Category Archives: Blogs

Spam Comments III: What Happens on a Boat in Jersey

It’s time for another episode of Spam Comments, also known as the day I put aside to muck out the stalls of my comments section.  It’s here that we dive deep into the nonsensical mutterings of Asian click farms, and say hello to the Russian hackers.  Also, in all likelihood, the NSA.

Let’s start things off with this mushroom-enhanced poster:

imitation bvlgari jewelry necklaces
vanbul.com
jqztskdj@gmail.com
113.66.40.162
i got a sky dragon by breeding tropical and elctric

Approve | Reply | Quick Edit | Edit | Spam | Trash

Ooooooh, Sky Dragon, eh?  I can’t tell if that’s some new, smack-you-in-the-face strain of weed, or some kind of lizard.  What gets me about this comment is the lack of a shady link.  What are they trying to sell?  Sky lizards?  Mushrooms?  I love how the contact is “imitation bulgari necklaces.”  I think someone got their A.I. drunk.

Next, we have an amateur poet…

kem upsize nga
lamdep.tridaxen.com/moi-ngay-dung-kem-upsize-se-l…
stephanylysaght@t-online.de
107.183.39.134
What a information of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious familiarity
regarding unpredicted feelings.

Approve | Reply | Quick Edit | Edit | Spam | Trash

I always try to infuse my posts with a certain preserveness of precious familiarity, thanks for finally noticing.  Regarding those unpredicted feelings, though–the best thing to do is follow your heart.  It is the most un-ambiguous part of your being.  You’re welcome.  Go now, brave flower, find a information your heart such desires.

This next one is not for those with delicate sensibilities…

cathykq60
wifes.galleries.erolove.in
earlinenq3@courtney.maggie.istanbul-imap.top
51.15.40.233
Daily porn blog updates
http://hotpic.erolove.in/?post-yuliana
jerssey boys boat trip hamster sex videos hot oral sex site de sex maroc free school web proxy

Approve | Reply | Quick Edit | Edit | Spam | Trash

Those Jersey boys, and their crazy hamster sex boat trips.  There must be a reason those keywords found themselves together.  Maybe it’s something that happens; maybe I’m the one out of the loop, here.  Maybe there’s a whole black market for people who want their sex with hamsters on a boat in Jersey.  I just wonder, when the program that put this comment together was going out and grabbing random keywords, how it collected jersey boys, boat trip, and hamster sex.  Maybe it was just hamster and sex video.  It could have been hamster sex videos–the internet is a dark place.

Anyways, I hope everyone in the path of all those hurricanes is alright.  All for now, more to come.

Actually one more thing–I’ll be running a sale pretty soon for Child of the Flames, so if your friends have yet to take a chance on it, a good opportunity is coming.  Work continues on The City Under the Mountain, so keep your eyes open for more sales as October draws closer.

Much love, and JOIN THE CONCLAVE for some free stuff, like the new Ballad of the Outrider: Season One that I just released.  Just scroll to the bottom of the page and enter your email to get the serial directly in your inbox for FREE.

Come and get some.

Let’s Bitch About HBO’s Game of Thrones

Or, Where Did All the Fantasy Writers on the Staff Go?

The first time I picked up George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones was in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom II, sometime around 2004.  I had a sergeant who knew I was a big reader, and he’d heard that the MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) tent in camp was being cleaned out, the donated books kept within being shipped off to other bases.  He got me on the detail to help with the effort so I could go through what they had and take my pick before the books took their next journey.

I read the first one, and ordered the rest of the books available at the time.  I had to wait a long time for them to get there.  I was so invested in that story that I carried it home with me, in all its vast paperback weight–which matters on a deployment, believe me.  It has influenced my writing a good bit.  Before I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire, my own work was much more jaunty and heroic.

(More?!–I can almost hear you saying it.)

Say what you will about Martin’s release frequency, his writing is subtle, interesting, and makes sense.  The man knows his history–after all, he’s a historian–and he has created a deep and interesting world.  For those of you who may have read some of his Thousand Worlds stories, you know there’s even more to the world of Ice and Fire than others might realize.  Martin is infamous amongst his readers for killing your darlings.  Just when you’re invested, just when you think you know what’s going to happen, how the good guys are finally going to win through, Martin stabs a big old ice spear through your heart.  I remember laughing with glee when my mother called me after the Red Wedding aired on the show, and telling her this:

“That’s Game of Thrones, mom–it breaks your fucking heart.”

What I should have said was: It breaks your fucking heart in the most beautiful way.  There’s another reason I love Martin’s stories more than other hard-hitters in the Fantasy genre–his writing holds a greater suspension of disbelief for me.  His world feels real because anyone who has read any history knows that the ancient world was a brutal place.  Hell, the modern world is a brutal place.  A lot of Fantasy stories take place in settings where the heroes always win, noble knights marry chaste ladies, and the good-hearted stableboy is always a secret prince.  That stuff is fine, too.  I love the Belgariads and Harry Potters for what they are.  In Martin’s world, though, heroic behavior is often rewarded with a brutal end, and things don’t just magically happen because everyone has been hoping for it since the first Christmas.

Television shows are rife with plot contrivances.  It’s almost an understandable thing, given the visual nature of television.  People have scenes they want to see, and any serialized story is in danger of falling victim to pandering.  Can we not just have Dany and Jon Snow sexing it up because everybody has been hoping for that for, like, oh my god, like totally YEARS???  Television has to react to the audience by the season; it’s almost forced to alter itself and evolve in order to stay relevant.

This is a tendency to which HBO’s Game of Thrones has been slowly surrendering.  Since the show has outgrown the source material, it’s been deteriorating.  The show is beautiful, and I’ve been fine with it through season five, and most of season six.  This past one, however, has really disappointed me.  The sad thing is that I don’t see how such a story can be completed in another season, much less a six episode season.

Let’s just list out what has gotten under my skin.  I’m including a map to help make my points.

First of all, where the hell do the Ironborn get enough wood to build Euron Greyjoy another thousand ships, and how the hell did they do it so fast?  Even in the 1700’s it took at least a year to build a ship close to the type we see in Game of Thrones.  Somehow Euron finds three forests of wood in good enough shape to build one thousand fuck-you ships, and enough men to crew them, all on these tiny fucking islands that don’t seem to have enough room to build a castle that won’t fall into the sea sometime soon.  Right.  And they do it all quickly enough to attack Yara’s (Asha’s) fleet.  If you’re going to counter me with something like “time passes differently in Westeros”–well, obviously, but ask yourself the following question:  Why do the Ironborn subsist on raiding in the first place?

Tyrion’s plan of attack makes no sense.  So Dany lands on Dragonstone with a huge force of Dothraki cavalry, and thousands of Unsullied.  She’s got three full-grown dragons.  She has allies in the Reach, and in Dorne.  Dany owns the southern third of Westeros, and has a distinct advantage in food, given that the Reach is the breadbasket of Westeros.  She’s also got the strongest castle of all three monarchs.  She’s got a dream team of advisors.

Yet, Tyrion decides to ruin it all somehow by giving the worst military advice ever given in the history of bad military advice.  He says, basically, “let’s split our forces for no goddamn reason and send the Unsullied all the way across the continent to take a castle that hasn’t been relevant since the gold mines ran dry.”  Why?  Um…to win hearts and minds?  Shouldn’t someone have pointed out that the Tyrells own all that land next to the Lannister holdings, and wouldn’t it be a better idea to use the fucking armies they already have on scene?  I guess not.  You’re going to tell me that Olenna Tyrell, who had time to plot war with the Sand Snakes and Varys, forgot to prepare for the coming war with Cersei?

You never split your forces if you don’t have to, and Dany sure as hell didn’t have to.  Why take Casterly Rock?  Even if you wanted to attack it, a siege and blockade would suffice to nullify whatever made-up advantage they wanted to contrive in order to justify even putting it in the storyline.  And sure, they’re rewarded with failure, but you’re going to tell me that Tyrion, who has supposedly read all these great books on military tactics–as in the Battle of Blackwater Bay–suddenly becomes stupid?

Also, Euron’s magical fuck-you ships seem to be able to traverse the whole of the continent in no time at all, and be in two places at once.  Dany had a pretty strong fleet, remember.  You might say, “Yeah, but he could have split his fleet, too.”  Sure, but how did he know where to send his detachment in advance?  Can ravens find ships on the sea?

There are a million ideas that would have worked better.  March to King’s Landing, put the city under siege.  You’ve got the only aerial scouts south of Winterfell, and the biggest guns on the battlefield.  Cersei has one zombie and a few ballistae.  The Lannister armies are pretty much worthless in the face of all that, and dragons will probably scare enough lesser lords into swearing fealty, which would make Cersei’s reign as impotent as Dany’s infantry.

What happened at the battle between Jaime and Dany?

That spear line is way too thin.  A single horse could break through that spear line, and why aren’t the people in the second rank wearing any helmets?  Formations were strong because they were closely packed.  That’s the only way to stand down a cavalry charge–in a strong block of men with a hedgerow of long spears.  Why doesn’t a Westerosi army–a land famous for mounted knights–have any sort of heavy cavalry to counter the Dothraki?  For such well-trained and well-funded soldiers, the Lannister boys are really eating boogers on this one.  Guess they don’t have enough of that freedom and love that Tyrion was going on about in the last episode.

And–what were Jaime’s forces doing there?  They said the gold’s already through the gates of King’s Landing, so what are they doing?  Chilling out?  Carting in the rest of the food?  Which Dany decides to burn because, hey, burning wagons full of possibly useful things your armies might need is good fun.

Also, you will never be able to convince me that a horse, even a trained warhorse, could be goaded into charging a fucking huge dragon.  Nope.  Also, somehow Bronn drags Jaime a long damn way under water, while Jaime is apparently just flopping around with his golden hand in full plate armor.  Right.  He also doesn’t clean himself up before stomping into Cersei’s private office.  What a dick.  Honestly, though, Cersei deserves it.

Hey, let’s go north and grab a single wight, because that’s a good fucking idea.  It would be quicker to stomp Cersei’s neck, grab up all the forces in the south, and then march north.  But no, we’re not going to learn the lessons of the past…well, always…and we’re going to trust in the general goodwill and steadfast logic of Cersei fucking Lannister.  Good plan.  It’s not like everything north of the wall has been dead and animated for the past two years, or anything.  We probably won’t get swarmed by murderous zombies.  Can somebody give Jon a few lines that don’t involve “I’ve seen the Night King, I’ve looked into his eyes, I’m the only one that’s fought them,” and on and on and on.  I don’t remember book Jon being so damned insufferable.

So they decide to send the most unlikely group of characters ever into the north on a heroic mission to capture a single zombie.  Like there are just going to be stragglers hanging out, playing cards, or something.  Maybe they meant to catch one pooping, I don’t know.  Of course, useless Gendry (who just happens to have the dumbest looking warhammer ever made because nostalgia) comes along.  Since he’s apparently the most useless, he’s also the one they decide to send running back the way they came, all the way to the wall, in an unfamiliar land, in a climate he’s not used to, because…reasons.

And, of course, Jon has another great idea–the only one that can save them after running onto this totally convenient rock in the middle of a frozen lake is Dany.  Who is on Dragonstone.  What was it that Jon said to Sansa earlier in the season?  There’s a thousand miles between here and King’s Landing?  Something like that?  But she’s the one that they need to call.  Why?  Because the Night King needs a dragon, of course.  Nobody saw that coming for the past twenty years.

Also, Dany flies north of the wall wearing nothing but a beautiful piece by the most famous designer in Westeros.  Ser Gucci, Lord of Fabricton, apparently forgot to give her any warm clothes for the high altitudes.  And why doesn’t she have some kind of saddle?  She just holds on while that huge dragon flies really fast through the air?  Right.

Jon is immune to hypothermia as well as sound planning.

Rhaegar and Lyanna’s secret marriage means nothing.  I could understand Rhaegar and Lyanna being in love and having a child together–that part is believable for me.  It’s even a good story.  Jon being the son of Lyanna and Rhaegar has long been a fan theory.  But you’re going to tell me that some random High Septon annulled the marriage between Rhaegar and Elia Martel–a political marriage that bore legitimate children–and just never told anyone?  That information never came out during the course of Robert’s rebellion?

Sure, if he had gotten a bastard on her out of love (in the books his reasoning is a bit different, his character a bit more mysterious) I could see that.  But now you’re adding the High Septon to the conspiracy, and the information was only written in some random diary?  Also, Rhaegar’s children by Elia Martel were named Rhaenys and fucking Aegon.  “Hi, I’m Rhaenys, this is my brother Aegon and this is my other brother Aegon.”  Give me a break.

Also, how the hell do the Unsullied march all the way across the continent through enemy territory with no food to show up at King’s Landing?  I guess we’re going to set up this plot line, then just pretend like it never happened.  It must be all that love and freedom the Unsullied have that gives them their superpowers.  Maybe they’re more aerodynamic without penises.  We will never truly know.

Also, these guys are supposed to be the most badass fighting force in all of the world, but they’re dressed in useless half-leather (or whatever that is) armor, and all of them have tiny round shields instead of something that would make their phalanx worth a shit.  We see the Unsullied stand in formation, kill some people individually, but it looks to me like their weapons and armor are quite inferior to those of Westerosi soldiers.  Also, how come Varys gets all effeminate and fat when he gets his jewels cut off–which is sort of accurate–but the Unsullied are all prime slices of man-meat?  Slices…hehe.

Grey Worm and Missandei have nub-to-clit sex, I guess.  The most uninteresting romance in the history of television, ladies and gentlemen.  Good thing we get that story line where Grey Worm is trapped in enemy territory with no food and has to march across…wait.  Shit.

Littlefinger’s death was really anti-climactic.  First of all, Sansa reveals some things that she had previously lied about in front of Lord Royce, who was supposed to be a staunchly honorable man.  Yet, he’s quiet throughout this entire exchange.  She seems very concerned with retaining his loyalty when she’s arguing with her sister, yet she forgets all this during the big trial.  I know Royce has a problem with Littlefinger and probably wants him dead, but does it really make sense for such a man to compromise his personal sense of justice?  Does he not have a duty as a Lord of Westeros to see justice is done?

Also, Littlefinger doesn’t have a right to a trial by combat?  Suddenly in the north, we’re passing sentences and not swinging swords?  They’re just going to cut his throat and let him bleed out on the floor?  Really honoring the memory of their father, whom Arya and Sansa so lovingly cite in the last scene they have together.  The guy who supposedly started this whole thing (even though there were some holes in the way they presented it) just dies, sobbing on the floor?  He didn’t have a way out planned?  He’s just hanging around Winterfell, waiting to be killed.  Seeing the looks that Arya gives him, the weird shit Bran says to him, and the open threats from Jon.  Yeah, seems like a good idea for someone who has been cunning enough to maneuver his way to such great power.

So if regular weapons don’t kill wights, then how was the dream team chopping them to pieces north of the Wall?  In the books Martin is more consistent on this–fire for wights, obsidian for Walkers.  In the show?  Fire, dragonglass, sometimes a burning sword like Berric wields, sometimes Valyrian steel, sometimes regular old swords.  Consistency, yay!

The writers needed things to happen, and it’s clear.  They wanted on-screen reunions that served no real purpose other than to stroke the wishes of people in the audience.  The plot lines weren’t well thought out, and as a result, this season kind of sucked for me.  I love Game of Thrones, but since they’ve departed from the source material, their weaknesses have been slowly revealing themselves.  There are only six episodes left, and I have no idea how they’re going to finish this up without it becoming a total shit show.

There were some good things.  Lena Headey was amazing.  I’ve been a big fan of hers for a long time.  Peter Dinklage was awesome, even with the shit writing they gave him.  The dragons looked incredible, but honestly I could have done with less CGI flying lizard, and more thorough writing.  At this point I think I’m rooting for the Night King.  He’s been shambling toward the Wall for seven years, between turning Crastor babies into inbred White Walkers.  He’s been waiting on his 100,000 buddies to pick up the pace since season two.  And he’s the only one who has yet to do something monumentally, story-ruining, fuck-you stupid.

The Night King for the Iron Throne!

An Open Letter to #Google

I don’t usually like to get political on my blog.  I don’t think that using this platform to spew any sort of ideology is what my readers are searching for, or expecting from me.  However, in this case, I’m too angry and unsettled to ignore what’s happening.  I know I’m probably going to catch some hate for this, but so be it.

I will not apologize.

We’ve all seen the news, I’m sure, and if you haven’t, you should probably start paying attention.  For the past few years, there has been a growing controversy within western culture.  The growing divide between Left and Right in America and abroad has reached a point where the two sides have become increasingly polarized, and ever more insular.  Politics has become intensely personal, and the ramifications are radiating outward through all western societies.

I have been in a unique position to witness some of this controversy playing out first-hand.  At the time of this writing, I am thirty-five years of age, and a United States Army veteran of the so-called “War on Terror.”  I’m also a liberal arts student attending a large school with a vibrant left-leaning culture, though I won’t mention which university.  This is increasingly becoming an odd dichotomy in American society.  When I mentioned that I was a veteran, you probably pictured a mock-up of my personality based on popular stereotypes.  In wild opposition to that, you may have pictured something different when I mentioned that I was a liberal arts college student.

This has allowed me to walk between the two “worlds,” so to speak.  On one hand, I have my personal experiences taken from multiple deployments over nine and a half years of military service to inform my opinions on the war, other cultures, and international politics.  On the other, I have the prevailing cultural zeitgeist influencing–or trying to influence–what I think and feel about the above mentioned subjects, and all other hot topics.  Feminism, Men’s Rights, LGBT rights, Islam, terrorism, Republicans, Democrats, Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, free speech…it could go on and on.  You all know what I’m talking about.

I’ve never been one to complain about having to face adversity–I grew up an atheist in the Bible Belt, so I’ve been arguing with people my entire life.  Growing up, I had a regular troop of other kids in school who made it their personal mission to either convert me, or let me know that I would burn forever in Hell for my blasphemy.  Even my friends would sometimes look at me like I was pitifully misguided, though they would tolerate my vociferous opposition to their positions.  I laughed these things off, because hey–Hell isn’t real to me, so it’s an empty threat.  Being a contrarian is not only a comfortable position for me, but also a preferred one.  I would much rather be a pariah who is strong in his beliefs than a sheep who has no foundation for the same.

Now, in pursuing a liberal arts degree, I have once again found myself in the contrary position.  I will preface the following statements with the “hashtag-not-all” qualifier.  For the most part, everyone I’ve met on campus has been friendly, open, and interested in discussion.  It’s college, after all–that’s kind of the point.  I have also faced a surprising amount of hate.  I have been called a war-monger, a fascist, a straight-up Nazi, a white supremacist, and had the term “right-winger” thrown at me the way a racist might spew epithets at his or her most-hated group of people.  I voted twice for Obama, and in this last election, I was so disgusted by both major candidates that I voted for Gary Johnson (go ahead and accuse me of wasting my vote, I would rather have done that than join either Clinton’s or Trump’s camp).  I have never considered myself right-wing.

However, at school I nearly had an official complaint logged against me under Title IX rules because, during a discussion in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting, I said that the primary motivation for the killings was contained within the Qur’an.  This comment was met with horror by most of the students in the class–all of whom were under twenty-one, and had never traveled outside the sphere of the western world.  The teacher for this class, who was a graduate student in the humanities, called me down for the comment.  To me, this is the most benign and truthful comment one could make in regards to the shooting.  I didn’t say that Muslims are evil, or that Muslims hate gay people, or that Muslims do anything at all.  I said that the Qur’an clearly sanctions this kind of violence in the same way the Bible sanctions slavery, and all kinds of other horrible stuff.  The comment was devoid of any condemnation for any person, or group of people–it was a comment on the holy book itself.

I was also the only one in the class who had read the Qur’an.  I’ve also read a sizable amount of the Sunni hadith, three versions of the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Book of Mormon, and studied Shintoism, Confucianism, Ancient Greek and Roman religion, and lots about the three schools of Buddhism–Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana.  As an atheist, I find that I’m quite interested in and mesmerized by religion, religious history, and religious thought.  Only three other students in my class were even familiar with the Bible, and only one had actually tried to read it.  Only those three knew what the term “Abrahamic” meant in regards to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Yet, the entire class spoke to me with “authority,” assuring me that the Qur’an most certainly does not advocate violence–these white teenagers whose only exposure to Islamic cultures has been filtered through social media.  I’d say the news, but who are we kidding?  These days, people get their news fed to them by whatever social media outlet into which they are currently hooked.  The information they’re used to getting has been curated, and corrupted–and it was probably biased to begin with, as well.

I remember when Christians were bombing abortion clinics in the United States, and crowding the entrances to these places in order to shame and attack the women who needed care.  I was a child for most of that, but I remember the culture surrounding these attacks and how society confronted them.  No one would deny the fact that the justification for these attacks–or at least, the basis for the outrage over abortion–was found within the popular Christian belief that life begins at conception.  I don’t remember a vast army of apologists for the violence, or any pundits on television saying “well, we just have to understand that Christians are mad about this sort of thing, and the real problem we need to worry about is backlash against the Christian community.”  Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of hate out there for Christians, but as a society, we did not shrink from confronting the root of the problem.

Today, there is most definitely a culture of silence surrounding the problems facing our society.  It thrives in our universities, it has seeded itself in our media, and spread from preschools to the top of the most powerful entities in western society, including our governments, and our most powerful corporations.  It is not a centralized conspiracy, but rather a prevailing zeitgeist that resembles, for lack of a better word, a pervasive orthodoxy.

I, like all of you, read the news about the Google engineer who wrote an “anti-diversity” memo, and was subsequently fired.  To me, this was the culmination of something that has been bubbling beneath the surface for years.  The man was blasted in the media as being everything from a woman-hating misogynist to an alt-right racist–none of which, of course, was true.  Read the memo for yourself.  The man takes pains to point out that his arguments are NOT coming from a racist or sexist place, and in fact, he suggests ways to improve the hiring practices in order to make working at Google more attractive for women.  In an interview after the fact, he even stated explicitly that he wants more women in tech, if for the simple reason that he likes working with women.

Of course he does.  He’s a nerdy guy.  He probably jumps for joy when a woman looks in his direction.

Not long after this, it came out that Google has been burying search results, or redirecting searches to results that seem more in line with Google’s values–such as redirecting ISIS searches to anti-ISIS videos, etc.  On one hand, this sounds like a good thing.  After all, we don’t want people being able to search up ISIS videos and become radicalized, right?  Surely not.  Being the contrarian that I am, though, I must raise a point–why in all the hells do we trust Google to tell us what’s acceptable to think?  Since when do we care what Google’s values are?  Why do we, as a society and as consumers, tolerate ANY thumbs on the proverbial internet scale?  Why would we cheer for a company who tells us to our faces that they wish to control what we watch, read, and can find on the internet?  Since when do people beg the Ministry of Truth to intervene in their lives, and curate what they are allowed to know?

After all, controversial and objectionable are subjective, relative terms.  Don’t believe me?  Read more history.

Nothing, to me, sounds more un-American, more antithetical to the enlightenment values that all westerners–not just Americans–hold dear, than this cowardly, secret censorship.  Our society has blossomed from the courage to confront, to question, and to risk trying new things.  It took hundreds of years for western societies to shrug away the mantle of religious orthodoxy and reach new heights, to find a synergy between rational inquiry and religious morality.  Now, a new kind of orthodoxy has sprung up in our midst.  One that has all the mechanical elements of a religious philosophy–rigid dogma, resistance to contrary evidence, desire for social control, hatred of outsiders, and active punishment of dissent, to name a few.  I know there are probably more elements I’m missing.  This orthodoxy has none of the mythology, but all the mechanical trappings of a cult.  It must be confronted, and it must be defeated.

Google’s dickery is most obvious to users of YouTube.  I’m a cord-cutter, meaning that I don’t subscribe to any cable television services.  I get all my media online, and have been doing so for the past few years.  This was originally an awesome thing.  On YouTube, it was quite easy to find shows that discussed politics in long format, with interesting people who couldn’t be more different than the paid pundits one would find on ABC or CNN or Fox.  On YouTube, one could find new perspectives, both interesting and repulsive.  One could also find independent journalists, who were supported directly by their patrons on Patreon and by ad revenue on YouTube, who would report honestly–and without filters–on whatever subject they were currently pursuing.  YouTube had the potential to be a free market of ideas, a bubbling cultural cauldron where even the most radical suggestions could be confronted, argued, and tested–at least, in the rhetorical sense.  YouTube has made some of the biggest stars in our society at the moment, and has become in itself a cultural phenomenon.  YouTube was so awesome because it pushed aside the traditional media gatekeepers, and instead took its ideas and content directly to users, who voted on whether or not they wanted said content.  With YouTube, you knew the biases in what you were watching were clear, if there were any, and that what you were seeing was, at least in some sense, raw.

Also, I hear it’s a good place for cat videos and Worldstar compilations.

YouTube, however, has recently been blasted for blocking videos they deem “controversial.”  They’ve demonetized videos en masse, and have empowered “trusted users” to go on flagging campaigns against content they find objectionable, effectively creating a sort of digital Truth Brigade.  While demonetizing an ISIS propoganda video is one thing, what about the temporary removal of Dr. Jordan Petersen’s account?  A move which was obviously motivated by his outspoken resistance to hard-left ideology encroaching upon western society.  Agree with him or disagree with him, his videos simply cannot be compared to, or lumped in with, ISIS propaganda and pornography.  YouTube, however, did exactly that.  They’ve hid video notifications of channels from the very subscribers of said channels, effectively telling you, the end user, that the content to which you subscribed is something you shouldn’t be seeing.

You might say that Google is a private company, and they can censor whatever they want on their own platform.  There is some merit to that argument, but I do have a dog in this fight–I subscribe to HBO, Google Music, and YouTube Red through Google Play.  I have been a Google customer for years–a paying customer.  Also, Google has arguably reached such a level of influence in our society that they have a responsibility to uphold things like free speech.  Google has created entire economies, including the one on YouTube.  It’s just not right for Google to create this economy, invest in it, encourage it, then start picking winners and losers based on the political beliefs of their creators.  What it is effectively doing is discriminating against the end users who hold those political beliefs, or just wish to hear those beliefs.  Forget, for a moment, the wrong being done to those creators who, without warning, saw much of their income vanish overnight.  What about the users, who have become consumers of “controversial” content?  It is clear that YouTube and Google are attempting to shut these channels down by demonetizing them, and if this trend continues, they will succeed.  The disappearance of this content hurts not just the creators, but the users who have become fans of these creators.

My message to Google is thus:  Stop placing yourself between your customers and their preferred creators.  Stop with the political discrimination within your own company, and stop with the ham-fisted attempts to water down the information that reaches your end users.  It is not your job to be the Ministry of Truth.  It is your job to find what the fuck I’m searching for, not to decide what it is I really want to see, or should be seeing.  Also, fuck you for trying–that’s some truly evil shit.  If this doesn’t change, I will be voting with my dollar, and encouraging everyone else to do so as well.

And YouTube–you had something great going before you decided to play schoolmarm for your entire audience.  You pushed aside the gatekeepers, and allowed creators to bring their content directly to the users.  You then made a system which saw the most popular creators rise to the top, but also allowed those with smaller audiences to find their niches and make an income doing what they love.  This was good not only for them, but for your audience.  It is exactly what YouTube users wanted, and why they love it.  It is the thing that made YouTube what it is, you fucking idiots.  Now, instead of disdaining the gatekeepers, you have decided to become the gatekeeper.  You have taken the very thing that made your product awesome, and turned it around ninety degrees.

Google, it is not your place to take a political stance.  I wish everyone would stop doing it, as if I care what Johnson & Johnson thinks about gay rights, or whether or not Aflac insurance is #woke.  You can’t even watch ESPN these days without having twelve idiots talking about whether or not Colin Kaepernick’s inability to get hired is racist.  For fuck’s sake, he’s not even a good quarterback!  Can I just get the game highlights without the political commentary, please?  This constant grandstanding, this high-handed moralizing, is beginning to really make me sick.

Companies need to stay in their lanes.  If you want to support a political cause, then give money to those causes.  Do not use your platform to discriminate against those with whom you do not agree.  That’s not only underhanded, it’s cowardly, and frighteningly authoritarian.  The fact that anyone agrees with it is staggering to me.

Authoritarianism is my greatest fear.  It is the thing that pushed me away from religion, and the thing against which I have spoken my entire adult life.  It doesn’t matter if any given authoritarian is wearing a brown shirt, an SS belt buckle, a hammer-and-sickle pin, a priest’s robes, or a CEO’s tailored suit.  In practice, they are all the same–cowards who want nothing more than to stifle individuality, and whitewash society in their own preferred image.  They are evil, no matter the clothing in which they appear.

So, Google–stop being evil bastards.  We can all see what you’re doing.

Ask Me Anything Tomorrow!

Hey all.  Just a quick note to let you all know–as I probably mentioned before–that I’ll be r/Fantasy’s Writer of the Day tomorrow over at Reddit.  You can come to the website, and submit a question to me about absolutely anything.  The books, the characters, the setting, the nature of the quantum vacuum…whatever you want.

If you don’t have a Reddit account, it’s easy.  No uploading pictures, no selecting preferences, just enter your email and you’re ready to post.  You’ll need an account to ask me a question, but Reddit is a pretty interesting place even without me, so you can thank me later.

Go HERE to register a Reddit account, if you don’t have one.

HERE is the site where I’ll be answering questions.  I’ll be sending out a link directly to the Q&A to all my social media, so just keep your eyes open for it.

I’ve carved out the day from 0800-1700 to talk with you guys, answer any questions, or just BS with one another.

So come down tomorrow and talk to me.

Spam Comments, Episode II: Revenge of the Cialis Superworms

Today I’ve got a pair of little gems at which you can all snicker.  Without too much introduction, let’s get right into it.  First up is a confused spammer who can’t decide whether he’s looking to buy some boner pills, or sell some boner pills.  Also, he seems confused on the appropriate place for this activity.

“cialis 20 mg can i buy tadalafil can i buy tadalafil

tadalafil over the counter

cialis online where to buy cialis cialis no prescription”

*edited to remove hyperlinks

I think what our friends needs is a little advertising consultation.  Let’s rewrite his ad and help him out.

“Tired of your member flopping around like a bag of water in a sock?

Never fear!  You can buy Cialis right here from shady overseas suppliers!  Is it really Cialis?  Is it powdered mouse bones in BPA capsules?  Who knows?!  Who cares?!  What you need right now is an erection so strong that it will make you pass out whenever you watch yoga videos on YouTube!

When the Romans sacked enemy cities, they didn’t bring a flaccid hose to bust down the gates.

NO!  THEY BROUGHT A BATTERING RAM!

And now you can, too.

So get your Cialis overseas today, because fuck you.

#YOLO”

I think that works a bit better.  Next, we’ve got something kind of weird.  Has anyone ever heard of “superworms”?  I hadn’t.  Apparently they’re the larval stage of some sort of beetle, and people feed them to their pets.  I got this random comment and was curious enough to watch the video.

“The best is How to Breed Superworms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLNH92q0YWg

The only thing I have to say about this is…how strange.  I was waiting for something wild to pop up, maybe some attack worm bred by the Russians during the cold war to burrow under enemy fortifications and come up from the inside, eating everything in sight and spitting acid vomit over its enemies.  Instead, just some weird dirt-worms people breed to feed to their pets.  It was the most disappointing risky link I’ve ever followed.
My question  is this–why spam this link?  I mean, spam doesn’t just appear from the shadows of the internet the way we all think it does.  People pay shady internet marketers to push their products, so was this from some superworm supplier that’s looking to break into the big-time by advertising on wordpress sites?  Was it superworm lovers who know that the best, and healthiest, option for their pets is a mouthful of crunchy beetle larva?  Maybe they eat the worms themselves.  Maybe it’s some conspiracy by the trans-dimensional Illuminati demons.
Fuckin’ Illuminati.
Time to make some Blue Apron.  Talk at you guys soon.
~D.W.

Proof-Filled Pudding

In the world of indie publishing, there is a metric ton of advice out there for authors on everything from crafting a professional manuscript to “gaming” the algorithms of Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and on into the sunset.  Much of it is good.  That’s the great thing about indie authors–they tend to offer a hand down to those climbing the proverbial ladder once they’ve seen a measure of their own success.  Check out the nonfiction section of Amazon and you’ll probably see a lot of titles about marketing ebooks, or how to leverage this site or that to push your titles to the next level.  It can be very confusing, especially considering that there are lots of people out there who offer the “tried and true system to push YOUR books to the next level!”

I’ve read a lot of it.  But me being me, I’ve never been able to keep a long list of tactical tricks in my brain for marketing purposes.  Keeping up with the changes in Amazon’s business models, or the way that Facebook pushes your author page to people, has never been my strong suit.  I’ve never been a PR wizard, or an SEO specialist.  I’ve never worked at any internet firms or anything like that.  I’ve been a mechanic, a musician, an artist, a soldier, a writer–but never anything PR-related.  I abhor social media on general principle, and don’t spend enough time on any website to get a deep understanding of the way they work.  Maybe I’m kind of a dinosaur.

I can barely manage my website.  Yes, it’s that bad.

When I first published back in 2011, I adopted every trick I could find.  I was new to the scene, and had no idea what I was doing.  I got easily bogged down in minutiae, and taken in by the advice of this writer, or that.  Some good, mostly bad.  My first book (with no comments on the horrible quality) did alright, but fell eventually into the mists of internet obscurity.

When I decided to revamp my writing career, I didn’t count on having any great amount of success.  I decided that instead of listening to the endless parade of advice from authors who were offering it, I would instead adopt a few simple principles, and take a page from the books of some of the great generals in history–Strategy is by far more important than tactics.  A tactic is a short-term thing designed to get you through the moment.  A strategy is a plan of action for the long haul, and I made mine simple.

Concentrate on writing good books, get good-looking covers, and worry about the bullshit later.

I thought about the way that I look for a new book when I want something to read.  I don’t listen to Facebook or Amazon, don’t click on ads, don’t participate in giveaways or contests (though I know some people do).  What I do is probably what most of you do–I ask my friends.  I read descriptions, I read reviews from other readers.  I figured that for my own work, the best thing to do would be to try and write a good book.  If it was good enough, people would want to read it and recommend it.  It’s true that this is a more slow-burn type of strategy than landing an ad somewhere, and it might not net me a million downloads in a few days, but the people who did discover it would probably enjoy it more than if it had been shoved in their face by a pop-up on some random website.

I decided that I didn’t need to be the next George R.R. Martin, I just needed to write something that a few people really enjoyed.  I wanted to be accessible as much as possible, and treat people like people instead of assets to push a product, or ticks on some line graph.  What I wanted was a small group of fans with whom I can talk, joke around, and have a good rapport.  I just don’t have it in me to be anything but generally irreverent, snarky, and completely unprofessional.  I’m just a guy with tattoos.  I could never be some untouchable, suit-draped elitist who looks down on others as a waste of his time.  It’s just not me, and never could be me.  When I think of authors doing book signing events, or live book readings, etc, what I would much rather do is just go out to a pub and have a beer with people.

I never counted on having much exposure, or a legion of fans.  I figured a few people would like what I was doing, but it was probably going to be a niche crowd from the get-go.  Since I changed my business model, so to speak, I’ve not purchased any ads, done any podcasts, promoted posts on Facebook, or joined Twitter hashtags.  The closest thing I’ve done is Fantasy Writer of the Day on Reddit, but that’s totally free on my part, a niche crowd in itself, and it’s an AMA-style interaction between me and subscribers to the subreddit rather than an ad campaign.  Which, by the way, I will be doing again on July 24th.  Look for me there on that day if you want to ask questions, or just hang out and bullshit with me.

Somehow, along the way, the books have picked up some steam on their own.  I say it’s down to you guys–the readers.  You’ve read, recommended, shared, or whatever it is that you’ve done, and slowly but surely something pretty awesome has happened.

When I logged in to check my numbers this morning, I saw this.  I was floored.  There’s a lot of jostling that happens in the Amazon bestseller rankings, and they change from one minute to the next.  One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that all three of my books have slowly clawed their way into the top ten.  For the last six months or so, Child of the Flames and The Knife in the Dark have stuck there consistently, and since The Old Man of the Temple‘s release, it’s been right there beside them, and featured in Amazon’s “Hot New Releases.”

So thanks.  Thanks to all of you who have shared, recommended, talked about them with your friends, or left me reviews.  Thanks to those of you who haven’t, but have purchased and read them all the same.  The past two years I’ve worked hard on them, especially this past year, and it’s wild to see them climbing to where they are now.  I can’t even describe the feeling, and it’s all down to you guys.  I should be studying for my finals next week right now, but I’m cracking a Guinness Nitro for all of you out there who are riding this train with me.  All I did was write them.  You guys did this, and I fucking love you for it.

Much Love and Respect to you all.

~D.W.

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom

I see you guys out there.  You’re all awesome.  My gratitude is yours.

Guess I’d better get cracking on that next book.  Much love and respect to you all.

~D.W.

Spam Comments are Hilarious

So, I get a lot of spam comments on this website.  I mean pages and pages of the things.  I dread logging into my site because I always have to delete 50 or 60 of them.  I thought I’d make it fun and share one with you guys.

“Hurrah, that’s what I was exploring for, what a data!
present here at this website, thanks admin of this website.”

What a data!

Gotta love that.  I think I’ll keep doing this, ‘cuz I find it hilarious for some reason.

Don’t forget to get your copy of The Old Man of the Temple on April 22nd!

Merry Christmas

It was a dark and stormy night–and a damn rare occasion in Arizona, because it was snowing.  Nothing was laying, but it was wet and nasty, and it was coming down hard.  Yours truly was driving through this mess, with a tired four year old and a truck full of presents.

Little did I know that earlier in the day, at some point, someone had backed into my truck and fled the scene like the cowards they are.  Yes, backed into my truck on Christmas Eve and either didn’t notice it themselves–which is possible, admittedly–or scurried away, not wishing to deal with the insurance people.

So there I am, at around 10pm, snow coming down hard, having a lot of odd problems with my truck.  First, the speedometer maxed out.  This wasn’t the end of the world, you understand, but highly irritating.  I pulled over at a truck stop, kid and presents and all, and yanked the instrument cluster fuse, reset the computer, and bam–speedometer fixed.  Problem solved, another victory.

Or so I thought.

See–while I was messing around in my fusebox, I noticed something odd about my truck.  It had a dent in the hood where there had been no dent before.  I’m not one of those types that worries about every little scratch in my vehicle, so I was a little irritated, but it wasn’t the end of the world.  I drive a long-bed 4×4 after all, and that’s not a truck that’s made to be pretty.  What I should have done is investigate this further, but it was snowing, it was late, and I might have mentioned the four year old who was just as ready as I was to get home for the evening.  I slammed the hood down, saw the speedometer working correctly again, and so I set off for home–an hour and a half drive back to Tucson.

What happened, you ask?  Well, it turns out that my truck wouldn’t shift out of 3rd.  This gets me kind of angry.  I’m thinking “it’s got to be something electrical, the instrument cluster is messing up plus the tranny won’t shift out of third; maybe it’s the vehicle speed sensor” and damn near pulling my hair out at this point.  I call my brother, who comes to pick me up, and start mucking around with my truck again in the shitty weather.

As it turns out, the front grill was just sitting in place.  You could take the running lights and just push them right off of the front end to hang by the wires that hold them, and the grill itself was cracked all the way around.  That hood dent took on a new meaning for me.  So did the mechanical problems.

Son of a bitch.

At least at this point I knew what I had to do–claim it on my insurance.  Someone at some point in the day had probably backed into me, and drove away.  That’s how I spent my Christmas Eve to Christmas morning, and tomorrow will be a rental car and tow truck adventure, since the old trusty 4×4 is just sitting on the side of the highway right now.  It really sucks.  I hope they can fix my truck.  I really like that truck.  It’s simple, it’s dependable, and it’s got a nice stereo.  Ah, well.  Life goes on.

So that’s how I spent my Christmas Eve.  I hope all of you had a better holiday than me.  On the bright side, things could have been much worse.  Still–when things go wrong for me, they pick the weirdest times to do so.  Snowing in Arizona, Christmas Eve night, loaded with presents and a tuckered out four year old.  What craziness lol.

Merry Christmas people.  Merry effin’ Christmas.