Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Senescence: prologue

The working title of the conclusion to the Jez series is Senescence--the final stage of aging where your cells no longer renew themselves. Barring violence or disease, it is the death that awaits the entire human race. This story combines futurism, feminism, genetic engineering, and choices for our planet.

Prologue – T plus 13 years

“In the future, everyone will have their own channel,” the world’s richest woman announced to the crowd of reporters and news drones that followed her from her jet into the Welsh airport. Technically, Mira Hollis had over twenty blogosphere feeds dedicated to stalking her. As CEO for Fortune Enterprises, she was the most public and transparent executive ever. While her competitors analyzed every voice stress, groupies purchased the same clothes and makeup. She was corporate royalty. Her security handle was ‘Golden Goose.’ “With advances in microcameras and Internet capacity, everyone can have a safety feed. Imagine the elderly and young, monitored twenty-four-seven.”
A man from a competing mega-corp piped in. “Won’t the government use that to infringe on our privacy?”
Mira smiled. “They already do. In public places, there are an average of twenty-two cameras on each person in Great Britain. This will give the public a chance to see what their elected representatives are doing as well. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Who watches the watchers? Fortune Multimedia will give you that power.” Her own info-link broadcast verified references for each of her statistics, the official product announcement, and the Plato quote.
During the armored limo ride, through the green and sunny countryside, the online commentators speculated. “Actually,” corrected the fact guru, Martin, “That estimate is already obsolete. With the advent of the new crosswalk safety measures last month and the independence of the Faukland Islands, that average increases to twenty-three.”
Gavin, the history correspondent, said, “The real question is: why is she coming to Wales? Sheep don’t care about tech.”
The fact guru replied, “She has a lawyer on the flight manifest who isn’t an employee of Fortune. Eliot Cook a specialist in British estate law. She’s only used their firm once before…the week of the mass funeral for Alcantara Spaceport.” Three seconds of silence ruled, out of respect for the dead. “Her entire family was wiped out in the Algerian reprisal for the Ascension landing on the alien artifact.” A stream of hyperlinks scrolled across the connection.
Bunny, the social commentator squealed. “That’s when she met with that dream boat Kieran Llewellyn.”
Gavin groaned over the link.
Martin punched up pop-feeds on Kieran’s residence. “The Ascension Memorial Museum closed early today. Directional analysis confirms—we have a destination. Deploy the high resolution cameras for the arrival.” His feed shifted to a commercial while technicians hustled to stage the next scene.
Eager to fill in, Bunny said, “After the death of her friends and family, Mira inherited majority ownership of Fortune. She was also one of the only three surviving board members, known as the Triumvate. The Chinese-Muslim alliance had declared war on her company and placed a bounty on her head. She had to force herself to be strong. Only after the treaty, at the funeral, could she allow herself to be vulnerable.” Someone posted a photo of the handsome, red-head Kieran with his arm around Mira. “He was ten years older than her, but he had lost his family as well.”
“The Llewellyns are all womanizers,” Gavin complained. “The will left everything to Captain Llewellyn. As a penniless cousin, Kieran had nothing to offer her. That’s why their mutual media blackout only lasted three days.”
“Well, he must have offered her something pretty special, because she loaned him the millions to renovate the family estate,” Bunny countered. “He was the first Cinderfella… and the biggest.” This is what the bloggers called the men Mira slept with and then made into successes—all of them subsidiaries of Fortune Enterprises.
Gavin grumbled, “She arranged for Kieran to head the foundation to hold the family lands in trust. That’s all.”
“He became the most eligible bachelor in Wales after that, but he still hasn’t settled down.”
“We know the who and where. The question becomes: why now?”

Bunny replied, “It has been eleven months and three days since her last acquisition. The Golden Goose needs to get laid. Maybe she’s never forgotten him.” In the background, producers scrambled for recent photos of each to splice together into a heart-shaped frame. This feed went to commercial as the romance-gossip team prepared for the reunion of old flames after thirteen years.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Genocide in Oz

I was researching Sioux history for my next YA book (Shaman) and came across a quote from Frank L. Baum (Oz) that floored me. In Chapter 6 of "Native American Tribes: the History and Culture of the Sioux" by Charles River Editors:

"Our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up with one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth. In this lies future safety for our settlers and the soldiers who are under incompetent commands. Otherwise, we may expect future years to be as full of trouble with the redskins as those have been in the past."

Turns out that before he wrote children's stories, he was a newspaper publisher in the 1890's in South Dakota during the Indian Wars. This was from his editorial pouring salt in the wound of Wounded Knee.

From his Sitting Bull editorial  (which I quote from an NPR article by JJ Sutherland), he says, "The Redskin is extinguished, and what few are left are a pack of whining curs... The Whites, by law of conquest... are masters of the American continent. Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; better they die than live the miserable wretches that they are."

I just read a 2004 CounterPunch article explaining the yellow-brick road as the path to the Black Hills gold territory. He was explaining political realities to children, including the opium use. In his book about Santa Claus, the chapter entitled "the Wickedness of the Awgwas" reviles a fallen race who are now only "earthen hillocks dotting the plain"...after the Wounded Knee massacre. This article also points out KKK parallels.

The only people to criticize him for this recently was the Times of Israel when the new Oz movie came out. Turns out that Baum converted to Theosophy, which is also antisemitic. They claim Oz painted Baum spiritual journey. Evidently, he was heavily edited to tone down his racism, including pictures and poems which were anti-African. His descendants have since apologized to the Sioux.

My conclusion: The wicked witch was probably just the wrong color and killed in her sleep by a guest. The winner wrote history.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Review of Book Blogs

I'm flogging my latest book now and started with a list of 65 pages of YA blog names in a word document. I spent a great deal of time slogging through the blogs. In about 2.5 hours of surfing, I find 10 that may be a good fit for my book. Then I email the information requested to each blogger or fill out their forms. Most bloggers want the same title and five pieces of info about my story, so I mail (BCC) every two hours for the ones with the same content. Forgive me for not personalizing more, but I try to put the key filters for you to accept or reject in one line. Next, I paste the cover, and last the pitch. I feel like a door to door salesman and get that door slammed in my face a lot. Now, I get my say for a few minutes while the bruises are healing.

You have to right to put anything you want in your blog, but here are some suggestion after viewing hundreds.

  1. Professionals have a tab at the top called "policies" or "review policies" or a bolded subtitle in the About/Contact sections. It makes everyone's life easier.
  2. The contact section should have an email address or a form if you want people to contact you. If you don't want your email shared because of spam, say that and a professional will bcc or make one-to-one mailings. If you only respond to email with personal greetings, put that in the instructions, too, but be sure to put your name and gender in the about section. I don't know how to address a cat photo on a blog called AnarchyofHate.com or KnittingFun.
  3. If you have fewer than four followers or four books posted, you do not have the right to require 150 previous reviews on a book before you'll look at it. At that point, you need us for free stuff more than we need you for buzz. The biggest Kindle blogs only require ten.
  4. "I don't have an e-reader" is not an excuse. You have a computer and all the major formats have free readers for your PC/MAC/idevice. We're the majority now.
  5. "I don't read self-published" is blatantly hypocritical. Your blog is self-published.
  6. Be polite in your refusals. If you actually slam Indies for bad editing, make sure you spell check your own policies page.
  7. Put "closed to reviews" at the top of your policy page, not at the bottom of screen 16, or people will jump to the bottom and spam you.
  8. If you've been on "temporary hiatus" for two years, your blog is officially dead. My favorite was the policy page with the picture of the EPT stick positive.
  9. If all you review is romance, be honest and say so. Don't enroll yourself at a blog promotion site as YA. YA does not mean R-rated. If your "about" section say "I prefer Male on Male" or your featured book is "Wallbanger"... in fact, if every cover on your first screen is a woman in the throes of ecstasy, reconsider your self-classification.
  10. If you live in New Zealand, or any other island over 20 hours of flying away, take a reality pill and use an ereader. I'm not mailing you an ARC.
  11. Realize that your blog name is part of your brand and will affect the submissions to it. For example: if you have the word "Heaven" in your blog name, don't complain about being flooded by religious books.
  12. Reviewing classics that have been around for over 25 years isn't very interesting.
  13. Talking about only your own book isn't really a "book blog". This goes for publishing companies and authors both.
  14. Consider adding a Goodreads user link to see if your reading list is compatible with the author's. If nothing else, the two of you can see what each other likes in an automated fashion. I've made several friends this way, and we both build our following network.