Website relaunch

March 28, 2015

In the next few days or weeks, expect to see some changes here. The website refresh might break some URLs (but we’ll try not to!) so consider yourself warned. If you see an error message, try going to the root of the site and navigating from there. And please email me with any error messages, even minor ones.



Whirlwind daze

March 18, 2015

So, day 1 as a free listing. The book spent a chunk the day in the #1 best seller position for short (= 30 minute) reads in Science Fiction and Fantasy. It’s also done well on the lists for Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Cyberpunk, and (oddly to me) Literature and Fiction. This is very good. In particular, it makes it more likely that the algorithms will grab hold of it and keep it visible to more readers. I’m immensely thankful for all the signal boosts and thanks I’ve received.

The more that people respond to this book, the more comfortable I feel about suggesting it to new audiences. I hope to gain a foothold inside tech companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and so on. If you fall in this group, can you post a pointer to the company internal social network?

I’m still looking for reviews. On one hand, I’m surprised that a book can hit #1 like this without a huge slate of reviews. Are reviews becoming less important? Too heavily gamed? On the other hand, I’d really like to rack up some reviews. :)

Thanks, and stay tuned. More soon. List subscribers get first (and free) dibs.


Free at last

March 17, 2015

Good morning. A quick note to observe that Ritchie Boss: Private Investigator Manager, my award-winning, Creative Commons-licensed, fiction chapter from an academic textbook is now on the free lists at Amazon. The best thing you could do to help is to write an honest review.

There’s lots more coming soon, and those subscribed to the Geeks mailing list hear about it first. Go get it!


Promotion update

March 14, 2015

My goal is to be very open in my selfpub marketing approaches here, including what works and what doesn’t.

My immediate strategy is to gather my tribe in an email list. (Join here). I’m launching two short story titles, one the sequel of the other, one permafree and one paid, ideally landing both on respective top 100 lists. I’m experimenting with the CTA at the back of each book to see what works. If you join the list, you’ll get early access to these, as well as opportunities to get free review copies in exchange for honest reviews.

Here’s an example of what didn’t work. I was at FOGcon recently, actively blogging the sessions. I was getting lots of engagement–people were favoriting and retweeting and responding. At a break in the sessions, I made this tweet:

#announcement if you like my tweet coverage of #FOGcon, we’re probably in the same tribe. More from me here: #geeks

That’s a pretty good offer. If you like X, you’ll also like X++ for free. It provides value, and avoids the slimy feeling of pushy-car-salesman marketing. And it got exactly zero traction.

Am I being too nice?

The book that will eventually be free is up now: Ritchie Boss: Private Investigator Manager, but it doesn’t yet show as free on Amazon, though as a Creative Commons licensed story, you can already find it free on the web, including on my site, as on Apple, Nook, and Kobo.

This story is set six decades in the future, where computers run everything–except management. So the protagonist is a Private Investigator Manager working with a small army of sentient computer programs. It’s a neat premise, and the story itself I feel good about because of it’s publication history (which you can read about in the Forward of the book).

So with readers’ best interest in mind, I’m asking folks not to purchase it yet–save your $0.99 and get it when it’s free–but to please post reviews, which are immensely helpful to readers and authors alike.

And then sign up. Did I mention that joining the list gets you access to an additional story as well as real-world tips on avoiding techrage?


I now host an email list

February 22, 2015

If you’re reading this, you are probably a good fit for my email list, “Geeks”. On the list, I get more personal (and more geeky) than on the blog. I will recommend various geeky books and products, a few of which are even from me. :)

Come with on a journey into self-publishing and all-consuming geekery. If you’re not on the list, you’ve already missed some good stuff. Sign up here.


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Why I don’t Facebook

January 29, 2015

While I do participate in social media where it makes sense, I do not use Facebook. At all. In the unlikely event you run across someone there claiming to be me, it’s fake.

Why? you ask…

  • Privacy. Facebook top brass in particular have repeatedly demonstrated disdain for the very concept of privacy. With exceptions.
  • Ethics. I utterly disagree with their approach to gatekeeping my contributions to their ecosystem. See this explanation for a humorous take on it. See here and here for more serious ethical issues.
  • Time. I have nothing against old classmates and girlfriends, but there’s only so many hours in a day.
  • Bad associations. There’s plenty of topics and people on social media that I don’t need in my life. I find Facebook in particular to be full of these.
  • Value. In any free service, you-the-consumer are actually the product being sold. Facebook in particular has demonstrated disdain for its users on an unprecedented scale. I’m not seeing the part where participating is beneficial in any way.
  • Adult supervision. I do not trust Facebook to make any decision to my benefit. Even a for-profit company can engage in an ethical sort of business, where the company and the consumer both thank each other at the end of a transaction.
  • Schadenfreude. I receive a little pulse of joy every time a headline comes across describing the most recent assault of Facebook against its users. Never having signed up is a gift that keeps on giving.

Herein I address any FAQs that arise

Q: You really don’t use Facebook at all?

A: Correct. It is actually blocked from my computer; even ‘like’ buttons on other sites don’t show up.

Q: Isn’t Facebook an integral part of an author’s marketing platform?

A: Nope. In fact, rejection of Facebook can be a component of an author’s branding.

Q: Do you reject all social media?

A: Nope. I go on a case-by-case basis, and encourage others to do the same.

Q: Do you hate Facebook?

A: No. Well, maybe a little.

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The coming bugpocalypse

January 26, 2015

It’s a common trope in SF for a society to get too reliant on technology (especially sexy alien technology) and then get into trouble when it’s taken away. In fact this seems to be a key tactic of sexy aliens. But there’s no need to invoke aliens for what is a real problem.

Any use of technology comes with it a “disaster recovery” (or DR as they say in the business) plan. If you regularly drive a car to work, what would you do if one morning it doesn’t start? Depending on your circumstances you might ask your spouse or roommate for a ride, seek public transport, or if you have a flexible work arrangement, work from home that day. Sometimes a DR plan is implicit, unstated. Un-thought-about until it’s too late.

As technology marches on even the fallback plans become vulnerable. If your work laptop crashes, how do you file the ticket to get it repaired? If your work network goes down, and the entire phone system is built on top of the network, how do you even let someone know there’s a problem? On the broken internet, nobody can hear you scream.

It’s terrifying to think about a scenario where a disastrous bug sweeps across the internet, and the folks who would normally fix it get caught up in the wash of system failures. Or the necessary fix uncovers an even more serious bug. Rinse and repeat. Automation adds layers between people and technology, until no one person fully understands what’s going on. That’s a recipe for some conflict. Hence this story I am working on. Stay tuned for details.

P.S. I’m pondering setting up a mailing list for fans & first readers, leading up to a product launch. If you’re interested, drop me a line.



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Best reads of 2014

January 14, 2015

Playing with the statistics on Goodreads. Apparently I read 115 books in 2014, 14 of which I rated as 5-star. Fourteen books that changed my life and/or I will definitely be re-reading at some point.

I’m working on formulating some more stats based on the data. Goodreads doesn’t do much in the way of breaking out the data for you.

But of the 14, exactly half were non-fiction. The rest were:

  • A Treasure of Modern American Poetry
  • The Hobbit (already a re-read)
  • Red Plenty
  • The Martian
  • Annihilation
  • Synchrotronic: Thirteen Tales of Time Travel
  • Labrynth: Selected Stories & Other Writings (Jorges Luis Borges)

For the curious, the nonfiction entries were:

  • To Mock a Mockingbird
  • Writing the Other
  • The Personal MBA
  • The Beginning of Infinity
  • The First 20 Minutes
  • Functional Programming in Scala
  • Voice and the Alexander Technique

I need to break out some more powerful tools (and more critically, more time) to generate stats on the rest.


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The worst security breach of 2014

January 1, 2015

Here’s a prediction. The worst security breach of 2014 isn’t something you’ve heard about. Yet. I just got word that Chick-fil-a is investigating a potential credit card breach that goes back to 2013. Yikes.

‘So, Lone Star, now you see that security crackers will always triumph because people are dumb.’

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Top Technology Failures of 2014

December 31, 2014

Difficult to rank, as there were so many. Here’s one attempt, focused more on innovation failures. Personally, that seems a bit harsh. Holding innovation to a predictable timeline is usually a bad bet.

More serious issues for day-to-day life come from outright failures, like countless data breaches, widespread security flaws, and other things that undermine confidence in shiny things. But that’s why we have fiction, right?


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