Cheeseburger Gothic

Bookfunnel: for an author stiffy you could crack fleas on

Posted January 8, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

Orin often tells me there’s more money to be made selling services and products to writers than there is in writing. Probably true; most of the fortunes on the goldfield aren’t made in the mud. They’re trousered by Al Swearingen at the saloon and whorehouse.

Still, a really nice saloon can be a thing of beauty.

Hence I’m giddily excited by the launch of Bookfunnel.com. I’ve been waiting on these guys for months and confess to some nervousness that they wouldn’t get their shit together before I did. What are they? A delivery service for writers. If you have a free book, a time-traveling zombie stomping alternate history lets say, and you want to offer it to yo’ peeps in return for their subscription to an email list, Bookfunnel simplifies the whole process. Massively.

Before today, when it came time to give away Here Be Monsters, I was looking at having to host multiple copies of the file in multiple formats somewhere online. I’d send subscribers a link for their freebie. They’d download it and then side load it to whatever device they preferred for their electronical reading. Inevitably, invariably, with enough people downloading it, dozens, maybe hundreds would have issues with the file transfer. And they’d be emailing me about it.

Not anymore.

I’ve road tested Bookfunnel. It seems to work exactly as advertised. I give you the link, you hit it up, you get the book in the right format on your device or desktop.

It won’t excite you, but I have an author stiffy you could crack fleas on.

12 Responses to ‘Bookfunnel: for an author stiffy you could crack fleas on’

WarDog puts forth...

Posted January 8, 2016

Got to admit to a man crush on Al.

Sharp and eloquent, yet hard as nails, tough as ye old boot leather and with rat cunning leaking out of every orifice.

Barnesm mumbles...

Posted January 8, 2016
As do we all Wardog. Whenever me or mine feel hard done by the indifferent world I imagine Al looking down and uttering these sympathetic words. "Pain or damage don't end the world, or despair or fucking beatings. The world ends when you're dead. Until then you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man and give some back".

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Rhino mumbles...

Posted January 9, 2016
Read today that there is going to be a Deadwood movie.

Abe Frellman ducks in to say...

Posted January 9, 2016
Please let it be true.

GhostSwirv is gonna tell you...

Posted January 9, 2016
Have just recently awoken from an all-night Justified binge, drawing to the end of Raylan and Boyd's tortured tango and am now ready to dip my toes into a Deadwood miasma.

I have always been a fan of the McShane school of acting menace and am looking forward to many latenight trysts with his stache.

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted January 9, 2016
"Open the fucking peaches!"

GhostSwirv puts forth...

Posted January 10, 2016

I love peaches ... I'm so looking forward to finding out what Barnesm is swirling about.

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Abe Frellman ducks in to say...

Posted January 9, 2016
"And they'd be emailing me about it." It could be worse - they could turn up on your doorstep and expect to be watered, fed and f&cked for a few dollars.
I lived for a while in Australia's version of Deadwood, albeit a long time after the gold had 'pinched out'. The attitude of some of the publicans was similar to old Al's though - 'How do I part the punters from their cash quickly and with the minimum of personal interaction on my part?'
Such is the drawback of the high volume, low value (per transaction) business model. And the opportunity for something like Bookfunnel.
Would publishers see Bookfunnel as a disruptor cutting their lunch by facilitating the new, 'disinter-mediated' publishing model, or a provider of technology they can themselves harness to drive efficiency gains?


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Frivolous mumbles...

Posted January 9, 2016
Author stiffies can be very attractive.

GhostSwirv would have you know...

Posted January 9, 2016

Now I grasp the true reason that JB prefers to 'work' at a standing desk!

Oh and Bookfunnel sounds ace ... looking forward to using its facility.

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jason would have you know...

Posted January 11, 2016
Haven't seen Deadwood (insert abuse here) but I just checked out bookfunnel and it looks awesome.

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted January 28, 2016
With barely 3 clicks I have some sweet sweet Birmo action safely within my fondle slab. Faff free.
Your munificence is without compare.
Now if you'll excuse me I have some period drama / zed to be getting my thinking gear around.
Makes me wonder if perhaps I should have persevered a touch more last time.

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Book schedule update. Fanfic, self published, trade published

Posted January 7, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

Rhino asks in the thread below about the status of our fanfic project. All of the entries have been edited by me, but I want to write an extra 10,000 words of my own, mostly so that people who pick up the book cold aren't left wondering what the hell is going on.

I still don’t have a title for the project. Chronicles of the Monster Wars seems a bit portentous. Any suggestions will be gratefully stolen.

I have a heavy writing and publishing schedule until August. Three Stalin’s Hammer e-books to finish that series and set up a potential long form novel in the Axis of Time story world. Production and artwork for the two Hooper e-books which some of you have read in Beta. A full-length Dave novel, Stronghold, picking up the story after the end of Ascendance, and a new trade published trilogy, a space opera beginning with The Cruel Stars, which I will finish drafting by August, not at all coincidentally when Stronghold comes out.

This means the first opportunity I'll have to work on the fanfic project will be in July. Writing my section won’t take long, but I also want to get all of those other self published books out into the market to see what kind of return, if any, I can get from them. It costs about $1500 to self publish an e-book to industry standard. If I've made a killing on the other books, I’m happy to spend that much on the fanfic too. If not I’ll still bring it out, but I’ll be looking to save costs on the production.

I’m looking forward to all the work I have on this year, both trade and self published. It’s going to be hell busy and as always there are no guarantees I won’t come a cropper. But the fanfic is looking good. There are some great stories in there, good enough for a trade published anthology. It will come out. Probably in September and it will look like the real deal.

55 Responses to ‘Book schedule update. Fanfic, self published, trade published’

Murphy_of_Missouri mutters...

Posted January 7, 2016
Busy times.

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Dave W mumbles...

Posted January 7, 2016
I'd say, let us know if there is anything we can do to help, but... you know... this isn't shifting some bookshelves and a fridge... I doubt you need the assistance of a full time public servant.

insomniac mutters...

Posted January 7, 2016
Perhaps take the hovercraft for a spin, you know, for maintenance purposes only, or keep the bunnies occupied.

Dave W would have you know...

Posted January 7, 2016
Well, yeah, obviously I'm qualified for those kinds of tasks.

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Rob is gonna tell you...

Posted January 7, 2016

'Chronicles of the Monster Wars seems a bit portentous'

is 'Journal of the Whills' taken?

Disaster Tweets from the End of the World.

Attack of the Monster clone wars

Cripes, that's an ugly galah. (Aussie version)

Fight Back. Or how I learned to stop worrying and punch a Monster in the balls.


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Nocturnalist swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 7, 2016

Dave's Mates vs the Monsters.
Old Monster's War.
The Odd Angry Orc.
Light of Other Daves.
The Axe-Maniac Daves Fiasco.
Monsterments Men.

NBlob asserts...

Posted January 7, 2016
+1 The odd angry Orc

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Rhino has opinions thus...

Posted January 7, 2016
This is kind of a long title but what the hell:
The Seppos Did All Right in that Whole Monster Kerfluffle Cause Of that Pesky Second Amendment. Everyone Else, Not So Much. I'd Add Suck It Hippies If You All of You Weren't Already Orc Shit.
Like I said, a little long.

NBlob mutters...

Posted January 7, 2016
Snrrk

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Rhino puts forth...

Posted January 7, 2016
Thanks for the update Birmo.
You know, if you needed an assistant to the First Seppo Assistant to go through all of this stuff, we are cheap to rent.

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DarrenBloomfield would have you know...

Posted January 7, 2016
He Died With a Fangr in His Hand.
More seriously, you could beta the fanfic in the crowdsourced edit like you did with the e books. Or is the editing done, its just your bit and production?

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted January 7, 2016
I will definitely put the fanfic to beta, but not until I've written my bit.

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pitpat puts forth...

Posted January 7, 2016
WTF just came out of my dunny (toilet) - a beginners guide

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KreepyKrawly is gonna tell you...

Posted January 7, 2016

Cheeseburger monsters: Short stories from the non-Daves...


*Runs and hides*

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Therbs puts forth...

Posted January 7, 2016

That's a whole of publishing to be done. Coincidentally Dymocks Booklovers ask for votes of fave books at this time of year. I noticed that Dave didn't feature and Felafel doesn't get a nod either in this year's list. Then I found a section where you can nominate your own. And next year there'll be more to nominate.

Monstoryiosa.

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pi puts forth...

Posted January 7, 2016
The monster war anthology

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted January 7, 2016
I approve

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pi reckons...

Posted January 7, 2016
Volume 1, of course.

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Peter in the bleachers mumbles...

Posted January 7, 2016
A new full length novel in the Axis of Time series, I just let out a small squeak of excitement. Busy times ahead.

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Maddoug has opinions thus...

Posted January 7, 2016
"The Antipodiean Hobbits Fiasco"

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she_jedi puts forth...

Posted January 8, 2016
Despatches from the Monster War?

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon would have you know...

Posted January 8, 2016
What about "Monster Manual"? You might have some copyright issues with the D&D crowd though.

Nocturnalist mutters...

Posted January 8, 2016
I seem to recall you can't actually copyright titles.

insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted January 8, 2016
Yep, although you may wish to look out for a relevant trademark.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted January 8, 2016
It is a little more complicated than that. If something has "secondary meaning" then it is protectable even if it isn't copyrighted and/or trademarked.

For example, Star Wars is a title that isn't subject to copyright. But - at least until recently - when someone says "Star Wars" they think "George Lucas." That is what "secondary meaning" means. The consumer associates a product or image with a particular person or company.

Let's say the image of Mickey Mouse goes into public domain. It is so closely connected to the Disney Corporation in the consumer's mind that, when someone sees it on a t-shirt, the consumer presumes the seller has Disney's permission to use the image. If there is "consumer confusion" over who or what owns something, then the vendor potentially is going to get sued.

For a very long time the Estate of Arthur Conan Doyle completely and ruthlessly controlled the use of Sherlock Holmes because of "secondary meaning" even though Doyle's works went into the public domain long ago. That changed only recently when a federal judge in Illinois ruled Sherlock Holmes is totally in the public domain and anyone can use it without permission from (and without paying) anyone.

My favorite case deals with "reverse confusion" where Goodyear, an international automobile tire company intentionally stole the name "Big Foot" - a tire sold by a teeny, tiny tire tire company called Big-O. Goodyear advertised the Big Foot during the Super Bowl and made it famous. When Big-O sued, Goodyear's attorneys reasoned that, because Big-O was so small and Goodyear so large, consumers would think that Big-O was selling Goodyear tires, and not visa-versa (aka "reverse confusion").

The court didn't buy it, awarded Big-O billions, and Big-O used the award to open up tire stores all over the US.

Great story, eh?

Nocturnalist mutters...

Posted January 8, 2016

That is a good story, Paul, and thanks for the brief on the "secondary meaning" stuff - it does make sense.

I wonder if it will cause any trouble for the folks who started working on a collection of new James Bond stories once the character fell out of copyright in Canada?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted January 8, 2016
Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on their specific facts. First, its Canada (the "secondary meaning" stuff I mentioned is the US federal law take on common law "passing off" (see Rob's comment, above) and it may or may not play in Canada. But The Internet and "fan fic" are altering "fair use" concepts considerably when it comes to character use - even those still in copyright.

DarrenBloomfield mutters...

Posted January 8, 2016
the link above rocks, if only because it contains "contumelious". That word should get used more. The Dave is often contumelious. The prick.

Rob puts forth...

Posted January 8, 2016

its a perfectly cromunlent word

Rhino puts forth...

Posted January 12, 2016
Anyone that read this thread now owes Professor Boylan legal fees. Every time you reply it just adds to his billing for time. Expect invoices.
I did not read it. I scan the Professor's responses and know, from painful financial experience, that if they are longer than a sentence or two (or, gods forbid, a paragraph) it is more than likely legal opinion, and therefore billable to the recipients.

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Peter Bradley has opinions thus...

Posted January 8, 2016
Tales from the Malevolent

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted January 8, 2016
Yeah i thought Monster Manual might be pushing it. Great thread though.
How about "Tales From the UnderRealm" (even though technically some of the stories occur above and it does sound hauntingly familiar to Tales from the Crypt . . . man i can't catch a break. I'll come up with an original idea one day)

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Dylwah would have you know...

Posted January 8, 2016
Fangr(ing) round the Backstreets.
?

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pedrogb is gonna tell you...

Posted January 8, 2016
Glimpses of Hell -A chronicle of the monster warsVisions of Hell - A chronicle of the monster wars

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Barnesm puts forth...

Posted January 8, 2016

Dave vs The Evil Dead

that's just a poor segue to ask has everyone finished watching Season one yet of Ash vs The Evil Dead. Best fun I have had in a while, (not as much fun as reading the Dave series of course).

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted January 8, 2016
Ash vs the Army of Darkness?

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Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted January 8, 2016
I mean DAVE vs the Army of Darkness

Nocturnalist asserts...

Posted January 8, 2016
The Dark vs the Army of Daveness.

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matt puts forth...

Posted January 8, 2016
did you say a space opera trilogy sounds intriguing. i'd love to know more\

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Matt Hamilton reckons...

Posted January 8, 2016
How about "Renditions"?

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w from brisbane has opinions thus...

Posted January 8, 2016
I know one thing about JB's upcoming space opera. 'The Cruel Stars' is a ripper of a title!

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Dirk mumbles...

Posted January 8, 2016
If you need another sounding board for the Axis: I'm in. Just throw a post in here :)

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ShaneAlpha asserts...

Posted January 8, 2016
I've got to go with
COCKPUNCH!
(Where's JB's Nobel you cowering wimps.)

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GhostSwirv mutters...

Posted January 9, 2016

I love 'Chronicles' and 'Despatches' is pretty good too, but how 'bout

World War Zee Dave.

Rise of the UnderRealm ... A History of Unrecorded Battles.

Monsters to the left of me Monsters to right, here I am stuck in the middle with TheDave.

The Monster Wars Anthology








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Brother PorkChop ducks in to say...

Posted January 11, 2016
Monsters and Men - A Victims PerspectiveWorld War MA Monsters Guide to Eating Seppos and Not Getting Bunged Up.

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Rhino mutters...

Posted January 12, 2016
To Serve Man

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 12, 2016
The Cattle Chronicles

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Brother PorkChop would have you know...

Posted January 12, 2016
On a side note, any advice for what to do if anything in Lincoln, Nebraska? Aside from road trip to Kansas for BBQ. I look like having 4+ weeks there for work but will need to fill some weekends and it is not somewhere I've visited before. Any advice would be much appreciated!!

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted January 13, 2016
My Grandfather once told me "son, no matter your lot in life, it could only be worse in Lincoln."

Turns out he was wrong. Lincoln is actually a fairly nice place and possibly the most cosmopolitan city in Nebraska. State capitols in the US tend to be that way.

Take a look at:
http://journalstar.com/gallery/features/hip-places-to-eat-and-be-seen-in-lincoln/collection_625a22df-6eb3-5a19-8dd8-ef050de56558.html#0

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted January 13, 2016
Hey, BPC, email me at pnboylan@gmail.com.

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ChrisB mutters...

Posted January 21, 2016
This is totally awesome to here. Good for you JB.

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ChrisB mumbles...

Posted January 21, 2016
good lord....*hear, not here. Too much keyboard time.

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Don Bagert ducks in to say...

Posted February 1, 2016
Glad to hear that you have found the, er, time to get back to the Axis of Time universe!

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George R.R. Martin has writers block and it's your fault. No kidding. It is

Posted January 3, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

Oh man, I feel for George R.R. Martin. He’s just fessed up that he can’t finish The Winds of Winter before the next Game of Thrones season airs on TV. It won’t affect HBO much, if at all. The producers have been working closely with Martin and should have no real problems pushing on with the narrative. It’s a helluva thing for the author to deal with though, watching somebody else tell his story before he’s even finished it.

DId he kill Jon Snow in A Dance With Dragons? Maybe, maybe not. But if Snow comes back, it'll be the show runners Benioff and Wiess who perform the miracle. That's gotta burn.

All of the books in the series are huge and complex and take years to write and edit under ideal circumstances, but the pressure which has piled on Martin as the TV series exploded in popularity make for circumstances which are a long fucking way from ideal. His statement is heavy with the shame which will be familiar to all writers who must live their profession in public; the shame of not delivering.

“I won’t make excuses,” he writes. “There are no excuses. No one else is to blame. Not my editors and publishers, not HBO. It’s on me. I tried, and I am still trying.”

Oh man. I know that feeling. If you write, so do you. It sucks like the cold vacuum of space. Martin blamed the slippage on busy scheduling, distractions, and most tellingly on writer’s block. You never, ever admit to writers block. It’s like confessing to impotence. It's naming the devil. It's perdition and damnation.

Props to him for his honesty and bravery, but it won’t help. Unfortunately he’ll now have write into the teeth of a howling gale of entitlement, selfishness and fan anger. (Fan anger, which is a real thing, is where I got the idea for the fangr in HOOPER, just as an aside. I was pondering the phrase, and it became ‘fanger’ - an occasional term for vampires - and then fangr. The undifferentiated id monsters which are all teeth and terror, barely leashed in by a Hunn dominant are my private joke about the sort of readers who harass authors like Martin because they’re worried he’ll die before finishing ‘their’ book. Not so private any more, I guess.)

GRRM has undoubtedly added to his own woes. We all do. But the main culprit is the weight of our expectation, our fangrrr, which I suspect is crushing the creative life out of him. I also suspect the only way he’s going to get his mojo back is for the whole world to just step back, give him some space and say, “Whenever you’re ready, George. No rush.”

21 Responses to ‘George R.R. Martin has writers block and it's your fault. No kidding. It is’

Steve has opinions thus...

Posted January 3, 2016
The book will be ready when it's ready, and it will still be awesome. And I'll read it.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 3, 2016
Spoken like an author excusing another author. What about us? What about the readers? What about our needs? Don't any of you realize we are like hungry children and you authors are like the parents we look to for sustenance?? Mothers and fathers go out every day and slug it out with the world to bring home the bacon so their kids can eat. They hate their jobs, too, but they get the job done. They don't say "I'm not really feeling up to it today. They go and do it. And Martin should, too.

You know what it is? You want to know what is at fault? It is the American Southwest. It makes you soft. It saps your strength. It makes you want to sit back and relax - even if your kids are starving.

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w from brisbane asserts...

Posted January 3, 2016
The home of fan anger is sports. I remember the story of Mark Viduka when he was playing soccer for Leeds. He was their highest paid player, on about 60,000 pounds a week, and he was a focus of fan anger whenever Leeds were going poorly. Apparently, angry fans were lined up beside the players car park after a loss. As Viduka walked to his car he was loudly harangued. One fan kept yelling, 'I pay your salary Viduka, I pay your salary Viduka'. Viduka's head turned, he then pivoted and purposefully strode to the fan and said, 'Let me shake your hand then because you must be a fucking rich cunt.'

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Blarkon ducks in to say...

Posted January 3, 2016
Lucas. Martin. That curious bloke. Fans hate a George.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted January 5, 2016
I hate the Man in the Yellow Hat more than Curious George, although I hate that monkey, too.

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she_jedi mutters...

Posted January 3, 2016
Neil Gaiman has a wonderful response to the question of reader entitlement, and whether or not George R R Martin owes anything to his readers:
http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html
I'm with Gaiman; I'd rather read a complete book by a contented author, and I'm happy to wait for it to come out when it comes out. Of course JB, this does not give you a leave pass to faff about for 5 years on the next season of Dave. There are limits. Just sayin'.

LeSyp reckons...

Posted January 3, 2016
Best comment. Ever.

KreepyKrawly mumbles...

Posted January 4, 2016
+1 ß-D

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WA n'ker swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 3, 2016
Oh, the Misery of it all!Our Annie will not be amused.

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Murphy_of_Missouri ducks in to say...

Posted January 3, 2016
#FirstWorldProbs
#TheStruggle
#Wahburgerrighthere
#shouldyounotbewriting
#WTF
#OMG
#Getscribblinbitch

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Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted January 3, 2016
On a serious note, maybe if he hadn't spent so much time in junkyards looking for hood ornaments to convert into shoulda Hugo Awards at his last Hugo-Not Hugo Flying Anus Party, maybe he'd have the fucking book done by now.

#NeverWasAGRRMFan

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted January 3, 2016
Hash, dude.

PS - many thanks to the powers that be that you didn't partake of the VA system in Missouri.

Murphy_of_Missouri mutters...

Posted January 4, 2016
Well, the HIV mess was in St. Louis, but that didn't make me feel any better about it. I've heard too many stories and had too many negative experiences at the KC VA medical center over the years.

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Sudragon ducks in to say...

Posted January 3, 2016
Arthur C. Clark wrote 2001 as Kubrick was filming it. Called it 'the most expensive way to write a book he could think of...'

That turned out all right didn't it?

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ChrisB mutters...

Posted January 3, 2016
So, am I missing something with Mr. RR's (and HBO's) stories? Big yawn-fest for me.

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Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted January 3, 2016
Interesting how Kirkman and the Walking Dead deal with the TV series catching up to the comix with regard to narrative, but no comparrison with the shear work of a novel such as GRRM is producing.

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ShaneAlpha is gonna tell you...

Posted January 3, 2016
Can't we lock him into a small room with food given to him through a flap until he finishes?
Goddamn it George, learn to say NO! The time thieves are everywhere, stealing your precious writing time by having you do things that are not writing. (Unless you're Issac of course. That man only missed days when he was quite literally dying.)

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DiddyWrote mumbles...

Posted January 3, 2016
I think Martin prefers to be a free form writer, throwing new characters into the mix and then allowing them and their motivations to move the plot line along, often in wildly different and unexpected ways.
You can see this in the early books as he expands his universe. Characters crash into the narrative. Sometimes they last, sometimes they are quickly dispatched. This gives the books a sense of depth and the enjoyment of the unexpected.
I suspect Martin enjoyed writing like this, as he could strike off in tangents as fancy took him.
The problem is that the success of the books and the expectations for it all to be finished off neatly with a bow is proving insuperable. Martin knows what the end looks like but doesn't know how to get all the characters to the finale and the whole thing has turned into a depressing logistical slog. All in all it's probably killed off all his creative enjoyment in the project.
Somewhat sad I suppose but he has made a lot of money and HBO will efficiently finish the project come what may, although not necessarily as he may have wished.

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Randall Flagg swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 4, 2016
Unfortunately he’ll now have write into the teeth of a howling gale of entitlement, selfishness and fan anger.

It's a lot worse than that.

What he now has to write into is indifference to the books. Look around, the internet is, as of the announcement, chock full of die-hard book fans who were determined to read everything first and who are now saying, "fine, let the show finish it, I don't care anymore." It isn't fully appreciated how fast people's attention will just move on. At the moment it's all ahead of us still, and we think we'll care. But once it's behind us, when the tv show actually reveals the ending to the whole thing, only the hardest of hardcore fans will stick around for the books, years and years and years after the shows have ended. The books were already becoming a slog, but you push through because you want to know how it all turns out.

I've read and enjoyed the Ice and Fire books so far, but once the show has concluded and revealed the ending, that'll do pig. That'll do.

George knows this all to well. That's also why he's so down. He knows he just lost the majority of his audience. Sad for him, but what do you expect. The audience is not your bitch.

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GhostSwirv would have you know...

Posted January 4, 2016
Not much of a Thrones fan messulf - always amused when peeps I know are surprised then annoyed that I don't watch it or read it ... so I won't be losing any zzzzs over who slays whom in GRMMs latest fairie tale or whether or not the Big Guy finishes his own original story.

As far am I'm concerned HBO should hire the services of Damon Lindenof to finish off the series - that should keep everyone happy.

Oh and JB, I love the Fangr reference to your many not-so-adoring fans, clearly not those of Gothic Cheese, else they'd be called Burgrs, but I was taken by your use of GRRM to decribe the Big Thrones Guy ... I thought for a moment it was reference to your GRYMM ... were they inspired by George RR Martin?

I'm just asking for a friend.



John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted January 4, 2016
Alas not. Just a coincidence.

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Two men down

Posted December 18, 2015 into Writing by John Birmingham

Phil Abraham was my editor at Penthouse when I freelanced there in the early 1990s. He was the first editor of a glossy, grown up magazine to commission a story from me, although not the first story I sent him. With Greg Hunter, the features editor at Penthouse, and later the editor at Inside Sport, Phil was largely responsible for turning me into a working magazine writer. I heard today that he has died in a surfing mishap.

Greg proceeded him into the great silence a few years ago. Both gone before their time. The circumstances of Greg Hunter's passing were especially sad, but I don't feel free to discuss them here. They reflect very poorly on certain prominent figures.

From Greg I learned a lot about writing. He was in the habit of handing new freelancers a photocopy of Tom Wolfe’s introductory essay from The New Journalism. All eighty pages of it. “Read this and do it,” he’d say.

From Phil I learned about reporting, about chasing a story and not letting go. I also learned from him that the story you most want to write is the story of which you should be most skeptical. He was a brave and conscientious editor who frequently took risks on young, untried writers. There are a whole stable of us who owe our start in the business to him.

And now he is gone.

I shall pour one out for him tonight. With a chaser for Greg.

13 Responses to ‘Two men down’

w from brisbane ducks in to say...

Posted December 18, 2015
I remember enjoying Phil Abraham's writing when he worked for Tracks surfing magazine in the late seventies.

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Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted December 18, 2015
May they both rest easy now.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted December 18, 2015
The best - perhaps the most - any of us can hope for, truly, is that our mates will lift a glass in our memory and say a kind word or two.

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bodypolitics puts forth...

Posted December 21, 2015
I met Phil in 1971 at the Canberra College of Advanced Education where we were both doing the professional writing course and selling weed. I think we may have even co-edited an edition of the College's paper with Morris Glietzman. Later I wrote political stories for Andy Cowell and Phil at Penthouse before going on to edit Simply Living magazine and Matilda mag.Phil was a very cool dude who was universally liked. He was one of the most understated people in media that I ever knew. The circumstances of his passing, although sketchy, appear heroic and should be published - although no doubt his family should be consulted first. There are lots of people out there who are just finding out about this. There are half a dozen writers and editors who knew Phil well enough to put together a meaningful obit. What about it John? Between yourself, Andy Cowell, Corrine, Verna Simpson and a couple more that I don't know about....we could probably pull together a yarn that Phil would be proud to own.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted December 21, 2015
Happy to add in some deets about my time at Penthouse, mate, but that was a long time ago. He's done a lot since then, especially in the surfing press. I'd say someone who worked with him more recently would be better placed to pull it together. Greg Hunter would have been great but... you know...

bodypolitics ducks in to say...

Posted December 21, 2015
...you're right. Hopefully someone from that scene sees this. From a writer's perspective you've said it all anyway. Thank you for that. I didn't know Greg had gone as well...that blew my mind for the second time in a few days. I'm thinking maybe an ayahuasca retreat might offer some sense of it all.

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bodypolitics reckons...

Posted December 21, 2015

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Andrew McMillen mumbles...

Posted December 22, 2015
Sorry for both of your losses, JB. I'm sure both men were enormously proud to watch your career unfold.

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Graem Sims reckons...

Posted December 22, 2015
Hi JB and Robbie. Many folk still in shock at Phil's tragic end. He was indeed a giant (albeit a skinny one) of the publishing game in Australia who influenced a legion of writers and editors to produce their best work. I appreciate your personal sense of loss but I can tell you there is absolutely no connection here with Greg's exit, and feel safe to assure you that there is no one on this planet, prominent or otherwise, who need feel anything other than profound sadness and grief at news of this or past events. gs

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Graem Sims ducks in to say...

Posted December 22, 2015
Hi JB and Robbie. Many folk still in shock at Phil's tragic end. He was indeed a giant (albeit a skinny one) of the publishing game in Australia who influenced a legion of writers and editors to produce their best work. I appreciate your personal sense of loss but I can tell you there is absolutely no connection here with Greg's exit, and feel safe to assure you that there is no one on this planet, prominent or otherwise, who need feel anything other than profound sadness and grief at news of this or past events. gs

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Kirk Willcox puts forth...

Posted February 4, 2016
Phil was a good man and it was always great to run into him, with his big smile and gentle, unassuming way. At our random encounters, we always had a conversation of some significance - whether it was the state of the surfing industry, the political issue of the day, the media landscape, or Kelly Slater's continued dominance of world surfing despite a then-receding hairline. Phil died tragically of course, but he was doing what he most loved - having gone for an early surf down at Bombo and still intently chasing that perfect wave. We have a Mason Stewart Publishing reunion coming up soon and we will most certainly toast Phil's life and legacy. Vale old mate - speed on through the light.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted February 4, 2016
Pour one out on my behalf. He was the man.

Kirk Willcox has opinions thus...

Posted February 4, 2016
Will do for sure John. Thanks for your post.

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"Paying it forward – writers helping writers". Guest Post by Steve Vincent

Posted December 15, 2015 into Writing by John Birmingham

I've been staying away from the screen after starting the day with a very exciting migraine. Luckily, to mark the publication of Nations Divided, his latest tome, Mr Steve Vincent has stepped in with a few timely words.

I'll post a separate entry with some info and maybe an extract from his book tomorrow.

Paying it forward – writers helping writers

It all started over beers. As it usually does.

I’d been offered a three-book deal for my Jack Emery series with Momentum, Pan Macmillan’s digtal-first imprint and I happened to be in Sydney. Emails were swapped, offices were raided and beers were thrown my way. It wasn’t quite lunch at the Park Hyatt, like I know JB gets when he’s visiting shadowy publishing industry figures, but it was pretty good for me.

At the meeting I got chatting with Joel Naoum from Momentum and Haylee Nash from Pan. We talked about a few of their other authors I enjoyed. I raised JB’s work, told them how much I enjoyed it and to pay him all the money. I’d like to think that my endorsement got an extra zero on the Hooper Trilogy advance, but I can’t be entirely certain.

Then, a few months later, they told me they’d asked JB to blurb my first novel, The Foundation, and he’d accepted. Better still, the blurb that came back was pretty damn nice. Though I’m not sure book blurbs make a jot of different to sales, especially to ebooks, it was a nice milestone for a new writer to get some kind words from one of my favourites.

This was only the second nicest thing he’d done for me. Months earlier, when I got the offer to publish with Momentum, I’d shot JB a message asking for some advice. The reply I got was both short and immensely valuable, and I ended up signing with them the next day. Eighteen months and three books later, I can confidently say I made the right decision.

These two things, though fairly small, were a bit of a buzz and an immense help, respectively. In a tough industry, a couple of small favours or bits of advice were hugely valuable. This was from a guy whose writing I respected and enjoyed, but who owed me absolutely nothing. We’ve now met shared a few beers and a chat around the festival circuit – where a few laughs and more advice has followed.

This support – from JB and a few other writers that I’m privelidged to know – has shown me the importance of ‘paying it forward’. That doesn’t mean I’ll read your manuscript, or introduce you to my publisher, or anything else that takes up way too much time or compromises me professionally. But I do my best to give advice when asked, buy Australian authors and give others a ‘nudge’ when I can.

Many of us – published writers, those who are working towards it and those who dream of it – are all climbing a mountain. Some never get any altitude at all, some make it a part of the way up and give up. Others fall. Very, very few make it to the top. Some see it as a contest, and will kick you down the mountain. Others will give you a hand if, as long as you’re not putting too much weight on them.

A few at the top get to enjoy the view, but most of the rest are just working our way up or trying not to fall. All we can do is keep working, hope readers enjoy the result and give each other a hand where we can. Now, with the release last week of my third book – Nations Divided –and the initial three book deal in the bag, I’m working on a few other things.

There’s no certainty at all, but I’m still loving the climb. Having others beside me to share it with just makes it all the more fun.

Steve P. Vincent is the author of the Jack Emery series of political thrillers – The Foundation, State of Emergency and Nations Divided. Connect with him on the web, Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads.

11 Responses to ‘"Paying it forward – writers helping writers". Guest Post by Steve Vincent’

KreepyKrawly reckons...

Posted December 15, 2015
Well if our lord and master has blurbed your books, we better give them a try... BTW Amazon has the prequel and first book in the series for nix... And I'm all for supporting Aussie authors.

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NBlob mutters...

Posted December 15, 2015
I thought only serial killers & assassins used Name Initial Name*.
Nice one JB, I love it when talking & drinking beer actually help. But it's not like you vaccinated a dam or something.
* & Presidents.

NBlob puts forth...

Posted December 15, 2015
& Well played Mr Vincent. Damn well played.

Darth Greybeard has opinions thus...

Posted December 16, 2015
Wrong again NBlob. I also go by Name Initial Name, at least on financial correspondence. Your lamentable so-called theory is thus utterly disproved.

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted December 17, 2015
I'd suggest it proves it.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted December 16, 2015
Forgive my hubris, but I believe the legal profession is similar to the profession of writing; both involve as much art as science, rely on inspiration and passion, and cannot really be successfully practiced alone. All of the professional writers I know are more than happy to provide advice to those attempting to join their profession. The same is true for attorneys, and for the same reasons, and not merely because a favor made is a debt unpaid.

But there is still an element of luck involved. You got lucky, Steve, in choosing to approach JB. Imagine what would have happened if you decided, instead, to seek out Dean Koontz?

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted December 17, 2015
You say collaborative & supportive, I say a cabal supping on the essence of conflict & personal horror.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted December 17, 2015
Blob, why do you hate professional writers?

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted December 17, 2015
Mostly jealousy, but partially for those stupid haircuts.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted December 18, 2015
Not to mention their penchant for emuing loose change on the pavement.

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Therbs mumbles...

Posted December 16, 2015
Looks like some more books to be had. also noticed that james Phelan has the third Jed Walker book out, Kill Switch.

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Neil Gaiman interviews da King

Posted December 14, 2015 into Writing by John Birmingham

I dips me lid to Guru Bob for this link. Neil Gaiman's long chat with Stephen King about the craft, being broke, being rich, and preferring Waffle House to fancy New York restaurants.


“I never think of stories as made things; I think of them as found things. As if you pull them out of the ground, and you just pick them up. Someone once told me that that was me low-balling my own creativity. That might or might not be the case. But still, on the story I am working on now, I do have some unresolved problem. It doesn’t keep me awake at nights. I feel like when it comes down, it will be there...”
King writes every day. If he doesn't write he's not happy. If he writes, the world is a good place. So he writes. It's that simple. “I sit down maybe at quarter past eight in the morning and I work until quarter to twelve and for that period of time, everything is real. And then it just clicks off. I think I probably write about 1200 to 1500 words. It's six pages. I want to get six pages into hardcopy.”

9 Responses to ‘Neil Gaiman interviews da King’

Dave W reckons...

Posted December 14, 2015
Well worth reading. Best line relates to the strange practices of a giant tortoise.

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insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted December 14, 2015
I've recently started reading 'On Writing'. It's all very interesting and sounds so simple, but I bet it ain't.

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Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted December 14, 2015
Sigh, that used to be my life before teaching. Write from seven to about eleven. Then I left Uniguard for teaching.

Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't go back to private security work. I definitely feel better when I write in the mornings.

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DarrenBloomfield mumbles...

Posted December 14, 2015
Thanks for sharing. Very interesting. I'll look forward to Dr Sleep.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted December 14, 2015
I didn't realise how old this was until i read the part about the Shining sequel. Its out, done and dusted.

Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted December 15, 2015

Yep, and lots of other stuff besides. Damn prolific.


If anything, I'd say that King's writing has improved since he went clean. It's more mature and the characters are more interesting.

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she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 14, 2015
Oh wow, that was magnificent.

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JFresh mumbles...

Posted December 15, 2015
I've read some SK books.I'll bet he smokes a lot of weed.

Nocturnalist has opinions thus...

Posted December 15, 2015
He certainly used to. There's a story in Danse Macabre about how he almost laughed himself into a hernia watching Robot Monster while stoned. He said he was convinced that if the film had been about twenty minutes longer he'd have laughed himself to death.

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