The Dead Years In LakersLand

I have been a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers since 1968 when, at the age of four, I would listen to Chick Hearn call the Lakers games on the radio. Well, I was a fan from 1968 until the draft just before last season at any rate.

lalElgin Baylor, Jerry West, Happy Hairston, Gail Goodrich, Pat Reily, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob McAdoo, Jamaal Wilkes, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kurt Rambis, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Robert Horry, Derrick Fisher, and Pau Gasol were just some of the many great Lakers I watched play over the years.

When the Lakers hired Luke Walton as their head coach I was thrilled. He’s a young coach who is a proven winner – just look what he did in place of Steve Kerr for the Warriors a few years back. The Lakers had a core of good young players that Walton could mold into a very strong team that could contend for a title.

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Good Magic

But Magic Johnson, who was the greatest point guard to ever play the game, seems dead set on proving that as bad as he was as a head coach he will be even worse as a GM. (Yes, I know that’s not his official title, but please, that is what his role is for the Lakers)

Last year he threw away the Lakers first round pick on Lonzo Ball, passing up on at least three or four better players. All anyone with a clue needed to know that Ball was going to be a bust in the NBA was to watch the disappearing act Ball pulled at UCLA against Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament that spring before the draft. His rookie season last year was dismal and it will likely be his best as a pro.

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Bad Magic

Magic also bungled the chance to get Paul George onto the Lakers last year. Instead of pulling the trigger on a mid-season trade with Indiana, he smugly assumed George would come to LA no matter where he spent the final half of last year. George ended up in Oklahoma City and signed a long-term deal with the Thunder. Well done, Earvin. (Hint: Yes, that was sarcasm.)

Then Johnson fell for the hype that is LeBron James. I am not a fan of James and haven’t been since “The Decision”. That stunt he, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh pulled to create a super team in Miami was a farce that violated the spirit of the salary cap rules in the NBA. I don’t recall Magic, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan pulling the same stunt when they played.

So, as the Lakers start the season 0-3 I say good. I hope they go 0-82. I hope they go 0-82 every year that James and Ball wears a Lakers’ jersey. Magic traded away great young players to get these two jokers. Now I hope he reaps the dismal losing records that will follow.

And when James, Ball and Magic are no longer with the team, then and only then, will I proclaim myself a Lakers’ fan once again. For now, the Magic-Ball-LeBrat years are dead to me.

 

Dear Elizabeth Warren,…

Stop it. Seriously, Senator, enough is enough.

The “DNA Test” results you released yesterday are laughable. They were also unneccessary. No one – well no one capable of logical thought – believes for one second that you have a legitimate claim to being “Native American”. And no one buys your claim that you’ve never used that claim to advance yourself on several occassions. There are just too many proven instances where you have done just that.

Unlike you, I can point directly at the ancestor on my maternal side who was Cherokee, and at my third great-grandmother, she gives me a higher percentage of Native American DNA that even the most generous reading of your bogus test gave you.

And also unlike you, I have never considered using my Native American ancestry to any economic advantage, even though I wance given the option to do just that. And the job was one I really wanted. All I had to do, said the HR person, was check the box. I wouldn’t have to prove how much the percentage was, just check the box and the job was mine.

I didn’t check the box. Because to me it was lying and it would be disrespectful to the tribes. I wasn’t raised Native American. I had no business trying to claim something that belongs to them.

I didn’t get the job, it went to a minority candidate instead – one that actually was a minority – and I haven’t regretted that decision for a second. I will win or lose with honor and dignity. Two things you seem to be sorely lacking, Senator.

BTW, using DNA from South American sources?  Yeah, that isn’t anywhere near the same genetic area code as Native American.

If I were a citizen of Massachusetts, I would be deeply ashamed to have to claim Elizabeth Warren as one of my two Senators. I feel your pain. Up until earlier this year I had spent several years in California having to admit Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris were my Senators.

Unhappily, I had to move to find a place where I could happily claim my state’s Senators, Deb Fisher and Ben Sasse. Happily for you folks in Massachusetts you can vote in a new Senator you can take pride in. In your case, anyone else you elect will be a vast improvement.

But for now, all I can do is echo the words of the Cherokee Nation on this matter: “Buzz off, pretentious, pale-faced faker!”

2018 Dragon Awards

The biggest bummer about being put on the DL by the Doc and not being in Atlanta this weekend was missing the Dragon Awards.

In only its third year, the Dragons have become the crème de la crème of science fiction and fantasy awards. With these awards we get a very good read on what the real fans of SF/F like. So without further ado, here’s a list of the winners, who I voted for as well as (for the first time) who I originally nominated.

But first, a hearty congratulations to all of the winners as well as all of the nominees. All you should be as proud as hell. This was a great honor and accomplishment.

Now, to the winners:

The 2018 Dragon Awards

Best Science Fiction Novel: Artemis by Andy Weir 

My Vote: Artemis by Andy Weir

My Original Nomination: Torchshop Captain by Karl Gallagher

Best Fantasy Novel: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

My Vote: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

My Original Nomination: War Demons by Russell Newquist

Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

My Vote: When Tinker Met Bell by Alethea Kontis

My Original Nomination: The Awful Truth About Forgetting by L. Jagi Lamplighter

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel: A Call to Vengeance by David Weber, Timothy Zahn, and Thomas Pope

My Vote: A Call to Vengeance by David Weber, Timothy Zahn, and Thomas Pope

My Original Nomination: A Place Called Hope by Daniel Humphreys

Best Alternate History Novel: Uncharted by Kevin J. Anderson and Sarah A. Hoyt

My Vote: Uncharted by Kevin J. Anderson and Sarah A. Hoyt

My Original Nomination: A Wrambling Wreck by Hans Schantz

Best Media Tie-In Novel: Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray

My Vote: Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray

My Original Nomination: The Auto-Biography of Jean Luc-Picard by David A. Goodman

Best Horror Novel: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

My Vote: A Time To Run by Mark Wandrey

My Original Nomination: Secret Stairs: Tribute to Urban Legend (Anthology)

Best Comic Book: Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron and James Harren, Marvel Comics

My Vote: Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron and James Harren, Marvel Comics

My Original Nomination: Alt-Hero by Vox Day

Best Graphic Novel: Brandon Sanderson’s White Sand Volume 1 by Brandon Sanderson, Rik Hoskin, and Julius M. Gopez, Dynamite Entertainment 

My Vote: Brandon Sanderson’s White Sand Volume 1 by Brandon Sanderson, Rik Hoskin, and Julius M. Gopez, Dynamite Entertainment

My Original Nomination: No nomination made.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series: Game of Thrones, HBO

My Vote: Stranger Things

My Original Nomination: The Orville (Fox)

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie: Black Panther directed by Ryan Coogler

My Vote: Blade Runner 2049

My Original Nomination: Bright (Netflix)

DID NOT NOMINATE OR VOTE

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game: Middle-earth: Shadow of War by Monolith Productions

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery by Jam City

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game: Red Dragon Inn 6: Villains by Slugfest Games

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game: Magic: The Gathering Unstable by Wizards of the Coast

 

You Are Overpaying For Your E-Books

When we first relocated to Omaha, my wife continued her pre-workday morning routine. A stop at Starbucks on the way to work to drop $10 on a coffee and a blueberry oatmeal.

But one day we pulled up and found the drive-thru 15 cars deep and a line out the door. So we drove across the street to a local place called Scooters. She got a coffee, a milk and a breakfast burrito. And only spent $7.

That’s right, she got more for less. Better yet, the coffee and food at Scooters was better than any Starbucks she’d ever visited. Over the space of one work-year, she’ll spend $1,000 less. Think of what we can use that extra grand for.

Right now, you’re trying to figure out what this post’s headline has to do with saving $3 every morning. Well, let me tell you.

If you buy e-books from the bigger traditional publishers, or those smaller ones that charge the same as the “Big” boys do, you are spending anywhere from $9.99 and up on an e-book.

Mind you, that e-book does not require production costs of paper and ink. Nor does it need to be physically shipped. It does not require a warehouse to be stored in or a bookshop to find a shelf to rest upon until it is purchased.

Anyone charging more than $4.99 for an e-book should be ashamed of themselves. And yes, I know that three anthologies I am in are running above that price. I know the publisher of those anthologies. They are nice people. They are also dead wrong about the pricing. I can still like them and call them out for what I feel is a bad business practice.

What is even worse is a publisher charging nearly $9 for an e-book from a novel released years, sometimes even decades, before. For example, Tor is charging $8.99 for John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, a 300-page novel released in 2005.

Seriously? This one should be $3.99 at most. Because every sale is just gravy on top of the gravy already poured on the money made off of the book over the last 13 years. Then again, Tor has been throwing around money on advances that would make Paul Manafort blush. But why should you the consumer have to pick up the tab for their poor business decision making?

No. The price of e-books are ridiculously out of whack. Most of my books – the ones that I have direct control over the pricing – run $2.99. The most expensive one you’ll find is $5.99 and that is an e-book containing ALL three Del Rio novels. So you are basically buying two books out of the series and getting the third one for free when you buy that one.

Those are fair prices, for both you the reader and me the author. I don’t expect you to pick up the tab for me to eat filet mignon and drink champagne every day. Many small publishers and Indie authors get this. They offer their e-books from as low as $0.99 on up to $4.99.

My upcoming six-book Timeless novella series will run $0.99 each for the e-books. Because they are aimed at younger readers I want them to be able to easily get them without breaking their parents’ bank accounts.

Sadly, not every publisher or author seems to care about the readers they are, in my opinion, fleecing like a flock of sheep.

For example, one Nick Mamatas – who claims to be a writer – released a new book the other day for $9.99 and promptly got taken to task by the very first reviewer to comment on his book’s Amazon page.

The reviewer made the point that the price tag for the work was well more than the reviewer considered appropriate and listed several other authors that the reviewer felt provided better content for a much fairer price.

That was it. No personal attack on the author, just a valid observation on a perceived lack of value in return for the amount spent on the product in question. Nick, reportedly, lost his shit. Wailing to the cosmos at large on his social media about how unfair this criticism was.

First, Nick violated the first rule of reviews for authors. Never respond to the negative reviews – aside from thanks for reading it. You never look good when you attack a reviewer for giving their honest opinion – whether you feel it is justified or not.

Second, maybe Nick should have taken a second or two to consider this from the reviewer’s point of view. Maybe this person has a limited budget to devote to their book buying.

With the same $10 bucks that person just dropped on your one book, they could buy three of mine and walk away with at least a dollar ($4 if they bought the All-in-one Del Rio series e-book) in their pocket. Getting more for less is always attractive, especially when the quality of the less costly product is the superior of the two.

So the question those of you charging $9 or more for one e-book is this: Why? You don’t have to. You really don’t.

Amazon pays a royalty of  70% or roughly $6.90 for every e-book copy sold. If you are an Indie author, you’d get the full amount. A publisher like Tor gets the full amount and pays the author a percentage out of that royalty. It doesn’t take many sales for that to add up to a large chunk of cheddar.

At $2.99 each, as I am full-Indie, I get about $2 a book. And that’s just fine for me. Better yet, my readers get a great story and have some money left over. Say, to buy a coffee at Starbucks (or your local equivalent of Scooters) to sip while they are reading one of my books, perhaps?

So what do you say Nick? Tor? All of the other larger presses overcharging for something that you can’t even hold in your hand by itself? What say you all?

Let’s bring those sky-high e-book prices back down to Earth and give the readers out there more for their money. Before we price our readers out of the market.

Because without them we have nothing.

 

 

Good Guys 1, Pirates 0

Good news, the first of the four illegally uploaded copies of the audiobook edition of Escaping Infinity has been taken down by YouTube. The remaining copies will soon follow suit.

It turns out a quick e-mail to Audible this morning led to a quick e-mail from Audible to YouTube and after a little bit of this:

 

The illegal copy was dispatched.

If you are an author or narrator, please search YouTube – and do the search after you have logged out if you have an account – to make sure your content has not been stolen too.

If it has, file a complaint with both YouTube and Audible and action will be taken. Audible is losing a ton of money on these pirated copies and they are cracking down hard on the practice. But they need us to help them spot all of the illegal uploads.

But for tonight at least, the pirates have taken a shot amidships. They are taking on water and listing badly.

And that’s a good thing for the good guys!

And if you’d like to obtain a copy of one of my books, e-book or audio, please follow this link and purchase one of the many books you will find Amazon links to on the page.

A Blast From The Past

I’ve been doing a lot of interviews on radio shows and online blogs about writing and my books.

There’s one that is coming up soon that has an interesting idea. They ask their guests to talk about their first library, the one where they got into reading. The idea being that this early introduction to reading planted the seed for the writing to come.

And I think its a great idea. No spoilers, you’ll have to wait a few weeks for mine to show. I will link to it when it goes live. But they also asked for a picture of their guest reading at a young age – or something reading related if no photo existed.

I started reading when I was four. You would think as often as I had my face buried in a book someone would have snapped a photo. But after a lengthy search across several states, no photo was found.

But there was one picture of me at about four years of age. And it may have foreshadowed what was to come. Here it is…

 

Early_Scribe_Sighting

I don’t have a clear memory of this moment – hey cut me some slack, its been 50 freaking years – but rumor has it that my story started out this way…

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