Archive | October, 2014

Internalized self-pub-o-phobia

30 Oct

I have noticed an unsettling trend with myself lately. I’ve been doing a lot of eBook searches, looking for reading material. What I’ve noticed is, if I get the impression that a book is self-published, I have a tendency to think, “The writing is probably crap,” and pass it by.

And I myself have a self-published novel.

I think we’re past the point where one can assume that books that have not been accepted by a publisher are a sign of a weak writer. And yet, that lingering assumption remains in my head.

You’d think, for $2.99, or 0.99, I could take a chance on a book. I’d want a reader to do the same for me.

Thinking on it, though, I believe my reaction does not arise from the simple fact that a particular book is self-published. I never actually check for a publishing house on say, an Amazon book page. What I do look at is the description of the book: how it’s written, if the author inserts him/herself into it somehow (the use of “me/I/mine” in regards to a book is a dead give-away); the cover illustration’s professionalism; and the price.

If I’m not immediately aware that, “Oh, this is self-published” and the description sounds interesting, I’ll download a sample, or read reviews. Then, it’s a matter of how well edited the book is, and if the layout appears professional.

I think for lazy book browsers like myself, if a self-published book gives the appearance of professionalism in its format, editing, and writing style, I’ll assume it’s published, and won’t have the impulse to reject it out of hand.

The interplanetary Bechdel Test

25 Oct

With apologies to the actual Bechdel Test, which is about gender in TV, film, and other fictional media.

I am reading Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells, which got 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon with 1,115 raters. Honestly, I am not sure how it got that rating. The story was pretty good up to the point where Aliens, aliens, always aliens

Oodles of Mars Comet links

19 Oct


Image credit: NASA JPL

This morning, I’m really flummoxed that I don’t have that telescope Santa keeps promising me for Christmas. I was out ogling the early morning sky, and it was possible to see comet Siding Spring near Mars then, hours before its closest fly-by (2:27 PM EDT, 11:27 PM PDT, 18:27 GMT). That’s day time in North America, and yet the real irony belongs to Australia, where the comet was originally discovered last year. The comet closest fly-by won’t even be in their sky at all. The Deep Space Network dishes in Europe, the US, and Puerto Rico can watch.

The comet will scrape by Mars at a distance of 82,000 miles. That’s a third of the distance between Earth and the Moon. Comet Siding Spring originates from the Oort Cloud, a cloud of comets that surrounds our sun at a distance almost quarter of the way to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri.

There are spacecraft in orbit of the planet Mars from the US, the European Space Agency, and India. They will all be ducked behind the far side of the planet during closest comet approach. But as they swing back around, they might still get a bit of comet dust on them. This has the potential to be very, very bad. A tiny spec of comet junk flying at enormous speed could punch holes right through an orbiting tin can like Earthling’s Mars satellites.

Hopefully, though, all they’ll catch are some cool photos.

The rovers on the surface of Mars will be safe due to the Martian atmosphere, but alas, the poor little guys will also experience closest fly-by during daylight hours.

Mars and Siding Spring will become visible again in North America after sunset this evening.