DMCA Musings and Muso

I found Muso DMCA Takedown service through Twitter. A well-known author in my genre tweeted about it and I thought I would give it a try, because I have to tell you the truth: I gave up playing whack-a-mole with illegal downloads of my work last year. I was spending an hour a day every morning tracking down the torrents and files, keeping records of the URLs, and serving DMCA notices through e-mail. When you’re already pressed to find time for writing, that hour becomes very precious. I realized I could either write new work, or I could spend my life trying to keep illegal downloads of old work out of the hands of readers.  When you look at it like that, the choice becomes easy.

Muso’s price is a little steep, around $20 a month in USD. I still haven’t decided if it’s worth it and I’ll need to compare sales numbers from before and after I began using Muso to see if it’s made a difference.

Not every pirated ebook automatically means a lost sale. I can’t make an accurate guess of the percentages, but my gut tells me that at least half of all of these types of downloads are acts of laziness. It doesn’t mean that every downloaded novel was actually read. It doesn’t mean that every downloaded novel would have been purchased if only it hadn’t been made so readily available for free. It doesn’t even mean that the person who downloaded it was necessarily looking for a book written by me, since I will often find my books being offered in a gay fiction compilation of hundreds of novels. Therefore, I can’t say that when I go to a site and see that the book has been downloaded 1,500 times that I’ve lost royalties for 1,500 novels. I haven’t. A large percentage of those downloads do not represent and would never have represented a sale, and that’s because when it comes to ebooks, downloaders tend to just grab everything, shove it on to the drive or their Kindle, and hope that they’ll get around to reading it someday.

So, generally speaking, an illegally downloaded e-book does not necessarily mean lost money for me.

Back to that laziness thing: people will not pay for something if it’s being offered free right under their noses. We can debate the morality of this mindset forever, but I’m more interested in the facts. Specifically, I’m more interested in how these facts can result in better sales numbers for me, and one of the ways to do that is to remove temptation from the board.

If it becomes difficult to find free stuff, if you make people work for it, they’ll often decide it’s just easier to cough up the pittance for the e-book at Amazon rather than spend an hour scouring torrents and visiting dodgy websites loaded with malware that could take their computer down in flames.  Again, not addressing the morality of taking stuff that doesn’t belong to you or of depriving us hard-working authors of our income, just observing how the system works.

And how it works is this: Muso removed over 30 pirated files of my work from general circulation in the past month, including 4 files from one site I had written off long ago as completely unresponsive. Since Muso will automatically re-file a DMCA notice for any copyrighted work that is not removed within 48 hours, it could be that I simply annoyed them enough to start deleting. When it comes to getting what you want, there are benefits to being a bother

The pros: you only have to fill in your information with Muso once. After that, everything is automatic or 1-click. You still need to maintain your campaigns, but the process becomes streamlined and much easier to deal with. You save time and you have the satisfaction of clicking a button and having something that was previously a huge pain in the ass taken care of for you.

You can never underestimate the value of kicking a pain in the tuckus to the curb.

With Muso, I feel like I’m actually getting something done about the piracy of my work, taking action instead of just passively letting it happen. It’s empowering to take back some control, and while it’s impossible to police every pirated copy, it’s satisfying to be able to deal with some of them.

The cons: Pricing could be cheaper. I don’t think they realize it, but breaching that $9.99 cap for digital service turns clients away. I mean, I love, but I don’t love it $14.99 a month. At that price, my brain will have to do its own training. Writers Market is $5.99. Domain hosting for my author website is $11.00 a month. You see where I’m going with this? You have to budget your Internet services, because we all have more than one. $20 is a large bite. That’s one third of my total monthly billing for cable Internet service, and it will be at least another quarter before I find out if was worth it. It would also make Muso the most expensive digital service I subscribe to. Perhaps an option for Indie authors at a reduced price level would be in order here.

Muso’s web interface is not difficult, but you’ll need to spend time getting familiar with it. On an organic intuition scale, usability is quite good. However, the “Add Files” option is almost useless. Human beings can find pirated files in ways that a search engine can’t, and that’s what the Add Files option is for, but of the more than a dozen times I tried to enter a file location, the form rejected all but one entry. The dynamic nature of the Internet is the culprit here (and the ingenuity of piracy sites, who are doing some sneakily clever things with Java) but I think that option could be improved. As it stands, if you find a pirated file on your own that Muso’s interface can’t handle, you still have to do the paperwork yourself.

So in conclusion, despite the price, I’m inclined to give Muso a few more months. My workload is lightened and there have been results. Only time will tell from here, but I’m going to recommend it to my fellow authors and see how it goes for them. Good luck, guys!

*BIG HONKING NOTE: I always add a addendum here about file sharing in countries outside the US, Canada, and Europe: In a lot of places around the globe, my novels are either not available, the price range is beyond the means of the reader, or homosexual material is forbidden by law.  In those cases, I can have no objection to file sharing.  All I ask is that once you find the books you want to read, just read them and enjoy. Heck, write and tell me about it. I’d love to hear from you. 🙂 Just please DO NOT RE-UPLOAD them back to file sharing, piracy & torrent sites. Share small!

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“Where can I find music for my book trailer video?”

*This blog post is not intended as legal advice. No, seriously. It’s not. You do your own thing at your own risk. Always thoroughly research any website or service you intend to do business with.


I see this question posted several times a week on Twitter, Facebook, and various blogs on my feed: “Where can I find music for my book trailer?”

The simple answer is, you can find it just about anywhere, but it’s not free. Another simple answer would be you can find it but it’s not always free. Even simpler: Nothing is free.

Sure, it would be AMAZEBALLS to find free music tracks just lying on the ground like gumdrop flowers in WonkaLand, free for us to use however we want. I’d also like free rent, free groceries, and my own personal Michael Fassbender Replicant (no expiration date), but those aren’t happening either. Musicians have to earn a living like everyone else, and expecting them just to give you their stuff to because you say you need it is an entitled worldview. No, scratch that. It’s a dickbag worldview.

Don’t be a dickbag.

If you want to use a song for a fandom creation (vidding, fanvids, etc), this falls under a different category than commercial use. Just go to and click on the Audio tab. There are thousands of Creative Commons songs there completely free for noncommercial use. This means you have to give credit for the song (and a link to the artist’s website would be super nice too!) but you don’t have to contact them or pay them. It means you can’t include their song in another collection of songs or alter the song substantially. For example, changing the rhythm or creating a new mix from their song, but you can cut it to fit your video timeframe.

If you want to use a portion of a popular song by a famous artist for your fanvid – and you have previously purchased the song for personal use –  this may or may not fall under the Fair Use clause of copyright. Using only a portion of the track is more likely to place in the gray area of Fair Use, but using the entire song almost certainly infringes upon the artist’s copyright. Yet, there are possibly millions of these fan-made videos with famous song tracks on YouTube. Why haven’t they been taken down?

Sometimes they are. The general answer is that there simply aren’t enough resources to police every single song, TV show, or movie on the Internet, and the harder studios and recording labels crack down on fans sharing material among themselves, the more ill-will it generates between media/content provider and audience. Obviously, this is counterproductive to a consumer environment dependent on actual fans.

Another reason that fandom creations manage to fly under the radar of legality is because they don’t generate any income. The moment you introduce cash to a fandom equation, the demarcation lines move and corporations get protective. Without profits, corporations cease to exist.

A book trailer is meant to advertise a product: your book. Therefore you need a commercial license, not a Creative Commons. If you want to use a song from Newgrounds for commercial use, you’ll have to contact the artist personally and ask them for permission. They may or may not require a fee for this. If your website does not generate ad revenue, the license may be less. If you intend to load your book trailer onto or Vimeo, then it might depend on whether or not you’re being paid ad revenue from your channel traffic.

By now you’re nodding your head and thinking “Wow, this is complicated.” Well, so is writing a book. If you wanted easy, you should’ve chosen a different profession. Maybe lumberjack or weasel-herder.

You also may have to get past the natural enthusiasm of a fledgling musician who suddenly has an author contacting them about their song. It’s astonishing that some people still see dollar signs when they hear “author”, even though the reality of that image should be pennies tucked into our scuffed loafers with the run-down heels.

“An author contacted me about using my song for their advertising! I want $500 every time they play it!”  

Yeah.  No. Back to reality. Let’s talk about some sites that license music tracks.

Unless you really do have enough disposable cash to start a bonfire, I don’t recommend Greenlight . A random sampling – clicking around on their website and entering in the information that the average author would provide (online advertising, 1 year, under 2 minutes) – Greenlight arrived at prices between $8,000 and $45,000.

You may commence hyena laughter now.

Songfreedom listed a quoted price of $34.99 per track, but they had no price-quotes specifically for background music for video.  According to the FAQ on their website, authors would need to obtain a streaming license for this purpose, and there were no prices for streaming. It’s a bad sign when there’s no price.

Musopen claims to be a free music source and the five songs that I sampled from the website were attributed under a Creative Commons Public Domain license. For more information on what this is, go here . This could make Musopen a possible source for authors hunting for free music they can legally use commercially, but I had difficulty navigating their website and their Terms of Use page seemed to randomly close on me. In short, do some research before using songs from this site. also looked hopeful. While not free, their quoted prices for advertising licenses were in the feasible range for an author seriously looking to promote their book, between $90 and $270. It’s worth checking out. also showed potential, but they had no specific category for book trailers or product advertising, and their prices varied widely between services offered (from $6-$450). Basically, you need more info, and with so many other resources available, I’m not sure it’s worth your time.

Playtunes has a nifty interface and is a subscription-based service. Again, inexpensive and promising, and their stated conditions of use include “an audio or video production, website, app, computer game, slide-show, etc.”

While that doesn’t specifically mention “book trailer”, a reasonable interpretation would be video production. Their subscriptions begin at Free, where you buy credits at $10 a pop, with each track worth between 1 to 3 credits each.  Monthly unlimited downloads start at $129, which could make Playtunes a viable resource for publishers and videographers.

And that’s all I had time to research today. 🙂 Leave your own resources, links, and suggestions in the comments, and good luck finding your music.

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How to Bake An Internet Furor


Measure  2 lbs self-rising flour.

Have an audience.

Make a Secret List.

Reveal to audience that there is a Secret List, but take no responsibility for creating the List.  Inform that it was a poll.

Mix flour with milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil.

Reveal that there are people in the audience who may or may not be on the List.

Do not tell audience who is on the List. Or not on it.

*Refuse to divulge statistical numbers of actual poll respondents. Turn oven on. Watch it heat up.

State that the people on the List are “must-haves”, which places those not on the Secret List on the “not-must-haves” List. (Yes it really is quid pro quo. It’s the internet. Don’t give me that Bambi look.)

Place mixture in heated oven while audience begins to cook to a slow boil. Say something about unfortunate wording and inadvertent offense. Ignore the fact that the wording of a newsletter is secondary to the reality that there IS a list and telling writers that there IS a secret list and then not telling them whether or not they are on it or not is not like throwing gasoline on a fire, no, it’s like throwing another tanker of gasoline on a gasoline tanker fire.

Set timer. Calmly claim that angry audience members misinterpreted the meaning of simple phrases.  (Don’t feel bad. Bill Clinton tried this one. Didn’t work out for him, either.)

Apologize for not taking into consideration the insecurities of the audience.

Fail to exercise self-criticism on wisdom of creating any List at all that you’re not prepared to own. Instead, why not place the blame of the resulting negativity on the shoulders of vapid, low-sales authors motivated by jealousy?

Listen to timer making frantic ding-ding-ding noises.

Have representative organizers make blanket statements about the emotional and/or ego-driven motivations of those who object to the List. Meanwhile, cake in oven has begun to resemble a poisonous atomic mushroom cloud.

Timer hops around the room like a Jack Russell cyborg terrier.

Do not implement the reasonable arguments made against the List that are put forth in a civil manner. Instead, focus on the members hurling insults, spreading rumors, and stomping, where you are clearly in the right.

Imply that you really expected more mature and professional behavior from authors.

Watch timer explode. Watch cake explode. Watch internet explode.

Start sweeping.



And that’s how you bake a wank cake.

Listen, authors and readers, I have no present plans to attend Gay Romantic Lit. I haven’t been asked to attend GRL. No one has sent me any secret invite. I have no agenda, other than to make a blog post about a topic that has me interested. If I get asked to attend, I may or may not, but if I do (or don’t) it won’t have anything to do with GRL’s announcement, simply because I don’t think they deliberately did anything wrong.

Listen GRL organizers: everyone who criticizes you is not your enemy. It therefore doesn’t default that the recent criticisms leveled against GRL stem from the finest motivations, either. Some of what is being said about envious and protective authors behaving badly is (sadly) true. I know that my own Jellus-O-Meter starting ticking when I read the newsletter, but I refuse to feed that beast. None of that means that GRL is infallible.

You fucked up. Face it.

You didn’t fuck up by creating an author cap. Author caps are wise and reasonable in this venue. I support the author caps.

You didn’t fuck up by letting people know there WAS an author cap. There was one last year, too, and this didn’t happen.

You fucked up with a seriously ham-handed delivery to your audience of method, presentation, and response. That’s all. F minus on all three.  But it’s not the end of the world. This can be fixed.

#1: Discard the list. If you’re not willing to reveal poll numbers, that shouts to people that the numbers were weak. It’s a huge gap in the process of fairness (which should be transparent) and so far you’re focusing on being annoyed that people will not stop focusing on the poll numbers. This is a non-viable method of defusing the situation. Authors will never, ever stop obsessing over numbers.

#2: Make your own executive-decision list of author invitations. No one that I’ve read disputes your right to do that. They only dispute the creation of an opaque list attributed to no one.

#3: Take responsibility for your list.

There’s still a great deal of goodwill out there for GRL. I have goodwill for the convention. I think it’s a wonderful, inclusive enterprise and I acknowledge the hard work and time out of their busy lives that the organizers have invested into it. It’s their baby, and I respect that.

But if hard work made you a saint, there would be statues of me everywhere. 🙂 We’re all human and none of us are prescient. Obviously if the GRL organizers had somehow been able to know what kind of response they’d receive from their newsletter announcement, they would have re-calculated and gone in another direction. I have no doubt of that, and the statements made that the organizers deliberately set out to make GRL divisive and elitist should not be taken seriously. GRL also can’t be blamed for getting snippy and hurling  back some of the same noxious poo that was being hurled at them. If anything, I’m amazed at their restraint. If that had been me, I doubt that any of my responses would have been printable.

This was simply a flawed procedure that was handled poorly, but the longer GRL keeps insisting that there is no flaw, the harder it’s going to be to recover from the bad PR and start mending fences.

Let’s all get to work, huh? 🙂



*You can deduce this number with a little work, based on attendance and the number of attendees who have stated they did not fill out a poll.


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My Weinerific Take on “Please Don’t Pirate My Book Day”.


I want my money.

No, let me rephrase: I NEED my money.

That said, I completely grok that this isn’t always possible. Distribution & availability are very real barriers in some locations of planet Earth. National law can also be a barrier. In some countries (where I know my books are read anyway, yay!), it’s illegal to own a copy of my work, because reading material of a homosexual nature is forbidden and often punishable. In those cases, I’d like to air-lift an emergency payload of gay romance novels for the populace to wallpaper the sidewalks with.

Sigh. Oh Humans, why you so dumb and mean?

In some countries, the exchange rate for my books makes their pricing laughably out of reach. And yet, people still want to read them. I know, because I’ve heard from those people. So what to do?

First off, I try not to be a hoo-hoo. If you can’t afford my book, then you just can’t afford it and that’s that. I believe you. Given the choices of you never reading it and never giving me any money, or simply lifting it and reading it, I’d rather you lifted it and read your little heart out. The math says that I was never making any $$ in that scenario anyway, so really, it’s a win for me.

Speaking of winning, my real problem with e-piracy is when people try to win the Wiener of Coolness award among their peers by zipping ALL of my books into a file and uploading to a huge, popular sharing site accessible by, well, the whole world, thereby making my very own sweat-of-my-knuckles work free to the world. Their reward? Favorable comments and thanks you’s from the sharing masses.

I once pressured a particular wiener to take the file down and the comments started to swing my way, but they weren’t exactly favorable. “Xxx went to all that work to upload and poof! Just like that, that work was wasted by the selfish author!”

And then my brains leaked out through my nose like the raspberry jelly of stupid, because WHAT?

I don’t argue ebook piracy in real-time any more. I just don’t. There’s no point, because any way you slice that stinky cheese, the person you’re arguing with believes that their POV is the correct one and nothing you say will sway them. You hear me? NOTHING! You’re a toadying, stingy jerkface sell-out to the mega-corp Man and you probably spend your days in bed rolling on all the money you’ve made, so poopy on you, greedy author bastard blaaaarghhhh!


omg I'm never going to be  able to afford the next issue of Teahouse!

omg I’m never going to be able to afford the next issue of Teahouse!


Yeaaaaah. No. That’s not my life. I wish that was my life.

I don’t mind friends sharing my books among each other or a small circle, or even a largish circle. That’s what friends do. That’s what books do. But if you’re a friend of mine, what you won’t do is upload my books to a public mega-sharing/torrent site, because wieners-in-waiting also fondly dreaming of the Wiener of Coolness will absolutely swipe that file and upload it to their own account, which in turn gets swiped and uploaded by another wiener, and so on and so on.

That’s when it starts to matter to me financially: when I Google myself and Google suggests you get a free illegal download of my work along with visiting my website. I mean, thanks for the fucking web-hit and all, but sheesh!

Lemme sum up: I’m not against file sharing. I’ve never been against file-sharing. What I’m against is being broke and not getting paid for doing my job, and yet, like a thousand other jobs that we do for free in our lifetimes, I realize I can’t always be compensated.

And I’m good with that. Just… remember I’m a person, too, ok?


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Review thoughts on “The Following”


Image property of FOX TV

Image Credit: property of FOX Broadcasting

I would have enjoyed this show more if it contained a plot I could suspend disbelief for. I’m a big fan of James Purefoy, so I’ve been looking forward to this show for months.

Complicated back-stories reaching back several years works for fictional fantasy worlds like Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings. It often doesn’t work so well for urban crime fiction. Can you imagine visiting the childhood of Patrick Bateman in flashbacks of American Psycho?  It’s unnecessary and it muddies the storytelling with an effort to make the tale seem larger than it is or to add depth to an overly-simplistic plot. An exception to that is the  Hannibal series by Thomas Harris, but those are in a category of their own anyway.

The Following would have worked much better as a supernatural thriller. Kevin Bacon simply informing the audience in reminiscent dialogue that Joe Carroll (the serial killer villain, played by James Purefoy) is a gifted, mesmerizing teacher and cult figurehead was careless writing. I understand that the writing has to conform to a strictly-timed format and the segments are limited, but I saw no evidence of Joe Carroll’s great charisma in either the writing or the portrayal. Aside from the facts that (1) it would be very unlikely that Joe Carroll could find a single follower willing to kill for him and that  (2) psychopaths generally do not function that way;  Carroll finding a group of followers willing and societally able to dedicate years of their lives perpetuating lifestyle facades to get close to his “unfinished masterpiece” and help him murder her would be… astronomical.

Not like finding a needle in a haystack astronomical, but like finding a single specific needle in a stack of needles the size of Oregon.

That’s not to say you can’t write a show about a conspiracy of murderers colluding for a single purpose and make it work, because you can. Look at The Omen. Look at The Wicker Man, or Rosemary’s Baby. See a pattern yet?

As soon as it became apparent that there were conspirators working with Joe Carroll and the whole cult framework reared its head, I began to think of Lord of Illusions. More than a few themes of The Following closely mirror Lord of Illusions, but without the supernatural element. To be honest, I’m a little puzzled as to why they decided to leave that element out. It would have explained so much and also neatly dispensed with the faulty psychology holding the large-scale cult plot together. Why does a cult of aspiring serial killers pull together to follow this man? He’s a demon. See? That makes sense now.

But Joe Carroll is no Nix and The Following is too far-fetched to be labeled serious or gritty, though it certainly qualifies as a thriller. Sadly, since I was not feeling any of the characters, the first episode succeeded neither as a relationship-driven story or a horror story for me, but I always give new shows 3 episodes to prove out.  Here’s hoping.

Another thing: I laid bets with a friend a few weeks ago that the chosen victims of The Following were going to be attractive young women. Corpses of the week, basically, picked for no other logical reason than being pretty. I know that conforms to the Poe connection the killer has, but it’s careless and it’s creepy and smacks of deliberate construction to serve an unpalatable purpose, like killing pretty women onscreen is more liable to garner an audience than offing truckdrivers or something. I was let down to win that bet. I hope I don’t win it next week.

If you watch TV crime shows for the actors, urban settings, and mature writing without being too critical, then watch The Following, because there’s some nifty camera work, hues, and music choices in there. Otherwise, it’s a lot of shock value for not enough payoff. Only you can decide if that works for you.

But I’m going to watch it next week, because I still have hope for it and, hello, James Purefoy. 🙂

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Review: That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote, by K.J. Bishop

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of corresponding with author K.J. Bishop and was fortunate enough to read the manuscript of her new anthology, That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote, prior to publication. She was kind enough to mention me in her acknowledgements, and I’m thrilled to finally be able to write this review and hopefully steer you to Amazon (it’s available in Kindle format in the US and UK, and soon in paperback) to immediately purchase it.

That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote
Because I care about you guys like that. Seriously, don’t miss out on this one. It’s genius.

It’s no secret how fond I am of the writing of K.J. Bishop, or of Kirsten herself, who is a pretty nifty human. It seems almost inadequate to dub her an author. She’s more like an artist of prose, but nothing so mundane or harmless as painting with letters. More like carving with an alphabet sword. There’s a quality about her writing that feels like wandering through a green garden overgrown with curious plants and bizarre structures:  Here’s a bush trimmed in the shape of a lion with the head of a goose. Here’s a stone well full of stars instead of water. And here, strangest of all, is a misty path that endlessly leads back onto itself like a Mobius strip, bringing back versions of the same you, all slightly changed and speaking a different language.

Yes, that’s exactly how it is.

Fans of Bishop’s The Etched City (nominated for the World Fantasy Award in 2004) will be excited to read more about Gwynn in his full, black-hearted glory in The Art of Dying, and a somewhat toothier version of him in She Mirrors, both stories touching on the past and future of one of the most interesting not-villains of Bishop’s worlds.

One of my favorite stories of the collection is a very short one titled Last Drink Bird Head.

“Last Drink Bird Head didn’t fit in at school. When the others were candles, she was lemons. When doors closed she was on the wrong side. She hated the flavour of milk and cellophane. When she jumped rope she was a merry-go-round horse with an orange face. She couldn’t sit down anywhere, not even on the toilet, without saying ‘Last Drink Bird Head’ three times. When it was her turn to feed the goldfish she fed them glitter and they died.”

It’s all a bit insane, isn’t it? Beautifully, dreadfully so. While some of the stories – like the delightful cyberpunk Beach Rubble, or the upside-down apocalyptic The Heart of a Mouse – are fully-realized tales, others are like snatches of nightmare or the conversations of a fever dream. Mother’s Curtains  is one such fragment, and packs a big punch for being so brief. There must be some kind of magic to that.

I believe I’ve begun to think of Bishop’s writing as a gleeful vacation from reading the way you’ve been taught you’re supposed to read. Rules here are about as necessary as pitchforks for soup. Here’s a temptation to take the analytical shades off and walk barefoot through alleyways and prisons, velvet-curtained brothels and the edges of black cliffs. Take the invitation, but watch your back when a citizen of her world passes by, because they’re all a little touched.

Website: K. J. Bishop



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The Next Big Thing Blog Tour

How do you follow a subject line like that? Just don’t. Save yourself the embarrassment and get on with the show. The proof is in the pudding, the Borg is in the nanoprobe tubule, and all that.

Big, BIG thanks to the fabulous Alekzander Voinov for tagging me, and to Liesel Schwarz for tagging him first!

1) What is the working title of your next book?

“Hammer and Bone”

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

Most of the stories came from dreams, or nightmares, as the case may be. I had this one very vivid dream that serves as the jumping-off point for “Hounds”, one of the longer tales in the book.

In my dream, I was hiding. The sky was black and starless, but it wasn’t a night sky, and I was beneath an invisible net. The net wasn’t magic. There was a technology to it. I was trying to shield myself and two others from fanged, armored creatures manning a great wall not far away. If they found us, I knew they’d kill us, and I also knew that we were completely outmatched. They had projectile weapons and beams on the towers, we had only knives. We were about to be discovered, and suddenly one of the women began to sing, and I knew -I just knew- that the song would save us. I knew the song, I knew the name of the singer, I knew everything.

It’s hard to encapsulate a vision, to shrink one blazing moment of understanding into the kinds of words that will translate a nascent (and imaginary) experience to a reader, but I attempted it in “Hammer and Bone”. Borg, nanoprobe, pudding.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

The stories are steampunk, speculative, dark fantasy, and horror.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh wow. Well, if I could pick anyone, I’d choose Angela Basset for the sharp, smart, and deadly Notch, but Loretta Devine would be equally amazing. Simon Woods for Roben, because there’s something strong but breakable in that character, and also because he just looks like Roben to me. Logan Lerman for the disillusioned and abandoned Prince Arin. Kevin McKidd for proud Veron and Djimon Hounsou for the eminently practical Nulf Asoka.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

13 dark, cross-genre tales with a queer slant.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It’s under contract with Riptide, presently in development.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

All in all, about a year.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I feel ridiculous and arrogant comparing my writing to the novels of authors I admire, but others have compared it to books like “Wormwood” or “Are You Loathsome Tonight?” by Poppy Z Brite (Billy Martin), or works by Caitlin R. Kiernan or Clive Barker.

The problem with comparison here is that not many authors publish whole anthologies of their shorter works, so there’s a limited pool of examples. I’m going with what editors have told me about my writing style and the manuscript.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

They were the dreams that never went away, so…thank you nuerotransmitters? Just kidding. I credit K. J. Bishop’s work as inspiration. I dream the way she writes, I think; lush colors, stark images, detail, and sudden bursts of insight. Bishop’s “The Etched City” is like a stolen spyglass into a lucid dreamworld, and although “Hammer and Bone” is nothing at all like TEC, I hope to capture the same reaction in my readers that she snared me with.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s got zombies, but they’re not your usual shamblers. Werewolves, but not the shaggy kind. Heroes who don’t fit the hero model and victims who are anything but. It’s like waking up to living someone else’s life: you wouldn’t know where you were or recognize the people around you. You’d have to work to get your bearings, and the curveballs would be vicious.

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Sexy Bastards: Do female gamers demand more of their heroes? (Assassin’s Creed 3)

Quite often, when you boot up that new game in your Xbox or PlayStation or Wii, it all begins with character customization. The ones that don’t have customization have premade characters or single heroes that you play as they are, as the game designers meant them to be. In other words, there’s no “Make Him Sexy” option. Unless of course the main character is a heroine, as those tend to be created sexy by default. There’s no such button to sexualize the persona of your male hero, and if he isn’t created that way, you use your imagination or you’re just out of luck.

Or you write fanfiction, but that’s another story.

Anyway… when a guy (a straight guy, mind you) is playing a male character in-game, he doesn’t necessarily need the character to be sexy. I’m sure most men think it would be a nice bonus, but it isn’t required. As long as the game rocks and the hero slays, it’s a hit.  That isn’t always true of female gamers, and a hero who doesn’t show sentiment and/or have a love interest often fails to resonate with women.

Take Ezio Auditore da Firenze, the character who is credited with drawing female gamers en masse into the Assassin’s Creed universe. First and foremost, Ezio has very strong emotions. We see those feelings in his youthful street brawling, in the pursuit of his first love, and in his reactions to the devastating losses he incurs. Ezio’s emotions are tempered by his strength, but he’s also charming, funny, crafty, sentimental, sarcastic, and, yes, a womanizer.  He’s the James Bond of the Italian Renaissance, and we love him. Female gamers showed that love in a thousand different ways: in fanfiction, artwork, cosplay, online communities, and with cold, hard cash.

So why, when it came time for a new assassin to take the helm -or hood. Whatever-  did they offer us someone as mundane as Connor Kenway?  Connor has strong emotions, but they’re mostly negative. While his loyalty to his cause and his determination to protect his people from the Templars does him credit, because he shows few other emotions beyond those (annoyance and impatience don’t count), he’s about as fun to be around as a sack of wet cardboard.

While it feels like the gaming world is skewing toward more female-inclusive themes, I’m not sure it really is, because designers forget or ignore the fact that female gamers aren’t just different on the outside.  For a male hero to garner more universal appeal to a female audience, he has to be complex. He must display more than two emotions and he has to be a man in full, not just muscle and good looks. That means love, that means humor, that means sensuality.

Connor Kenway is a lot of things, but no one could ever accuse him of being funny or sexy. One thing he does have going for him – his saving grace in my opinion – is his endearing gentleness toward weaker creatures or those in need. It gives me hope that we’ll see Connor evolve to a more full-fleshed personality in the AC renditions to come.


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Lengthen night and shorten day

Daylight Savings Time feels like a good day for an unveiling , so here’s my new website & blog design. What do you think? I waffled for a long time on background, color, theme, etc., but what really stymied me was getting the blog and website to mesh seamlessly without paying a web designer to tackle the code. In the end, I settled for modifying an established WordPress theme that most closely resembled my website.

Of course, I’d love to be able to pay a designer, which is just not going to happen 2 months before Christmas.  I’m sure a veteran pro could have done a better job, but my monkey-wrench css efforts will have to hold me over until 2013.  I still have a few more tweaks to make, font colors and such, but for the most part, this is it. Premiere time!

Writing continues at a steady pace, and I finished two other full-length novels. For more news, visit here. The page will be updated as soon as I have anything to tell you about publication dates, and of course I’ll mention it here, too.

Here’s hoping my shiny new overhaul will poke me to keep in touch with my readers and be more active here. I’ve finally been swallowed up by the great and benevolent Twitter Whale and am comfortable there, and Tumblr is cute as a button. Facebook just isn’t my cuppa (I lack the necessary time and dedication to make FB work for me) and as much as I love Livejournal, I think that particular equine beast is all but expired.I’ve decided to use LJ only for fandom squeeing about Michael Fassbender and Copper on BBCA.

Comment away. A story is calling me.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The King of Rshan, being an ass


My brain on Liall


Okay, maybe he’s not behaving badly. Maybe there is some *koff koff* validity to his complaint. I’m working on making him happy. <3

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I’ve got a new novella for sale, blog tour coming up

Circuit Theory, co-written with Reya Starck.

Dante and Byron are avatars. Driven by human beings, yet still only
digital representations of their ideal selves. In reality, they live far
apart, but share most of their waking and working hours together in a
virtual world called Synth.

In Synth, like in most code, the laws are infinitely more simple and
infinitely more complex. Navigating the system rules of virtual lovers
is like steering through a minefield of deceit, suspicion, heartbreak,
and half-truths.

Under pressure, Dante makes a friendship that trips Byron’s warning
bells, disrupting their carefully-ordered lives and calling into
question the wisdom of trusting your heart to a man you can never touch
in the flesh.

Circuit Theory  is
a futuristic, occasionally quirky bit of fiction about people choosing to use their online avatars for either emotional fulfillment or as an extension of their everyday selves. There  have been stories told on this theme before, but those narratives are usually a cautionary tale meant to warn humans of the spiritual danger of relying on technology for what they should be getting from other humans, a sort of Aesop’s fable for Web 2.0.  We were incredibly bored by the idea of shaking our fingers at technology, so instead we took a look at how digital romance could – for lovers like Dante and Byron – solve at least as many problems as it creates.
Reya and I will be over at Amara’s Place for an interview on the 30th, and there will be a drawing and prizes at the end of the day, so please drop by and chat with us.
*cover art by LC Chase
Posted in Writing | 1 Comment

Hop Against Homophobia Winners!

Everyone who left a comment  in the last 2 entries. 🙂  Hey, this means I give away 22 ebooks, but I figure that anyone who took the time to browse here (and I’m #218 on the list!) and comment is already dedicated to the cause of ending homophobia. That means something to me.

I do believe that WordPress sent me most of the emails of the commenters, but if for some reason it didn’t or you would like an ebook other than Book 1 of Scarlet and the White Wolf, please drop me a line at my email (see below) and I’ll get to it. I’ll begin sending them out on Friday, so you have until then. Thank you ALL for participating in such a worthy cause. <3

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hop Against Homophobia Winners!

Hop Against Homophobia


Hi there!

I think I’m something like #225-ish on the Blog-hop list, so here goes: I decided to make 2 posts about homophobia. I had a little trouble making a segue from my previous post, so I double-dipped. Also, whoever gets this far will have to have read more than 200 blogs before getting to me, so I needed to keep it short!

I doubt there’s a gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer or transgendered person alive who hasn’t experienced homophobia in some form, or had to hide who they are to keep themselves safe from it. Homophobia isn’t a single malady: it is countless symptoms all throughout our society, at every level. I don’t see an end to homophobia in my lifetime, but I do hope to see a shift toward that inevitable end. I hope for that very, very much.

I have a very special Scarlet and the White Wolf prize for a commenter I’ll pick at random, so please just leave a note to be entered. The Hop Against Homophobia ends May 20th, and I’ll announce the winner here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Don’t Let Them Waste Your Time


“It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.”

-Rene Descartes




When I was little, my mother told me that love is strongest of all, but hate is “a whole lot louder.”

That’s why, contrary to wisdom and justice both, hate so often wins.

When you know someone hates you without reason, the natural impulse is just to hate ’em right back. It’s hard not to answer a shout with a shout, a curse with a curse, wrong for wrong.

Kindness is not an abstract. Anyone can be kind to friends and family. Being loving towards those that we love is not difficult, and it isn’t a sacrifice. Being pleasant and making efforts on behalf of others is also not a huge chore. But being kind towards people whom we know don’t actively love us (which is a nice way of saying they hate our guts), well… that’s a hard row to hoe. Why do we even have to do that? What do we owe to the hateful homophobes in the world?

Nothing. We don’t owe them a single damn thing, not even kindness. But we don’t owe them hate, either, and they want us to believe that we do.

When you return hate, in some ways you’re giving that hateful person exactly what they want from you. You’re affirming their desire to be your desire, too. You’re interacting with that desire and allowing them to feed off it, from your source.

Because hate is often a long-lasting thing, many psychologists today don’t believe hatred to be a temporary state of emotion in human beings, but often a disposition toward hating, period.

In other words, haters gonna hate. There isn’t much you can do about that. The only action you’re left with that’s entirely your own is to take charge of the fight. Refuse to feed the negative desires of others, because every ounce of energy you put into hating them back is one less ounce you could be putting toward ending homophobia.

Don’t let them distract you and waste your time, because you, your friends, your family, and everyone reading this who believes that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer folk are entitled to the same rights, privileges, and protections under the law as everyone else, have much, much better things to do with your lives.

Here are some of those better things.

The Trevor Project

It Gets Better


Lambda Legal

The Matthew Shepard Foundation

The Point Foundation

International Day Against Homophobia



Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

It’s Earth Day. Let’s Make Some!

If you’ve got a flash drive, you can make a world

I’ve recommended this before to friends who wanted to know where/how to get started in 3D Creation (known just as Building to those of us addicted to it), but in case I haven’t mentioned it here, SOAS (Sim on a Stick) is about the niftiest thing ever. Basically you plug in your USB flash drive, install a few programs onto the drive (all zipped together conveniently and ready for download on the SOAS website) and boom, your own private virtual world is ready for your commands, with endless modifications and customizations available. The only limits are your imagination and how much time you’re willing to dedicate to hone your Building skills.

The reason that SOAS is the coolest nerd thing since pop rocks is because you can take it with you. The compactness itself, the very idea of slinging an entire virtual world into your pocket, is what appeals. I know there are comparisons – for instance, just about any Xbox game will fit into your purse – but unlike other online MMO’s that must have an internet connection or a dedicated gaming console, you can take Sim on a Stick anywhere with you, plug it into any relatively recent computer USB drive, and it should run. By recent, I mean within the last 4 or 5 years. My workhorse desktop is that old (I’ve made a few mods, mainly video card and RAM), and SOAS runs just fine.

This is the brand new world inside my flash drive using the latest build of SOAS. It doesn’t have any homes or structures yet, just a name (I’ve called it The Riverlands. Hello, Game of Thrones). It has mountains and water, and an avatar that I’ve dedicated zero time to customizing. I did quite a lot of work on my last world (Horus), but it was a little buggy (user error, not program) and I managed to mess it up. I wanted to start again with a clean slate.

In case you’re thinking this all looks too complicated for your tech level, it’s not. Building in 3D can certainly get complicated, but compiling the world itself has been streamlined to idiot-proof levels, which is quite handy for us idiots. If you can unzip a folder, you can do this.

I should mention that the latest build of SOAS has the option of not having a viewer compiled with the zip folder. In order to enter a virtual world, you not only have to have the world available, you need a viewer capable of interfacing with it. If you follow the help link into the SOAS website, you can download the Custom SOAS Imprudence viewer that will not only teleport you into your own world (localhost), but many other virtual MMO’s.

Happy Nerding!

PS: Okay, I missed Earth Day. Because I spent it planting tomatoes, I think I should get a pass to make my Earth Day post today instead. Yes, I do.

Posted in Hypergrid Adventures | Comments Off on It’s Earth Day. Let’s Make Some!

Author-Type Swag (DIY)

Previously posted to my LJ, but I’m trying to get back into the swing of posting at my blog here after the Big Health Scare, so here ya go.

So, we all know what a QR Code generator is. If you have a business card or any print publicity materials, you should have your QR code somewhere on it, and it would be totally awesome if I could convince publishers to start adding them to my print books from now on. While they’re really cool and recognizable just the way they are, it’s even MORE COOL if you have a custom QRC.

Hackaday tells you how to put one together using Photoshop and the QR generator, but the how-to is really long and – IMHO- unnecessary. I just got my code, read through the Hackaday guide to quickly find out where the “don’t touch” boundaries are on the image, and then just pasted a few images inside the “okay” zone.

Here’s the result.

If you have a smartphone with a QR reader app like RedLaser, just put it up to the screen there and let it read the code. Yep. The little crow takes you right to my website.

Now isn’t that neat? 🙂

PS: re Big Health Scare has been given the negative by specialists (the problematic and in-a-weird-place lump in my throat has been diagnosed as a benign cyst), so I can stop going to doctors for the time being and head back to writing. Thanks for being patient with  me.

Posted in Code Monkey Say What? | 1 Comment

Dead Space


No, not the game. I’m talking about temporary spaces inside the virtual landscapes of MMORPG’s, spaces that are only open for certain periods of time – such as special events – but closed off to the rest of the game ‘verse when the event is over. After the event is over, I like to imagine that those spaces enter a kind of paradox where they patiently await the return of the players, biding time until the space is reenergized by the act of observation, a sort of Schrödinger’s Cat of RPG. The NPC’s are still running through their animation files, particles still emit, the wav files still play, but there are no players to hear them.

If a wav file plays in the mesh forest and there is no level 65 tank to hear it, does it still make a sound? (continued)

Read the rest at


Comment here, there, anywhere. 🙂

Posted in Code Monkey Say What? | 3 Comments

“The Rite”


Roy Batty

I’ve been thinking about Roy Batty lately, probably because I watched The Rite on HBO Monday and Ruger Hauer had a supporting role as the young priest’s father. As usual, RH did a fine job and it was fun watching him. The only other movies I have of him not speaking English are Turkish Delight and Soldier of Orange. A friend sent me this gif file. Don’t know where it came from (other than Bladerunner), but it’s lovely, yeah? You can almost hear him talking about seeing things we wouldn’t believe. 

I really don’t know what to say about The Rite, other than it’s like a horror movie for people who don’t like horror. There isn’t a lot of gore, blood, or shocking things (barring a few obscene phrases that really did make the horror grade),and the Exorcist aura is a bit underwhelming, maybe because the acting is a little too good. Honestly, Anthony Hopkins never made a bad movie, because he brings the good to anything he participates in. No matter how bad it started out, it automatically becomes a lot better when Sir Anthony arrives. The man is gold, okay?

But The Rite left me feeling like I hadn’t watched a scary movie at all by today’s standards, and that’s sad, because this thing would have utterly terrified me at 15. It was interesting and entertaining, but not frightening. Not even as scary as The Mothman Prophecies. I blame movies like Saw personally, which seem to exist for no other reason than to rack up numbers of people who absolutely will not watch it (like me). The Rite had a lot going for it in terms of atmosphere, lighting, score, actors, and even the storyline didn’t suck. Despite that, I was a little surprised that it was rated PG-13 rather than R. Yeah, I know: make up your fracking mind, right?

Fine: The Rite was okay if you don’t expect too much. On scale of 1-10 for just getting a story told to you, it rated about a 5. Don’t expect to be terrified, although el mulo was really creepy. Do expect to be creeped out a few times and repulsed by some of the language and themes, and of course there’s Rutger Hauer angsting and Anthony Hopkins doing the best Pazuzu impression since, well, Pazuzu.


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

My lil’ hater is working overtime

Well, I last posted here in August. My Lj is pretty active, along with recent addiction fo Twitter, but whenever I’m less than diligent about posting and more than a week or two passes, my lil hater starts talking to me: “You haven’t posted for 2 weeks. No one wants to see your post about your new virtual office in Second Life. It’s been TWO WEEKS! Now you have to post something INCREDIBLY AWESOME or nothing at all”

And of course, with that kind of internal pressure, sometimes it’s best to let the lil hater have his way. Because totally awesome on a Wednesday? Pish. I don’t think so. We all have that lil’ hater in our heads telling us that what we do just isn’t good enough and no one is listening, no one cares, you totally suck. Sometimes the only way to get past that runty jagoff is to stick your fingers in your ears and go la la la la la while taking a flying leap.

So this is me: leaping.

Whoo hoo.

The King of Forever

Posted in SatWW | 14 Comments

And for Sunday, 3 Favorite Things

I have well and truly gone off the deep end with the word count, as I’m approaching 80k on SatWW 4. That in itself isn’t that big a deal, because most novels are that size, but it’s a big deal when the projected size of the book was around 50k.

This always happens to me. I don’t know the meaning of the word “quickie”. It’s a longie or nothing!

And so, because I really need to sit down tonight and get to the end of this novel while doing some judicious cutting from the beginning, I present you with 3 favorite things.

Favorite Video Game



It’s a series, really, and by series I mean (quite seriously) steampunk legacy. Myst (and the sequels: Riven, Exile, Uru, Revelation, End of Ages ) was a trailblazing game, the precursor and model for much to come. Many other franchises, everything from games (Schizm, Syberia) to social platforms (Second Life) to film (Lost) would succeed in imitating it – in elements, form, artistic style, theme – but nothing ever equalled it. Myst was a labor of love from Robyn and Rand Miller, two brothers who worked together on every single aspect of the first game, creating a fantastic universe where the written word could not only create worlds, but people, animals, and civilizations. But if books could create worlds, then books could also twist them. Contempt of nature resulting in perversion of spirit infuses a great deal of the themes of the Myst games and novels, making it (among other things) a truly Pagan game at heart. As Anna says to Atrus when he’s still a boy: “You must remember what you have learned here, Atrus. I have tried to teach you the mechanics of the earth and stars; the ways of science and the workings of nature. I have tried to teach you what is good and what is to be valued, those truths which cannot be shaken or changed. This knowledge is from the Maker.”

I have all the Myst novels, soundtracks, and games, and the worlds of Myst are some of my most favorite things ever. If you’re curious about the fabled music and graphics of this series, you can check out one of the Myst worlds by playing Myst Online: Uru Live. It’s not a big CPU drag to run on your computer, and the price is pretty good: Free.

Trivia: The main character of Atrus in the video above is played by Rand Miller.

Favorite Comic

Dude, this guy:

I’ve lost count of the series and their order. There was King Conan, Conan the King, The Savage Sword of Conan, and Conan the Cimmerian. I read them all. Or at least, every one I could get my hands on. Robert E. Howard’s Conan is still one of my most beloved fictional characters. He had the sword, the attitude, the destiny, and the muscles to back it up. He’s… just… so…. COOL! Conan will always be cool. If our planet is ever invaded by hostile aliens bent on our destruction, we can just show them Conan, Cimmerian, the unapologetic slayer and lover, born to tread the jeweled kingdoms of the earth beneath his sandaled feet. Then they will go: “Gnak froo mabalaks kliklkilk!” Which translates: “You know, Conan is just so cool. Maybe these Earthlings are really okay, after all…”

Hey, it could happen.

Favorite Thing of the Week

Okay, that’s cheating a bit. 🙂 But the alternative was choosing my favorite fictional character of all time, and Roy Batty teamed up with Maximus and immediately tried to flush Conan out the airlock, which didn’t work, Conan having countered with a roundhouse camel-punch to the jaw until they were both shut down by Boromir and Cap’n Tightpants. With a wrench. In the landing bay.

And that was just off the top of my head. Don’t even ask about Picard.

Anyway… favorite thing. Pastel Portal. Just go. Check it all out. There’s some awesome stuff there, brought to you by author and artist Mateusz Skutnik.

Posted in Stuff Wot I Like | 4 Comments