Sunday, November 23, 2014

Counting down to the great big book sale

Don't forget, folks - you have only a few more days to pre-order "Knights in White Bondage" for  $.99 before it goes live at $2.99. And December 1-3, you'll be able to purchase almost all my other ebooks at 50% off or 25% off, depending on how quickly you snap them up (The prices will rise over time). Here's my Amazon author link for easy reference.

This will be my last post on the book sale. Tune in next weekend when we return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Now lowering the pre-order price on "Knights in White Bondage"

I have it on good authority that $0.99 is a better price point than $1.99, so I've just made the switch on Amazon. It's my understanding that if you pre-ordered it at $1.99, you'll only be charged $0.99 when the book comes out and you are charged. But in the meantime, if you plan to pre-order but haven't gotten around to it yet, give Amazon a few hours to put the new lower price on the ebook's page.

Finally, remember that when the book goes live on November 28, it will sell for $2.99.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"Knights in White Bondage" now available at a pre-order discount

Below is the short version. Refer to the previous post for the longer version.

From now on I'll be publishing my ebooks exclusively through Kindle and giving my blog readers discounts by allowing them to pre-order for a reduced price.

Knights in White Bondage will go live as a solo piece on November 28 at the usual price of $2.99. But you can go ahead and pre-order it for $1.99 by clicking the link above. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A new e-book and new e-book discounts!

Where do I begin?

First, you might remember that I posted my latest ebook, "Knights in White Bondage," in the Secret Lives anthology. At the time I was under the impression that I couldn't publish the story independently for six months, but I recently found out that's not the case. The 60-day stipulation was in an early version of the contract I agreed to, but it got taken out in a later version. Now some of the other authors are publishing their stories solo. I'm about to do  the same, and please allow me to brag for a moment about this cover I created. ;-) When I think about my pitiful early efforts at creating my own ebook covers, I feel very proud of how far I've come. I think this one might be my best.

Now, I know a lot of you have probably bought Secret Lives and don't need another copy of "Knights in White Bondage." That's fine, but keep reading because I've found two great new ways to offer discounts on my other ebooks, including those I've already published.

Here's the plan.

1.  Almost all my books* will be available at deep discounts during Cyber Monday (December 1) and the two days afterwards. They'll be 50% off for about a day and a half, then 25% off for about another day and a half. So if you've been waiting to buy something (except the two asterisked titles below), that will be your best time to do it.

2. I'm abandoning Smashwords entirely because it's not generating any sales and I've found another system that works just as well for thanking my blog readers. Each time I publish something from now on, I'll set up a pre-order on Amazon and offer you reduced prices during the pre-order period. I'll always announce those on on my blog, including "Knights in White Bondage." It won't go on sale until Black Friday (a.k.a. the day after Thanksgiving and the biggest shopping day of the year in the US), which falls on November 28 this year. If you pre-order it you'll get the ebook for $1.99, but on November 28, the price goes up to the usual $2.99. Now again, I realize a lot of you have already purchased "Knights" as part of the Secret Lives anthology, and I'm not expecting you to purchase it twice. Just keep this information in mind for future books. And if you do want to publish "Knights" as a separate ebook, you'll get the link here as soon as Amazon gives it to me. Usually it takes them about a day. I'll make a separate post when I get it.

Happy Holidays, whatever you're celebrating soon. :-)

*excluding "Knights in White Bondage" completely, and excluding "What Do You Give the Alien Who Has Everything" unless you buy it through (in both cases because Kindle won't let me change book prices more than once per 30 days per market).

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Let me start with a context-free quote. Context wouldn't help much in this case, anyway:

(c) Zdzisław Beksiński
The tube of flesh is quite prophetic. The tube of flesh, the umbilical, is inserted at the base of the neck, although sometimes inserted by mistake toward the top of the head, which can result in unexpected visions. The umbilical feeds into the central nervous system. The nerves of the familiar's umbilical wind around the nerves in the person's neck. Above the recipient, the manta ray, the familiar, rises and grows full with the knowledge of the host. It makes itself larger. It elongates. The subject goes into shock, convulses, and becomes limp. Motor control passes over to the familiar, creating a moving yet utilitarian symbiosis. The neck becomes numb. A tingling forms on the tongue, and taste of lime. There is no release from this. There should be no release from this. Broken out from their slumber, hundreds are initiated at a time, the tubes glistening and churling in the elision of the steam, the continual need. Thus fitted, all go forth in their splendid ranks. The eye of the City opens and continues to open, wider and wider, until the eye is the world. 

That's a quote from a short story called "Three Days in a Border Town," by Jeff VanderMeer. Even after reading the whole story for myself, I'm not completely sure how much mind control the familiars exert over the people they're attached to, but clearly there's some. And doesn't it make you delightfully squirmy? You can read the full story online for free; I'll give you the link at the bottom of this post. But for now, let's move on.

It's been about two months since I finished VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy (I blogged about the first two books here and here). I've been dying to tell you what I thought about the conclusion, but other topics came first. Now it's time to finish what I - or, rather, VanderMeer - started. The first and second books in the series contained lots of mind control, seemingly via hypnosis, although I noted that the levels of control were too high to be caused by real-world hypnosis. Well, I was right. The character known as "the Voice" in Book 2 is a megalomaniac who loves thinking up new and better ways to warp people's minds. Here's a quote from Acceptance. I've taken out the Voice's real name and gender pronouns as well as a few other spoilery details:

Light hypnotic suggestion, conditioning that's more about Area X survival than any of the Voice's dubious "value adds," his/her claims to have found a way around the need, on some level, for the subject to want to perform the suggested action - "a kind of trickery and substitution." The stages you've seen described are identification, indoctrination, reinforcement, and deployment, but _____ has seen other documents that borrow the semiotic of the supernatural: "manifestation, infestation, oppression, and possession."

Most of the Voice's attention has concreted around _____, a volunteer with radicalized ideas about the value of free will. You wonder if the Voice prefers it when there's more or less resistance.

Then there's this quote:

They implant in the brain of _____ what the Voice calls "a pearl of surveillance and recall." Some tiny subset of the silver egg that is Central, passing first through the Voice's deforming grip. They make a man not himself, and you along with it to keep your job, to stay close to what is important to you.

Now, I have to admit that mind control doesn't play as big as role in Acceptance as I expected. Most of the MC takes place in Book 2, Authority. And I know my readers; MC is what you come here to read about. Still, there's so much else worth reading in the Southern Reach trilogy that I recommend it to you anyway just because it's fantastic. It's like Lovecraft on LSD with a side helping of three-dimensional characters and hope. Again I'm being careful to avoid spoilers, but if you've read the first two books and haven't decided whether to pick up the conclusion, here's some of what you'll learn: the ultimate fates of the biologist and her husband, what the hell the psychologist from Annihilation was up to all this time, what happened to the lighthouse keeper, why Whitby is such a basket case, and whether or not Control ever gains control of himself. You also mostly...probably...learn what caused Area X, although the details are open to debate. And I did debate them at length in a Goodreads thread on the series until I felt satisfied with my conclusions (even if not everyone agreed with me). If you've read the whole series, and/or if you don't mind being spoiled to hell and back, here's the thread. Feel free to hop in with your own thoughts.

Now back to VanderMeer in general. The guy clearly has an interest in MC; different forms of it show up in many of his stories, although not in fetishy ways. He uses it for the sake of horror, and believe me, that man knows how to do horror. The quote at the top of this post comes from VanderMeer's short story collection The Third Bear; and the title story is absolutely, no-question-about-it, unrelentingly horrific. So is "Predecessor." But "Three Days in a Border Town" is more like Mad Max with aliens, "Shark God vs. Octopus God" is just plain funny, and "Errata" is - oh God, just read it for yourself. I keep going on about VanderMeer because the more I read his stuff, the more I love it. I think a lot of you will, too; and several stories from The Third Bear are free online. You can find links to them all in this one helpful review. Just do yourself a favor and start with Errata. It's a standalone story with everything that's freaky and wonderful about Vandermeer in one tidy little package. Check it out and let me know what you think of it.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Tipping Point

Over the last few weeks I've read some buzz in the EMC community about a brainwashing scene in "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." I saw a few animated gifs of the scene, and they were exciting enough to make me want more. Sadly, I wasn't able to find any clips on YouTube. So there I was, eating my heart out, imagining all the other MC fans out there, enjoying the hell out of a great scene I couldn't see.

Then, at last, I managed to see it. What a letdown. Those animated gifs were very nearly all there was to Agent 33's brainwashing. We never saw her actually succumb; she just went from fighting in one scene to happily brainwashed in the next.

Now, I do understand. I've never seen the show, but I've read enough to know Agent 33 was a throwaway character. The only purpose of her brainwashing was to make us worry that the same thing could happen to a more important character who was undercover with Hydra. Viewed that way, Agent 33's scenes did just what was needed...but they did almost nothing for my fetish.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the tipping point in good induction scenes: the point where a strong, resistant character first starts to lose the battle. Sometimes it happens slowly, sometimes quickly. But there's always that one moment where the character hangs balanced between fighting to stay free and surrendering to the inevitable, and then they lose their balance. Maybe they're too tired to fight any longer. Maybe they realize fighting is pointless. Maybe they get tricked. Maybe their horniness gets the best of them. Or maybe - and I find this scenario particularly exciting - they were tempted to give in all along, for whatever reason, and they surrender half-willingly, knowing no one else will ever know they gave in on purpose. But however it happens, that tipping point makes or breaks a brainwashing scene for me - and probably for a lot of other MC fetishists.

But we didn't get to see Agent 33's tipping point. I've arranged these images to suggest what it might have looked like, but that's not how it played out onscreen. We saw her start to weaken, but we never saw her jaw sag or her eyes roll up in her head or her mouth start to chant mantras about compliance. Just think about how much hotter her fate could have been, if her character mattered. Think about the anguish viewers would have experienced if they'd seen a character they loved fall to the enemy...fall deliciously slowly to the enemy. With no one around to break their fall.

Then again, if Agent 33 mattered, someone would have been there to break her fall, just in the nick of time. Dammit.