Wednesday April 10, 2013
Today, April 10th, numerous friends of Dave Wolverton (aka David Farland) are "bombing" his YA novel Nightingale and his writing guide Million Dollar Outlines.
What's a book bomb? It's when a large enough group of people all buy a book on the same day to affect Amazon's sales rank for that book, bumping it onto the front pages of their sites. This broadens awareness of the book, further increasing sales.
Both Nightingale and Million Dollar Outlines have been out for a while. Why are we doing this today?
Dave's son Ben was seriously injured, and the medical bills promise to be oppressive. The full, official details are here, and here is a link that will let you contribute directly.
If a book bomb seems too gimicky, and if direct contributions aren't your thing, there is another way you can help. Use either the Nightingale or Million Dollar Outlines link to take you to Amazon. Then surf around and buy stuff you were planning to buy anyway. A portion of what you spend -- typically between 6% and 8% of the pre-shipping total -- is credited to Dave Wolverton's Amazon Affiliate's account. That may not seem like much, but if enough people do this, the account will quickly fill with thousands of helpful, much-needed dollars.
You've been very generous and supportive towards me so far this year. Until further notice, please use Dave's Amazon links rather than mine when shopping. My needs are currently met. My friend's needs are not.
Semi-related, but certainly timely: this article provides an excellent rule-of-thumb for responding to the grief of others. From the article itself:
"It works in all kinds of crises – medical, legal, even existential. It's the 'Ring Theory' of kvetching. The first rule is comfort in, dump out."
Summed up for you in this case: Draw a dot surrounded by concentric circles. Ben is at the center, the bulls-eye. Those closest to Ben are in the innermost ring. Their friends are in the next ring out. Friends-of-friends are further out. You, fair reader, may be five or perhaps six rings from Ben.
Applying the rule, if you have comfort to offer, that goes inward, toward Ben. If, on the other hand, you have kvetching to do, that goes out, away from Ben, and away from Dave.
Sandra shared this with me last night, and while it's not perfect, it's as good a rule-of-thumb as I've ever seen for these circumstances.
Tuesday April 9, 2013
Tomorrow many of us writer-types will be blasting links to David Farland's Nightingale. It's a good book, and it's now in support of a rather critical cause. The author's son Ben has been seriously injured, is comatose, and the medical bills promise to be oppressive.
You can, of course, contribute to Ben's care directly.
Also, you can do the shopping you'd already be doing by starting with this link to Nightingale (just navigate around Amazon normally starting from that page.) David Farland's Amazon Affiliate account is built into that exact URL, and he'll be getting between 6% and 8% of whatever you spend.
Dave is a friend of mine, has been a personal mentor to hundreds of my friends and fellow writers, and an inspiration to thousands. Whether or not you know him, as a favor to me, please use his Affiliate Account instead of mine. I don't have access to build Amazon links with his account, so bookmark that Nightingale page for now.
You've been very generous with me this last month. Even after we ship all these coins, my family's needs are met for at least the next six months. The very least I can do for my friend Dave is turn a portion of my ad revenue his direction, but I can only do that with your help.
Monday April 8, 2013
Well, that was quite nice. I took a week off -- all the way off, really -- and managed to actually unwind. The family and I went down to Moab, Canyonlands, and Goblin Valley for a few days, and aside from answering a little bit of email, I got absolutely no work done.
Back at home on Thursday evening and Friday I declared myself "still on vacation" and ALSO got no work done.
It's Monday morning, though. Time to get some work done...
Wednesday April 3, 2013
This is out a little late, but it's got spoilers so I'm fine with that.
The Croods was not what I expected. The trailers promised a re-tread of the "Dad never lets me do anything" story, this time set in a fanciful pre-history full of monsters that never made it into the fossil record. The film itself delivered something different. See, from the trailers I expected the red-haired cavegirl to be our protagonist. But a protagonist, at least in terms of story structure, is a character who has a specific need or desire, a goal, and has an arc, a path of personal change, after which they reach that goal, or get to a point where they don't need it, or maybe they simply fail (but I don't like that last sort of story much. Tragedy? Yuck.)
Guess what? The red-headed cave girl, Eep, is not our protagonist. She gets what she needs -- adventure outside the cave -- rather early in the movie, and is positioned for an entire life of that, even if that life might be rather shorter than anybody would like.
Her father Grug, however, has a strong arc. He desires to feed and protect his family. It's something he has at the beginning of the film, and then his ability to deliver is taken from him. Every strategy he has developed no longer applies, and his brain simply isn't built for coming up with new strategies. He descends deeper and deeper into failure while everyone else seems to enjoy the adventure.
Here come the spoilers. Hey, it's been a week. That's not exactly statute-of-limitations time, I know, but you've been warned. You have the power to stop reading.
There is a pivotal scene, and I do mean pivotal, in which Grug can reach his goal. The one thing he's good at -- being physically strong -- will let him save the family, but only by throwing them across a chasm to safety while he remains behind. So he does. He's a good father, a good protector.
And then the movie follows HIM instead of the family.
Hey, as plot-twists go this is no Sixth Sense reveal, but it really was wrenching. One moment you're rooting for Eep and the others as Grug gets his comeuppance for being dumb and unwilling to change, and then you realize that Grug is the one we really care about.
As a father of four who fancies himself a protector and provider, as a man with a pair of teenage daughters who have their hearts set on seeing more than just the cave walls, as a husband to a care-giver who often drags me in directions I didn't know the family needed to go, I wholly and completely identify with Grug.
And for that reason, this film rates pretty highly for me. Also, it was very well done. I laughed and I cried. And I might have cheered just a little.
Monday April 1, 2013
On a day no doubt filled with posts, tweets, and status updates that you cannot trust, I have nothing but truth for you. Why? Because I'm going on vacation, and this blog post is going to be up for more than just the one day.
Schlock Mercenary: Random Access Memorabilia has been nominated for a Hugo Award in the Best Graphic Story category. The other nominees include Grandville Bête Noire, Locke & Key Volume 5: Clockworks, Saga, Volume One, and Saucer Country, Volume 1: Run.
I've been inundated by well-wishers, and a few folks have told me that this is my year.
The Hugo Awards are not about taking turns or waiting in line. There is no "lifetime achievement" category for folks who have appeared on the ballot for years but never won. It's a fresh field every year. New works, new faces, and a new crop of voters. If you think I'm a shoo-in you should go read the rest of the ballot, and then vote for what you think is best, rather than voting for who's been sitting there the longest.
Why would I say this? Don't I want to win?
Of course I do, but more than that I want you to understand what a massive honor it is for me to have been nominated. The only way for you to have a full appreciation of that is for you to look at the company I'm now keeping.
And speaking of company, Writing Excuses Season 7 has been nominated for a Hugo Award in the Best Related Work category. Other nominees there are The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, Chicks Dig Comics: A Celebration of Comic Books by the Women Who Love Them, Chicks Unravel Time: Women Journey Through Every Season of Doctor Who, and I Have an Idea for a Book … The Bibliography of Martin H. Greenberg.
This is the third year that Writing Excuses has appeared on the ballot, and the fifth year that Schlock Mercenary has shown up. This brings to eight the number of rocket pins I can stick to my body. It is an honor just to jangle them around in my hand.
April Fools Day notwithstanding, this is the truth. No lie, no kidding.
Also no lie...
Many of you who did not get in on the Kickstarter have expressed an interest in pre-ordering challenge coins.
Wish granted: head over to https://schlockcoins.afterthecrowd.com and follow the instructions. You have to use PayPal to check out (it's all we could get working on short notice) and the numbered exclusives are gone (they were exclusive to the backers) but there are lots of lovely shiny things there. Also, if you lost or timed out on your original pledge manager link, you can request a new one at the link above using your Kickstarter email address.
If you have further questions about the pledge manager, please email email@example.com. Sandra and I are on vacation with our kids as of right about now, and would probably be sending your request on to Gary anyway.