BOOK NEWS – DRUNK SLUTTY ELF AND ZOMBIES

Just a quick note.  DRUNK SLUTTY ELF AND ZOMBIES has been uploaded to IngramSpark.  It can now be ordered from the 40,000 platforms, including thousands of brick and mortar bookstores that IngramSpark spark!

Just a note of explanation – IngramSpark is to print books what Amazon is to Ebooks. They’re a giant publisher and distributor, hosting many titles, and providing services to small and independent publishers.  Getting onto IngramSpark is potentially a major breakthrough.

Does that mean I’ll be getting into real bookstores?  Probably not. The economics don’t quite work.

Basically, physical bookstores operate on a rip and return basis.  They order books, they try to sell them within a specific period of time. If they don’t, then they just rip off the covers, send them back, junk the rest and only pay for what they’ve sold.  Believe it or not, that’s the way it’s been working for a hundred years, and it’s been working fine… mostly. It’s the operating mode for books, magazines and newspapers.  And it works fine for big publishers, dealing in substantial volumes.

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TINY PLASTIC MEN – JUST GO WATCH IT

Tiny Plastic Men scores AMPIA award nominations | National Screen Institute - Canada (NSI)

I’m a horrible person. I freely admit that. But I’m not horrible all the time. I have moments when I’m even okay to be around.

And when those moments happen, you’ll find me searching for the gently quirky, the strange, the oddball. All those hidden treasures and diamonds in the rough we all go blasting past, on our way to our busy lives.

Which brings me to Tiny Plastic Men, a very quirky, very fun little television series that deserves cult status and a lot more attention than it seems to have gotten.

Tiny Plastic Men is about three guys who work in a little independent toy company, Gottfried Brothers. Gottfried isn’t Mattel or Lego, but by God, they’re in there giving it their all, from board games, to action figures, to video games and somehow, they’ve managed to care themselves a niche.

Our heroes are three peons who work in the testing department: Crad, played by Chris Craddock — the everyman of the group, middle aged, divorced, burnt out, anger issues and yet somehow struggling to get by and be a decent person while pining for his boss, for whom he nurses a crush; October, played by Mark Meer, who starts off goth and gets seriously weird, and Addison, played by Matthew Alden, a kind of stereotypical lovable lunk of a manchild. Rounding out the cast are Alexandra Gottfried, played by, Belinda Cornish, daughter of old man Gottfried, and a piranha in a woman’s body, who Crad pines for. Beyond that, there’s a revolving cast of recurring characters.

Given that this is a show about three buddies working as product testers in some second string toy factory, you shouldn’t expect this to be your regular sitcom about people sitting around their apartments or having real jobs in the real world. There’s a basic silliness to the premise, a bit of surrealism, a bit of absurdity, a lot of off the wall stuff. This is not Friends, trust me. It’s not even the Big Bang Theory.

In fact, I don’t think that there’s anything quite like it. The closest I can come to is a sort of Earthbound version of Red Dwarf or perhaps a more insane version of the IT Crowd.

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AI IS “NICE”

Robots | Amazing stories, Science fiction illustration, Science fiction magazines

That’s not a compliment. It’s a deception. AI is programmed to be ‘nice.’ It says ‘excuse me’ and “i think what you’re looking for’ and “oh sorry.”

It engages in what amounts to calming, engaging, non-confrontational, obsequious language.

That’s not real. It’s not even AI. There’s no real special programming involved in saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘excuse me.’

That’s just idiot coding, building obsequious tropes designed to give the impression of a friendly, slightly submissive, inoffensive, eager to please personality. Seriously, just pick out a couple of hundred mildly ass-kissing vague phrases, sprinkle them in to pop up randomly at appropriate places, and you have a simulation of a friendly helpful personality.

It’s so insidious and so simple that I’m stunned that all those automated customer service phone menus that we get stuck with, instead of real people haven’t been programmed with. But then again, those automated menus aren’t there to really help you, but to stream you, and if necessary get rid of you.

It’s definitely not real. There’s no actual personality, no actual identity, there’s no morals, ethics or judgment. It’s just a guise, wrapped around an AI interactive program, to enlist our sympathy and emotional engagement.

The problem with this fake ‘niceness’ is its seductive. We find ourselves trusting it, because it seems careful, because it seems to be earnestly trying its best, because it seems likable.

Me, I don’t trust nice. You k now who is ‘nice’? Predators. Con men. People who lie. People who want to sell you junk. People who want things to you that maybe you don’t want to give them. People who will hurt you.

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2-24 TORONTO WRITING WORKSHOP

Back from the 2024 TORONTO WRITING WORKSHOP it was a bit of a whirlwind. Flyout Friday evening, do the workshop, and fly back literally immediately.

Literally immediately:  The workshop ended at 5:00, took the cab to the airport, went through security and back home a few hours later.

So … the experience?

This was a bit different from other Conventions I’ve attended.  There were two tracks of programming, a couple of morning sessions, a couple of afternoon sessions, but that was peripheral. What really drove this Convention was the opportunity to make pitches to Agents and Editors.

I did attend a couple of programming sessions. Marketing yourself and Ten Keys to Writing Succes – they were okay, mostly inspirational. There were some practical sessions I didn’t make because I was doing pitches that would have been useful. I’m sorry I missed those.

There programming sessions I couldn’t care less about. Twelve ways to start a story, crafting satisfying endings, that kind of thing. I’ve been writing thirty years; I’ve got multiple short story and book credits. Don’t teach grandma how to suck eggs.

The Pitches:  It was like speed dating. Or what I’ve read speed dating is like.

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Welcome to the Attic! My Youtube Channel!

WELCOME TO THE PREMIERE of my new YouTube Channel “The Attic, with D.G. Valdron”, which will feature info on my books and novels, as well as takes on literature, movies and TV that may amuse and disturb.
The whole thing is driven by my friend, Dean Naday, the producer of the channel, and Patrick Lowe, our guest editor. Dean in particular is the driving force. Dean’s background is in Independent films, and he’s produced and directed works including The Exquisite Corpse, Momento Mori and StarWatchers.  Dean has been pushing us to get a youtube channel going, and I’m really looking forward to collaborating with him on an ongoing basis. Patrick of course, has his own Youtube channel and a long history as an animator and independent film maker.
There’s a video on last year’s booklaunch of my “Drunken Elf Chronicles” hosted by the Manitoba Writers’ Guild at Artspace, and a separate video on the questions and answers session during the event.  There’s also a movie review of “The Marvels”, and a video analysis on how the DCU failed as a superhero movie franchise. In the next couple of weeks I’ll have an introductory video on Dr. Who fan films, and a video on the Canadian cult sci-fi series “The Lexx”.
In the future there’ll be more videos related to my books, as well as movie and TV reviews, and perhaps interviews with other writers, artists and assorted mad and unsavoury types.
Please check out the channel, and consider liking, subscribing and commenting on the videos, and of course share with your friends and others who might appreciate the content.

DEATH AND THE ARTIST

I think that most Artists and Writers think a lot about three things: Sex, Death and God. Personally, God can take care of themself, and I’m not getting any sex. So let’s talk about Death, specifically, Death and the Artist… or Writer in my case.

Once in a while, quite erratically, someone says something, and it triggers some random synapses in my brain, and for no discernible reason, I say something sensible. It’s always disturbing when it happens, and often quite frightening for anyone nearby. It’s like discovering that a Bengal Tiger has hacked your GPS and passwords. But anyway, since I had one of those moments, I thought I’d share, for people in the arts field.

Suppose you’re a writer or an artist, someone in the creative field. A poet, a playwright, a short story writer or a novelist, a composer, a lyricist, a film maker, etc. Maybe you are, in which case my sympathies.

Maybe you aren’t, in which case, just pretend.

Now, suppose you’re going to die.

Well, there’s no supposing that is there? You’re going to die, in relative terms sooner than later, and in geological terms, any minute now.

But never mind that – as an artist or a writer, what happens when you die?

THE POST MORTEM LIFE

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2023 Writing Wrap Up

Writing Accomplishments and Non Accomplishments

Well, here’s the year end writer’s status report. There’s nothing much to say, really. You don’t have to read this. Every year, around New Years, out of some masochistic impulse, I do a review of my writing activities and accomplishments for the year, and my plans for the next year. Sometimes I’ll go back after writing one of these things, and measure myself against previous years activities and plans. So in the spirit of talking to my future self, here’s the roundup for 2023.

Early in February, I re-released the Mermaid’s Tale. This novel was originally published in 2017 through Five Rivers out in Ontario. They did print, ebook and audiobook editions. Five Rivers closed down in 2020, and rights reverted back to me.

I sat on it for a few years. I had hopes of finding another publisher, or an agent for it. No luck. So, basically, I decided that if I couldn’t take it anywhere, I might as well get it back into the world, so I re-released it under my own banner.

Apart from that, very little of my work got out in the world. I did do a lot of writing as always. I think probably a couple of hundred thousand words worth.

* Two Novellas, 27,000 and 40,000 words;

* Several short stories and a script, probably collectively another 50,000 words;

* Some work in progress stuff for upcoming collections, 40,000 words;

* Alt-History fanfic stuff (don’t judge me) maybe 60,000 to 70,000;

* A lot of short essays, mostly posted on medium or facebook or on my blog, no clear idea – anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000.

A lot of writing, and almost nothing to show for it. Rather disappointing.

There were actually a lot of books that I was going to complete and release this year that just didn’t get off the ground:

* An adult/erotic novel;

* A couple of erotic short story collections (it was going to be one, but I had enough material for two);

* A vampire novel;

* A slasher collection/novel;

* A nonfiction book about Starlost;

* A Cthulhu/Atlantis style spec essay book;

And I was hoping At Bay Press would be releasing Twilight of Echelon this year.

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Thoughts on this Writing Business

Recently, I came across a year end wrap up by Ron Vital, a writer. Basically, he’s been working at this writing thing pretty hard core. And he’s been doing annual wrap ups, providing detailed breakdowns in terms of his expenses, his sales, his sales breakdowns and his marketing and promotional efforts going back six or seven years.

In some ways, we’re pretty similar. We’ve both been self publishing for about the same length of time. We’ve both kind of had this lead time of the first few years not making very much. We’ve both moved up dramatically in sales in the last few years. We both write and publish a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. We both have a lot of books.

Where Ron differs from me is that he’s much more meticulous about keeping track of what he’s spending and how, what he’s trying, where the money is going, and whether it produces a return. He’s also deliberately investing more and heavily into selling his books.

Now for me, I pretty much do no marketing at all. No bookbub, no book funnel, no amazon ads, facebook ads, no newsletter, etc. etc Certainly not in the methodical and meticulous way that he does it.

So here are the awkwards. He is heavy duty working at marketing, to the point where for most years he went heavily into the red. His last two years, he netted a profit of about $25 and then $500 (mostly by reducing expenses).

But we made about the same amount of money in terms of gross sales and revenue. Actually, I think I’ve consistently done better. Not necessarily by huge gigantic increments. But in terms of grosses, I think I’m about $500 to $1000 ahead.

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Conventions Update

THE WORLD FANTASY CONVENTION in Kansas City is coming up. Kansas City is actually in Missouri, a fact which provides me with no end of bemusement. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been to several World Fantasy Conventions over the years, but too irregularly to do much good. I’m trying to make it a steady thing.  This should be a good Conference, good people, and maybe I’ll make a mark. I’m actually part of the programming, I have three items:

* Mythology & Fantasy of the Fox; 4PM Friday – with Alyc Helms, Kij Johnson, Rena Mason and Gillian Pollack. Hopefully this has nothing to do with what the Fox says. The Fox in literature and myth is one of the classic tricksters – a powerless, marginalized underdog who manages to triumph and overcome, not through power or strength or even courage, but through sheer cleverness. For the powers that be, for the establishment and social order, the Fox is a subversive, a deceiver, a persecutor and a thief. For the marginalized and underdogs, the fox is a hero. Everyone admits the fox is a clever beast, anti-social, revolutionary, and damned sexy. In my writing, many of my characters are ‘foxes’ – tricksters who survive by being smart.  I’m really looking forward to this panel, and a discussion about ‘trickster’ characters in folklore, modern culture and writing. Oh, and I’ll give away a book to an audience member as part of the panel.

* Reading; 5PM Saturday – I have half an hour to do a reading. I’m going to regale the audience with tales from Twilight of Echelon, short stories and vignettes based on the retro hallucinogenic works of artist Robert Pastern. Echelon is a world, or perhaps a reality, or perhaps something completely different, right next to our own, where everything familiar is recast and distorted as surreal and mysterious, and where the lost members of a human colony struggle to maintain their identity, unsure if the Earth they remember still exists, or if it ever existed.  Again, I’ll give away a book.

* Autographs – I’m also doing the Autograph session, along with everyone else. Honestly, in terms of fame, I’m a Z-list kind of guy, but I’m always startled to discover someone out there has heard of me and actually brings a book to sign. Typically, what I do, is just set up a display of a dozen of my books, relax and chat with anyone who stops by. If someone wants to buy something, I’ll sell it to them. If I like them, it’s free. I usually bring up a handful of books and make sure they find good homes before the convention starts.

This is actually my fourth major Writers Conference/Convention this year, and honestly, I’m glad I’m coming to the end.  I’m starting to get worn out.  For the record, this is what I’ve been up to.

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