Links of tangental relevance to my current life

Do you not get enough drama from your “friends” on Facebook?

Try following the antics of fictional friends on Fatebook.

Need a reason to stay up all night and fret about the future of humanity?

Robots with guns – soon!

Remember way back on my other blog, when I explained The Miserable Truth About Plastic Bottles?  No less than Slate.com agrees with me.

Forty years later: random facts about Apollo 11.

Have you just spent years writing the best RPG ever? Too bad.

The E-bbok debate nicely summarized in five points.

And now, because its been a while, further news on the antics of the octopi:

Spain’s Islands of the Gods. “But we’re content. We have our peace and everything we need: meat, octopus, goats, chicken and vegetables,” says Victoria, as she herds her goats into a stall.

And the journal Afarensis has compiled a survey of recent octopi literature including octopus ancestry, octopus porn, and a debate over whether octopi is actually a word in English.

Since “gianormous” is now in standard usage, I’m thinking yes.

Now You Know

WesternCon 62 Wrap-up

Back home, where the AC is not so cold at all…

More lessons from WesterCon 62:

Having two separate names for a Con does NOT help promoting it at all.

If you held a panel “Living with Asperger’s” – you would probably fill the room – for an hour of awkward conversation. [So ya know: this is not simply a casual interest of mine.]

If you’re a panelist and you go off at length about problem panelists dominating the conversation – guess what? Yeah. Horrified attendees will mock you on their blogs.

Sometimes the panel you most looked forward to attending turns out to be the least informative. So it goes.

In RPG’s at least, e-book sales did not measurably eat into print sales. Something for the rest of the publishing industry to note.

And now, in no particular order, links I have written down in my notes for one reason or another:

RPG Now for RPG e-book and more. Also: Warehouse 23 – for everything by Steve Jackson Games.

Middle-Earth for middle-graders: MEAG

If you’re going to self-publish, at least do it right with outfits lke this:

AZ Publishing Services

Looking for an agent, or just info about agents: Agent Query

and/or Query Tracker

(Oh – and agents do not frequent fan-orientated cons. They already have slush piles.)

Because I drank their booze and didn’t pay for it: The United Federation of Phoenix (Hooray! two, maybe three extra hits…)

Claudia Villa, costume designer who helped Kelly Sparrow (aka my daughter.) BTW, I’m best known around the Con as Kelly Sparrow’s father.

And she’s been warned that this is the last year she can get by on cute. Next year, she needs to work a bit more on her costume.

Pirate parties are the best.

Now You Know

Live from WesterCon 62

Sitting in my hotel room at the Temp Mission Palms, where I am attending WesterCon 62 – aka Fiestacon.

Here’s what we’ve learned since Friday morning:

Tempe Mission Palm’s claim of “high speed wireless” is somewhat optimistic. It is, however, free.

Notes from DIY Marketing panel:

* The author is the brand.

* Have a one sentence “elevator-pitch” for your work rehearsed and readu to fire for interviews (and random encounters at Cons).

* Your website is your #1 point of contact for potential consumers. Make it a good one that people can find. In this sense, a domain name pays fr itself.

* Get business cards specific to your art (not your day job) and leave some blank space on them.

* Free samples lead to sales. One way to do that: podcasting.

Your first novel is the one piece of writing least likely to be sold by a “pitch session”. Pitch sessions, while a legitimate if evil practice in film, are almost always scams in the book publishing trade. They want to read your manuscript.

Likewise, do not let a POD publisher convince you that the small press/ebook ocean is the fram team of big-time publishing. Folks have made it that way – but mostly by random coincidence.

“I already have a slush pile.” says Patrick Nielson Hayden, panelist and editor for Tor books.

So you know, agents and editors who are worth dealing with do, in fact, read at least a part of every manuscript in their slush pile. This is the system they have devised to find books they can sell. Write a good book. Get in the slush pile. That, despite the odds, is the surest path.

Don’t try to jump the curve writing towards what’s hot right now. What’s on the shelves right now represents what publishers were buying 2 or 3 years ago. Unless you have some insight into what will be hot in 2012, your surest approach is to write the novel you want to read.

On worldbuilding: “The world is there to support the characters, not the other way around.” says Diana Gabaldon. That said, the key is consitency. You only get to suspend belief so many times.

Magic the Gathering killed a lot of gaming stores. Here’s how: collectable card games have an opposite marketing strategy than regular RPG’s. RPG’s live on backlist: someone buys the intial core rules, then keeps coming back bit by bit to buy more things. Collectable cards, though, roll through stock on a regular basis. Players buy as much as they can afford as soon as they’re hooked, but then very little until the next expansion comes out. So, rather than having several books on the shelves indefinitely, you need to move the product quickly to make room for the enxt expansion.

The secondary effect was that because of the money Magic TG was bringing in, many gamestore owners sold out to investors who had no clue what to do when, a few years later, MTG lost it’s mana, and sale plummetted.

There were something ike 10,000 dedicated gamestores in the mid 90’s.Now there is something like 2500.

[my source was panelist Mike Stackpole.]

There will be more later about YA and writer’s groups and xenobiology.

Now You know.

A Splash of Quick Facts

It is safe for normal humans – and even Americans – to drink the water in Bogata, Columbia.

80% of the children in the Bahamas do not know how to swim. I know this because I’m on assignment about a woman who has taught water safety there.

The ABC’s of drowning awareness:

Always have your eyes on the kids

Barriers

Classes on first Aid and CPR

The Central Phoenix Writer’s Workshop drew twenty (20!) people last night. That’s double the size the format is designed for. So I am shifting to moderating a Thursday night meet-up, same time, same place, same format, different night.

My kids, particularly my son, I decided the like water polo – of all things – enough to participate in a team throughout the summer.

Wet Beaver Creek (oh- stop giggling!) Wilderness Area is closed to camping until 2010. Fire reasons, I think. Bummer. I’m still trying to pin down a logistically plausible hike for this weekend.

For the riggers: ZFX’s new No-go guage

Writer Louise Marley on E-books and other promising trends in publishing.

And more fuel for the e-book debate: statistics!

Now You Know.

Painful lessons, then links.

Kayaking does not help your tennis elbow at all.

The reason you secure financing in advance of shopping for cars is so you can categorically refuse to anything to do with dealer financing. I may have a lot more on that in 24 hours

“Yada-yada-yada” predates Seinfeld. I just heard it on a re-run from Cheers.

OK – some links:

The pig flu? Least of their problems south of Mexico. They’ve had a hudnred years of Chagas.

From TED: 10 things you don’t know about orgasms (Relatively SFW).

Don’t want to subsidize poor people’s health care with your hard-earned money. Too bad. You already are.

Greenland is melting – and that’s bad.

And more fuel for the e-book debate : The true costs of e-books.

A Backlog of Odd Discoveries

The plastic in common plastic drink containers can leach toxin – or not. Full treatement in my other blog: Are We Lost Yet?

The day you always knew was coming: robotic penguins.

Bill Moyers with David Simon, one of the creators of The Wire on HBO. Simon says, “This is what happens when you have a whole class of people that the economy has no use for…” That notion has been bothering me all week.

Earth Day came and went with the revelation that my children are more ecologically minded than I am by a full order of magnitude – and I’m relatively green by my generation.

For humans on earth, under relatively normal conditions, the size of an object that can be visually discerned in 1/500th of the distance of the observer. That’s just to identify that something’s there. So, at 500 meters, you could make out one meter objects – but you couldn’t tell if they were bumps or windows or painted squares. Identification starts at about 100/1.

That information derived from here. Yes. Really.

20/20 vision is normal – not perfect. Sharp-eyed humans can get to about 20/12. The 20/20 standard is actually fairly arbitrary – it refers to how far away the chart is. In Europe its 6/6 – six meters vs 20 feet.

Fun facts from NPR Science Friday:

Got skunked? Don’t waste yr time with tomato juice. Try this method instead. (Including the basic chemistry of skunk sprays…)

Basic info on the agave plant.

Now for the Writers:

YA Fiction gets no respect.

A 12-step program for publishers (Good luck with that…)

And WSJ on E-books and the future.

Did I mention I’m not sold on Kindle – or any other dedicated book-reader? I’m not. The price point is too high for something that isn’t much of an improvement over your PDA (which also does other useful things…).

Now You Know.