Thinking about penises, dolphins, and elephant trunks

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My mind wanders, and to very odd places sometimes.  Maybe it’s because I’m an author; or perhaps it’s why I’m an author … I’m not even sure if there’s a difference.

This time it wandered to the notions of male power and phallic symbolism.

Certain people see phalluses everywhere they look and decide this is signs of male dominance.  If that’s the case, then perhaps it’s also a sign of God‘s gender, because the criterion I’ve encountered in scholarly attempts at these kinds of arguments really seem to amount to “anything even vaguely cylindrical is a phallus”.

Case in point:  A critique of the Little House books that I don’t recall terribly well, but it relied on the idea that Pa’s rifle was, in some way, symbolic of both his penis and his power.  Funnily enough, I strongly suspect that it was a symbol of nothing at all, and was a factual hollowed tube of metal which lobbed high velocity chunks of lead for the purposes of self-defence and obtaining of meats.

Really, by this same reasoning, dolphins are phallic symbols, elephants’ trunks are …

Thing is, some things just need to be cylinders or approximately so.  A streamlined shape for going through water?  Phallic.  A streamlined way to fill something up with high explosives so that it can reach escape velocity in a vertical orientation?  Phallic.  What other shape would you have them be?

I saw an image of a woman standing beside a taxi she’d made up to look like a vagina — it was interesting, but you must admit, not terribly aerodynamic.

True, yes, we are in a patriarchal society; true, yes, men do hold greater power than women (at least in Western culture, there are exceptions on some of the non-Western societies as I understand them); true, yes, symbolism can exist in certain things.  I just find it so amusing that so many feminists have penises on the mind to such extent that when they see a portabello  they see a man’s genitals.

This isn’t to say that, at times, penises are’t hiding places; either by design, mistake, or a bit of both.  Whether or not they’re symbolic of anything, I’m sure, varies.  Some fantasy book covers of a few decades ago?  Those towers and castles that look like towers and castles, nah; some of the more creative ones that … maybe at first glance might be modelled after mushrooms … look again, few mushrooms have a small slit at the point — that’s a penis.  A gun, no — a projectile weapon of that sort can’t help its shape; until we have particle beam weapons there’s no other pragmatic form, after that we can start maybe shaping them like trumpets since we may want to accelerate the particles or beams before ejecting them … still a ray-gun modelled after a pistol or rifle is just to keep it recognisable … the rayguns of more than a few 50s pulp SF mags and novels which had that odd little, shall we say ‘knob’ on the end?  Mmm-hmmm …

I honestly believe, especially in the case of the book covers, that a lot more of it is sophomoric silliness than any malicious anti-feminism.  I might be wrong, certainly wouldn’t be the first time; but such is life.  I just think that in the case of being taken seriously in a matter it is wise to think over the arguments in question.  That needless phallic symbols are places is undeniable, but are they malicious or childish?  The former is certainly a terrible thing, the latter is certainly foolish and rude, but hardly a statement against anyone’s rights.  It’s a reversable thing — making vaginal symbolism for malicious purposes makes you no better than the penis-mongers, making it to be sophomoric makes you no more clever, but it can also be used to make a positive and important statement — it all comes down to intent combined with reasonable interpretation.  But first you just have to relax and ask yourself: is this a cigar or a big brown dick, to paraphrase George Carlin.

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Nominate your favourite indie author(s)

I hope, maybe, some of you will nominate Love or Lust certainly I do hope that some indie author or other has put a book out in the past year that has inspired or impressed you enough to nominate he or she.  You can also, by the by, nominate multiple books/authors.

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The 50 Self-Published Novels Worth Reading (2013/14)

Nominations Now Open!!!

We need your help in putting together a list of some of the best self-published books from the past year. Read something great? Nominate it. Written something great? Urge a fan to nominate it.

The interest our list has already generated has been phenomenal; in the three days since we opened up nominations it has already become our most popular post ever. That’s great for our ego, but more importantly, it means that whichever books make the list will get the exposure they deserve.

The Rules

1. The book must be self-published or published by a small, “indie-minded” house.
2. The book must have been published on or after 1 January, 2013.
3. The book must be available for purchase, in paperback or ebook format, from a large store – Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
4. Only nominations received on or before 21 April, 2014 will be considered.

Haven’t read a self-published book yet? Here are some we think might be worth your consideration.

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Getting fed up with Amazon

Warning:  I’m highly annoyed, in a foul mood, and not much inclined to be remotely charitable to a certain major corporation just now.

Well, my 75% off sale is up and going. … except Amazon.

They were one of the first places I set the sale, but they haven’t seen fit to post the new price.

I contacted their support and, after an unprofessionally long wait (most others respond within hours if not minutes, Amazon typically is best measured in days) they replied … the price change page hadn’t loaded properly so a key step was missed. Lovely of then to finally say so this morning. Got it sorted, and it’s been almost 12hrs … still no change. Should I mention that the price hasn’t even dropped through automatic price matching yet?!

This is not my first issue with Amazon, and I imagine it will not be my last. Simply put, they can be decently professional to their consumers, to judge by anecdotes at work, if people need to return or exchange something, but in their inter-professional dealings they are, frankly, insulting. So much so that if they were not currently such a major bookseller that I sell more copies per month there than I do in all other estores combined in a quarter, I’d drop them.

They have the slowest response time when contacted for issues and their responses are less attentive to what was said. Their terms are among the worst in the industry. Their format is obtuse and needlessly complex; not to mention stiflingly proprietary. Their KDP site, while not horrible, is not so intuitive as others. Finally there is the treatment: you are a charity and potential customer, not a serious business interaction – you are inundated with offers for premium services you can buy and denied options afforded to larger publishing houses (pre-orders and certain options that Tor has without exclusivity that little ol’ me mayn’t have).

Why say all of this? Information is a powerful tool. Most people perceive Amazon and Kindle in a very positive light. Certainly they are not Satan manifest, but neither are they the greatest company on Earth.

For those who prefer companies that treat everyone interacting with them with equal respect and professionalism I recommend Apple, Kobo, and the group behind All Romance eBooks (all of whom carry my book).

I’m not saying to cease using Amazon nor to trash your Kindle … but if you are already feeling a bit dissatisfied, perhaps this is one more reason to look at that iPad or similar you’ve been eyeing.

Love or Lust (ebook) now on sale!

Love or Lust coverUntil 2 March 2014 you can get Love or Lust in ebook for 75% off!

I wanted to celebrate how very close I am to having Ready or Not on shelves and this seemed a good way to do it.

I desperately wish I could cut my print price too — but that option still is simply not possible.

Follow the links to the book’s page, from there it can take you to your favourite ebookstore.

If your favourite still shows the normal price — give it a couple hours to a day.  I just launched the sale, and some stores don’t update in real time (Nook, Kobo, and Kindle I know don’t).

I feel kind of … professional now

Best bag in the verse Messenger bag inspired by Kaylee’s work clothes Canvas exterior with floral print interior Store strawberries, engine parts, and more $39.99

So my old way of carrying my works in progress was getting cumbersome — and old backpack with lots of pockets filled to the gills with paperclipped stacks of paper all covered in handwriting.

Today, I’ve cleaned that out and now I’ve got one of ThinkGeek‘s Firefly Kaylee-Inspired Messenger Bags.

Okay, so how does this make me feel professional?  It’s a green bag with a teddy bear (a fuzzy teddy bear, I’d like to add!) on the front.

Well, it’s the whole satchel thing isn’t it?  An artiste’s primary prop since sometime in the 19th century or so, right?  How cool is this?!

Besides, it actually, despite having fewer pockets than the backpack, should help me stay better organised.  It’ll also be less havoc on my back and shoulders — that backpack was ridiculously heavy, but it also wasn’t the best designed at coping with gravity, either.  Now, the bag itself isn’t very helpful for organisation — aforementioned lack of pockets — but its layout is very conducive to me getting things sorted out better.

One day I might even carry a laptop and a tablet in it.  That could prove interesting.

On a more serious note, this thing is less unweildy and stupidly big, much more like an over-sized handbag versus that foot and a half thick backpack, to say nothing of the fact that one makes people ask you what subjects you’re studying and the other makes them ask you what you’re working on — even with the teddy bear.

This is the first thing I’ve bought from the lovely people at ThinkGeek that wasn’t something on the order of a poster or piece of computer hardware, but if this bag is representative of the quality of the things carrying their personal label, then I do very much recommend paying them a visit.  They have other bags a bit less FireFly fan (more D&D fan, or at least the name is).

Well, I’m off to find a better way to keep track of which several inches of paper is which story/chapter.

Love to all.

Another 5-Stars!

I was poking around on Amazon and discovered something:  A week ago today I received another 5-star review!

You can, of course, read it here.

It’s always nice to feel appreciated, and that the book is well liked.  I’m even happier to see that it seems to really … resonate?  Resonate seems a good word, we’ll use that.   Yeah, it resonates with people.  It’s warming to know that the characters are so endearing, or that the story itself is in some way moving or touching.

I’ve seen it said recently (it was a quote from another writer posted to The Indie View’s Facebook page, if I recall correctly) that artists are kind of schizophrenic.  At one and the same time we’re incredibly confident and full of pride, and nervous wrecks with absolutely no self-esteem.  It seems true — on one hand we feel as though our work ought to be shared with the world, so there’s your pride and ego; on the other hand we’re absolutely convinced (well, most of us, exceptions like Anne Rice exist — I’m not a fan, don’t ask about her books, I’ve never even watched Interview With a Vampire) that our work is awful and that we will be belittled and berated, stopped in the street and spat upon … well, okay, maybe not quite that bad, but some pretty terrible things and emotions do go through our minds and flood out through our mouths.  I’ve nearly got myself strangled by close friends I fretted so much ~blush~.

Any of you still waiting to buy the book, Kindle edition is 99¢ right now, and the iBooks version is free.

Oh, and for those waiting on a status report for Ready or Not: Delayed. Editor had some issues with her gall bladder. She’s feeling better now, but some other problems decided to come play “kick ’em while they’re down” with her so she’s still rather out of sorts. Things will hopefully get back on track soon and, with luck, we’ll at least have a release around the 1yr anniversary of Love or Lust … pray for a little luck and we might even manage a new years or Valentine’s release, but I wouldn’t suggest any holding of breath for earlier than Easter.

Status update

Well, I’m still in queue for my editor’s attention on Ready or Not.  The final two chapters I’m waiting for input from her before I start rewriting, because I’m not sure if I ought to totally throw them out or just parts.

Færie Patrol is still waiting for me to finish with Now & Forever.  At least, for the time being.  It’d be one thing if I paused the latter to work on the former, but in this case I’m not stuck because of burnout or brain freeze, I’m stuck simply because I need a clean ending to book 2 before I can really get book 3 kicked off properly.

Book 3 has no name yet, but it has a concept.  I know what’s going to be happening in it.  It, like Love or Lust, and unlike Ready or Not will have a more of an actual A plot throughout.  I’ll have a page for it with a proper blurb once I’ve thought of a properly witty title for it.

Love or Lust continues to sell.  No longer at the spectacular numbers of July — sadly — but selling.  At no point was it threatening to pay all my bills so I could quit my day job, but Christmas is pretty fair covered.  Thank you, everyone, again, for all the support.  Those of you still waiting to buy it, I understand — I’ve been there; in this economy one must prioritise one’s new novel allowance.  That said, maybe I should buy a few print copies and seed them to local used bookstores … one mustn’t prioritise one’s used book allowance — that’s a perfectly preposterous notion 😉

Still room in the next edition

I know a lot of you following this blog are authors, and virtually all of you who are authors are of the indie sort.

We all know exposure is hard to come by.  Our books can’t sell if no one knows they exist!  So, we need rooftops to shout from, metaphorical as well as physical.

Indie Book Buffet‘s second edition isn’t full yet.  This magical link will whisk you away on ethereal winds to the form where you submit your title to them.

It’s free, the people who run the eZine are very friendly and wonderful.  It’s win-win.  Even better?  It can only work better.  I was in the first issue, yet there clearly were people who read the zine, the give-away I was part of had its 5 winners (all of whom got a free copy of Love or Lust from DriveThruFiction).

So!  Go on, check it out, you know you want to.

Goodreads giveaway ended, Indie Book Buffet to begin

The 4 autographed paperbacks of Love or Lust have been claimed through the Goodreads giveaway contest.

Congratulations to the winners.

Those of you still looking to win yourselves a free copy of the book should check out the first issue of the Indie Book Buffet eZine coming Thursday.

Also — you can keep reading the blog and perhaps subscribe to it.  You never know when I’ll post a code or link for a free copy somewhere.

The Indie Book Buffet — First Edition

The Indie Book Buffet's First Edition Giveaway!A free monthly online magazine (also available in print for a small fee) starting on August 1st 2013 that will feature a Genre-By-Genre selection of extracts from up and coming independent authors. It’s a great way to read free samples of new indie books!

And to kick it off the folks behind the zine are hosting a huge giveaway (in case the giant image to the right here was too subtle).

A lot of awesome books will be showcased — you can, in fact, see Love or Lust‘s cover there next to the I — from a lot of indie authors.

No I’ve no direct part, other than contributing some copies to the giveaway.  I just think this is a pretty great idea and want to help spread the word.  Really some quite remarkable writers have elected to eschew the traditional model for publishing and this is one more way to help people find them.

certainly plan to give it a look.  The info is on Facebook.