cases based on the Service functions, an authorisation to use User’s Content anonymously.

This is not, by itself, enough to make me fold my LJ entirely.  However, it's going to change my posting habits.

I'll still be reading on both DW and LJ, and I will still crosspost short off-the-cuff thoughts and comments.  However, new "Tales of Darkest Suburbia" entries, detailed reviews or commentaries, and any and all fictional content will not be crossposted to LJ.  Those will appear on the Dreamwidth journal and/or my "Lone Penman" Webspace.

I dislike doing this (not least because I honestly doubt that the Russian readership, if any, is much interested in my particular work), but I retain enough writerly paranoia that I think it's prudent.  Again, I am not actually leaving LJ as yet -- but as of today, my LiveJournal is a secondary Web presence, and there will be content elsewhere that does not get reposted to LJ.

djonn: (woods)
The day has arrived!  My newest Uncial Press ebook, Spirit of All the Russias, is live. The title page calls it a "novel byte"; in practical terms, it's a short story published in ebook format.  Which means (among other things) that it has extremely cool cover art (see below).  Currently, you'll find it at Uncial's Web site and over at ebook-retailer Untreed Reads; it should filter out to Amazon, B&N, and a host of other ebook sellers in the next couple of days. 

(ETA2: As of late Friday night, it's on both Amazon and B&N.  That said, one thing to keep in mind about ebooks published by smaller presses: when you buy directly from the publisher's Web site, you're showing extra support for that author and publisher, who then don't have to share revenue with a third-party vendor.)

Spirit of All the Russias (cover art)

 Baba Yaga has long been one of my favorite myth-figures, and I am very happy to see this story out in the world. 
djonn: (woods)

I've seen a good deal of reaction over the last couple of days to Amazon's announcement of its "Kindle Worlds" program in which it aims to solicit and publish licensed (!) fanfiction set in a handful of franchise universes.  Both the fanfic world and certain corners of the professional writing community are rising up in mutual astonishment, mostly to point out the holes in Amazon's logic.

At the same time, both the fans and the pros seem cautiously convinced that the program is actually going to work -- that is, that people are actually going to make money on the deal.

I'm not.  I think the odds are against anyone -- writer, licensor, Amazon -- turning a significant profit on the venture.  Let me explain.... )

djonn: (woods)
No, I haven't made a New Year's resolution (though there are probably some I should consider).  In fact, the news is both more prosaic and niftier.  At long last, I've joined the ranks of the techno-portable, and I'm posting via public wi-fi at the library purely because I can.  (Whee!  See how easily amused I've become in middle age....)

The new toy is an impressively compact little Asus Eee netbook, which turned up on one-day sale at deep discount yesterday.  The local chain running the ad evidently wanted to blow out its remaining stock (such as it was); the clerk at the second store I visited said I'd scored the very last one anywhere in their regional  inventory.  (It's also, of course, a dinosaur of sorts, what with netbooks being rapidly supplanted by tablet devices, but for those of us who actually use our computers for wordsmithing, there's much to be said for a machine with a proper keyboard and enough disk space to actually install one's word-processor software.)

And so I join the ranks of those who can sit in a Starbuck's or a library and patter away on their magnum opuses (opi?).  I say again, Wheee!  And now to work....
djonn: (butterfly)
In the e-publishing landscape, five years is a fairly long time.  So I'm happy to note that my ebook publisher, Uncial Press, is five years old this month and still going strong, with a sturdy list featuring a wide variety of titles.  To celebrate, they're staging a month-long series of giveaways, with prizes including two ebook readers (a Kobo and a Kindle) as well as a host of Uncial ebooks.

Phantom of the Operetta, one of my two Uncial titles, is one of the daily prizes; to win a free copy, head to the giveaway page a week from tomorrow (Monday, Oct. 17).  In the meantime, I've also just updated my own Web pages to add Supernatural Timing, a short-short Halloween story that features some of the "Phantom" characters (but doesn't spill any of "Phantom's" key plot twists).  It's probably worth noting that both these stories derive in notable part from my enthusiasm for Gilbert & Sullivan....

Happy birthday, Uncial!
djonn: Self-portrait (Default)
I've been mostly sitting on the sidelines as health insurance and health care have taken over the mediascape and the blogosphere.  For me, much of the "debate" has been an exercise in frustration -- there's a lot of railing against the Evil Insurance Companies, the Evil Government Bureaucrats, and the Evil Drug Manufacturers, and even many of the more thoughtful commentators have not, to my mind, really managed to come to grips with what I consider the real underlying problems.

I also note for the record that much of my own context on the discussion arises from observation of my father's professional career.  He spent virtually his entire working life in the nonprofit health insurance field, beginning in the 1950s as a claims clerk for a smaller Blue Shield plan.  By the time he retired in the 1990s, the company had become a great deal larger, and his final big project as a senior executive and general counsel was coordinating its evolution into a group of affiliated Blue Cross & Blue Shield plans covering most of four western states.  As you might expect, I am therefore easily irritated by those who rail indiscriminately against Evil Insurance Companies; by the standards of many such commentators, I am obviously the Spawn of Evil and thus irredeemably tainted.

However, as [ profile] e_moon60 points out in an excellent recent post, the foregoing is not itself a point of civil discourse; it's an emotional response.  And as it happens, a different post from [ profile] kateelliott crystallizes for me what one of the key issues actually is.

It's this: people can tell you without too much difficulty what they've spent on health insurance and/or medical care in a given year, and frame that figure as a dollar amount (call it $xxx for simplicity's sake, recognizing that there are often more digits than that in the real figure).  But in order to accurately frame the the economic context, we need a second number.  We need to know $yyy, where $yyy is the value of the resources received for that expenditure.

This leads to two distinct levels of complication. )
djonn: Self-portrait (Default)

Came home tonight to a very cool message on my answering machine:

The cover art for Phantom of the Operetta has won the Dream Realm Award for best ebook cover art of 2008!

I am immensely pleased, of course.  All congratulations, though, should go to Judith Glad, Uncial Press resident editor, who also created the cover.  Here's the artwork itself:

djonn: (butterfly)
In the department of "study in contrasts":

Earlier this month, all the major broadcast networks spent hours of live air time covering Michael Jackson's memorial service.  This morning, there's not one over-the-air station providing live coverage of Walter Cronkite's services (at least not here in Portland, Oregon).


Walter deserves better than that.

ETA: All right, now I'm confused. Regular midday coverage says that the Cronkite service -- unlike Jackson's -- was private (though they appeared to have footage from outside). But I'd have sworn that the crawl I saw earlier this morning indicated that CBS, at least, was providing live coverage of the service via Webcast.
djonn: Self-portrait (Default)

No, it's not what you think (but I bet [ profile] twilight2000 fell off her chair just reading the subject line).  Through the friendly and very kind auspices of the mistresses of Smart Bitches Trashy Books, I'm spending a chunk of my summer as a guinea pig.

I have here on the desk a Sony PRS-505 Reader, which I'll be "test driving" through the end of September.  I've already loaded some two dozen titles on the device (not counting a handful of odds and ends and the gadget's onboard user's guide).  Over the course of the next couple of months, I'll be putting the Reader through its paces, and the 30 of us in the Test Drive group will be reviewing both the device and a wide variety of romance titles (since SBTB is, after all, a romance readers' blog/site) over on SBTB.

It's going to be a very interesting ride.  Despite having published two ebooks, I haven't been an ebook consumer before now, and I've read relatively little category romance (though that's been changing a bit over the last year or two, as a number of writers whose work I enjoy have begun writing and publishing in the romance genre).  I'll certainly be linking to my SBTB "Test Drive" entries from here, and most likely posting additional observations (very likely including book-notes) in this space.

And so it begins....

djonn: (holly)
Le sigh.

As most of the immediate universe is probably aware, Portland (Oregon) is presently the recipient of what are -- for us -- absurd amounts of snow. (I finally ventured out this evening with a ruler; depending on my choice of spot, I got measurements of 4" to 8" of fine crystalline snow, all accumulated today -- and it's still coming.)

What this means, of course, is that my usual choice of local TV station has been broadcasting nothing but weather coverage since oh-dark-thirty or so this morning, telling us as often and as repetitively as possible that (a) it is snowing outside, (b) the weather is going to be nearly as difficult tomorrow and into Monday, and (c) unless we're absolutely crazy, we should all stay home and watch the TV weather coverage instead of trying to drive anywhere.

Of course, this being the Internet age, they're getting email from folks who want their regular programming back, because they already know that it's snowing, it's going to keep on being snowy, and their TV anchors are obsessed with this information. In the interests of fair play, they're reading these emails on the air -- and explaining, oh so earnestly, that they simply must keep up the weather coverage because it's a Valuable Public Service, and it's terribly important that they give us all of the vital weather information they can....

....and then following this explanation with fifteen minutes of user-submitted Youtube-style faux news video in which local residents report from various parts of the metro area that it's snowing, it's still snowing, it's cold, and they are thrilled that the TV station is giving them their fifteen seconds of fame.

I think my cognitive-dissonance meter just exploded....

(And for this we're getting digital TV so the local stations can broadcast unceasing weather coverage on two or three channels at once?)
djonn: Self-portrait (Default)
And there was much rejoicing....

The news for the week is that I'm bylined in Publishers' Weekly with a short profile of Lucius Shepard.  You should be able (at least this week) to see "Travels With Lucius" by following the link.  I consider this very cool indeed; it was an enjoyable, intriguing interview, and the project as a whole turned around very promptly indeed, with entirely cogent and professional editorial input.

Better still, I was able to insert a reference to the second Juliet McKenna ebook, Phantom of the Operetta, into the PW bio squib!
djonn: Self-portrait (Default)

For those following developments regarding Sen. Obama and the remarks made by now-retired pastor Benjamin Wright:

It so happens that I grew up in a United Church of Christ church household (and attended several different UCC churches before eventually falling out of active church membership).  And it seems to me that little if any of the news coverage I've heard on the matter has acknowledged a key characteristic of the UCC that provide important context for the response (or lack thereof) to the Rev. Wright's statements.

Specifically: the UCC is a denomination in which there's a very high degree of congregational autonomy -- pastors are hired and employed by each individual local church, and to the extent that there's a central denominational hierarchy, its function is almost entirely administrative rather than theological.  An illustrative analogy: the Catholic church operates as a unified corporate hierarchy, in which local churches function essentially as branch offices or wholly owned subsidiaries, with everyone ultimately answerable to Corporate HQ in Vatican City.  By contrast, the UCC is essentially a coalition of hundreds of local, independently owned businesses -- while they all operate under the same brand name, and have set up regional and national networks to pool resources and manage the brand, each congregation is fully self-governing.

As a result, when a UCC pastor says or does something controversial, the only people in a position to easily discipline or fire him are the members of his own congregation, which is run in much the same way as any other mid-sized nonprofit organization.  Yes, this means precisely what you think it does: the committee structure and internal politics of a typical UCC church aren't all that different from, say, SFWA's....

djonn: Self-portrait (Default)

Got home from OryCon Saturday night to find email from my editor:

Charmed, I'm Sure is now available for download from Uncial Press!  This is somewhat earlier than I'd anticipated, but I am emphatically not complaining (heh!).

Here's the cover: )

(OryCon tomorrow should be even more fun now....)

djonn: (butterfly)

Next week is going to be insanely busy, largely -- but not entirely -- because we're only a couple of weeks away from the release of my first ebook, "Charmed, I'm Sure", by Uncial Press, and it's time to get my act together and promote the story.  Herewith where you'll be able to find me:

Tuesday evening, Nov. 13 (7:00 pm) is the monthly Science Fiction Book Group at Powell's Books @ Cedar Hills Crossing (read "Beaverton"), which I co-moderate with [ profile] martianmooncrab; our book for the month is Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Discussions are informal, newcomers are always welcome, there are generally cookies of some sort, and Peter-in-charge-of-the-SF-section often has surplus advance proofs available for interested participants.

On Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7 pm, I'll be part of a fourteen-author signing event, also at Powell's Books @ Cedar Hills Crossing.  In addition to talking up the upcoming ebook release, I'm told that there should be copies of Fantastic Companions and Swashbuckling Editor Stories on hand, and I understand that there may be a drawing or two during the evening.  Among those slated to appear are [ profile] davidlevine, [ profile] lilithsaintcrow, [ profile] ramblin_phyl, and [ profile] jaylake [business travel again, darnit!], as well as a number of non-LJ-enabled folk.

I will also be at OryCon on Nov. 16-18, participating in panels and generally hanging out.  My schedule so far looks like this:

Friday - 1:00 pm (Eugene): With Harry Potter done, how do we keep the kids reading?
Friday - 2:30 pm (Salem): Reading: "Charmed, I'm Sure"

Saturday - 1:00 pm (Portland): The Romance of Piracy: how did they transmute ruthless murderers into Johnny Depp?
Saturday - 3:00 pm (Salon A): Life After Harry Potter

Sunday - 12:00 noon (Portland): Writing for Young Adults and Bringing In The New

If you see me, remind me to breathe....

djonn: Self-portrait (Default)

After a considerable amount of tinkering and reworking, my Web page update is live.  This reflects a major site redesign; the prior iteration of the site had been created in Front Page, and updating it had become . . . complicated on the new computer.  This version was built with MS Expressions Web, and is CSS-driven, so is hopefully a lot cleaner where code is concerned.

Almost all of what was there is still there, although in a couple of cases it's moved, and a couple of pages have been renamed.  To the extent that I'm aware of external links to my pages, most of those should still work.  There are also completely new subsections devoted to my published and forthcoming stories.  One further side effect of the redesign is that there are now counters on all the subpages ("You are visitor number 4!").

I invite all and sundry to go over, look around, and let me know what works and doesn't work.

Now I just have a novelette to finish editing, two book reviews to work on, critiques to do for my writers' group, and a SFWA-committee project to complete.  Not to mention various other writing projects....
djonn: Self-portrait (Default)
Good news on the writing front:

Uncial Press has accepted "Charmed, I'm Sure" -- a contemporary fantasy novelette -- for ebook publication (I'd say that I have contracts in hand, but in fact they're en route back to Publisher HQ as I type this).  Tentatively, the story should be out in spring 2008; I will definitely be providing more specific details as they become available.

I'm very much looking forward to this.  Uncial is a relatively new e-publisher, but I think they have solid market and business sense (and, obviously, good editorial taste).

Meanwhile, I'm now contractually obligated to bring my incredibly dusty Web site up to date....
djonn: Self-portrait (Default)

I got a call a month or so back from a political pollster, wanting to know my views on a charter amendment coming up for a vote next month, which would if approved change Portland's form of government rather drastically.  I answered all the questions to the best of my ability, but told the caller that I hadn't yet made up my mind, as I was waiting to get my Voters' Pamphlet so I could read the measure and study it in detail.

The Voters' Pamphlet arrived today -- but it's not going to be as much of a help as I'd hoped.

Why not, you ask?  Because the text of that proposed charter amendment isn't in it.  Nor are the texts of any of the other three proposed charter amendments Portland voters are supposed to be voting on in the upcoming election.

It must be a misprint or a defective copy, right?  Apparently not.  All the pages are properly numbered.  Everything else is there -- ballot title, short summary, arguments in favor and in opposition -- but not the proposed amendments themselves.  And a Web check reveals that neither Web iteration of the Voters' Pamphlet (HTML or PDF) includes the amendment texts either.  Nor does any version of the Voters' Pamphlet include so much as a URL where one might find the amendment texts.

No . . . as far as I can tell, it appears that city and county officials are asking voters to decide four significant issues without letting us read the legislation we're supposed to be voting on.  And here Portland is supposed to be one of the most progressive cities in the US, too.

I have sent off a polite but astonished note via the county elections office's Web-feedback form.  I have also sent off a note to my favorite local TV news station.  We shall see what happens....

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