Equal Rights for Authors!

There are a lot of snobs in the world.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had this thought, but it hit me today particularly strong after reading one person who “disregards friend reviews” and a blog that “WILL NOT REVIEW SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS.”

I had two thoughts. The first was “I consider all my reviewers friends,” and “CATCH UP WITH THE REAL WORLD.” It is the latter that I wish to discuss.

Every time the world wants to move forward there are those who try to hold it back. Clearly indie publishing is catching on. People are becoming successful at it, and the traditional market is beginning to panic. Trying to degrade the professional, belittle it, or disregard it is like trying to oppose the development of the horseless carriage, or the printing press.

Sometimes these people are worried about competition. Worried that their job might become obsolete. Lots of jobs become obsolete as a result of progress; deal with it! But some people are simply snobs. They think that only “traditionally” published books are worth their time, money, or manners.

Look me in the eye and tell me you’ve never read a traditionally published book and then wished you had those three hours of your life back.

You can’t. We’ve all read bad books. They’ve been around for as long as fiction has been invented. There are always really sorry authors out there who somehow, magically, get published. And there are really, really brilliant authors who spend years, tens of years, before someone finally recognizes their work.

What does this mean? The publishing industry is not a standard of quality.

And yet everyone treats it like it is. “Traditional” is better than “Self-published.” Sounds like racism to me. Like, somehow, self-published authors aren’t real writers. Like we’re an inferior class. You’re “professional” and we’re “amateurs.” Downright un-American!

So, published authors, stop looking down on your Indie cousins. They are the future. And they may be small and annoying now, but you’d better watch out. And stop saying “self-published” like it’s a disease, or an inferior race. Give them some respect. In the long run you don’t stand a chance.

And readers? Stop being a snob, judging on race and social status. Judge a book by its cover, if you must, but not by it’s publishing history! Judge a book by its quality and content. Give it a fair hearing. Stop discriminating against the independently published author! This is a free country, and we demand our rights!

We’re all authors too!

Rap Trade-off

I don’t listen to rap, really. I only know of it through reputation. And then last night I had a very strange experience when this song came up as a youtube commercial:

And thought it was very, very strange. In a sort of good, unique way. After analyzation I realized that a large part of why I liked it was the lyrics, and how well they fit with the rhythm. I showed it to my best friend, who told me it wasn’t actually that great…. But the metre of the lyrics match the rhythm of the song, which I can appreciate as a poet who fusses with metre. And there are some clever, unique metaphors in there. The language is fresh and original.

She then showed me this song, as an example of Christian rap she enjoyed, altough admitting that it was even less of a rap song and more of a spoken word. (You’ve probably seen this one: the artist did another video “Why I love Jesus and Not Religion” which went viral a few months ago. Like…. everyone saw that video.)

So then I brought up the other rap song I know and like: Handlebars by Flobots. I’m a bit obsessed with that song. It’s strange… but mostly I love the lyrics. Like “He’s Coming Back” it has a musical chorus, and lots of original, catchy lyrics. Seriously listen to this one.

My friend explained to me that it’s about human nature… which makes sense. At first glimpse it appears to be political, but without an agenda. And isn’t politics essentially a reflection of human nature? She also told me it wasn’t rap, it was hip-hop. And as an example showed me a song by none other than Owl City!

And so there you have it. My complete knowledge of rap music. But I’m going to leave you with just one more: the first rap song I ever heard. It falls into an extremely strange category: epic wrap! Fight, by Future World Music. Enjoy!

What is Genre?

I have been in so many arguments about genre: what it is, how to define it, what books are which is, it important, etc ad naseum.

I have an explanation to end all arguments. (Except the ones from the people who disagree with me.) Genre is a big comlicated word used to define two completely different elements. Those elements are (drumroll please): Plot and Setting.

Setting: Where is your novel set? Using what genre conventions?

Plot: What traditional genre sequence does your novel follow?

So, technically, your novel should have two genres. Here I’ve borrowed a list from Wikipedia and broken them down:

Action

An action novel is a plot. Traditionally the genre refers to a contemporary setting, but everyone writes action packed novels. Right?

Adventure

Again, a plot.  From Wikipedia: “An adventure story is about a protagonist who journeys to epic or distant places to accomplish something.”

Comedy

A plot. A comedy is anything that’s written with intent to amuse, regardless of who is in it, where, why, or how.

Fantasy

A setting! What makes a novel fantasy? The inclusion of common elements recognizable as fantastical in nature: IE, not occurring in the real universe. This includes fictional countries, mythical creatures, and magic. You can write any sort of plot in this setting, but if you have a dragon it’s probably fantasy.

Historical

Set in the past. Plain as nails. History is a setting.

Horror

Horror is a plot genre.  Like comedy, it refers to a story with intent to terrify, or horrify. You can have many different settings for horror films, and sometimes even crossover with a different plot genre. So I suppose horror is really more of an “atmosphere” but for simplicities sake we’ll just class it as a plot.

Mystery

You can guess this one! That’s right, it’s a plot genre. You can have historical mysteries, fantasy mysteries… I won’t give away the rest of the list.

Romance

Romance is a plot. Often crossed over with other plots (we’ll get to that in a second) it can be set in any genre, and is, on a regular basis.

Science Fiction

Science Fiction is the most argued about genre in the universe, and when you get into sub-genres it gets even worse. But Scifi si most like Fantasy, and it’s a setting. Scifi is a story that includes aliens, space travel, robots, laser guns, etc. You can have any plot set among those elements. Bonus points if the elements are the plot, as so many argue.

Thriller

Thriller is a plot genre! When Thriller meets Scifi is when everyone starts bickering the hardest, but ultimately a thriller novel can be set anywhere.

So there you have it! Obviously that’s a basic list, but it gives you the overview. So which genre is your novel/story?

It’s like playing rock/paper/scissors. It’s a trump game. Let’s take a look at the rules.

Suppose you have a story that’s Fantasy Adventure. Which genre should you classify it under? Well, fantasy typically implies adventure, so just go with the setting.

Romance trumps all genre. If you wrote a romance, it’s a romance. Sub-categorize the setting. If you didn’t write a romance then leave that genre off. If you don’t know if it counts as a “Romance” then it’s not a romance. If you’re writing romance novels then you’ll know. That’s a whole other article.

What about mystery? Like romance, mystery tends to trump setting. Ditto to horror and thriller.

In the case of Science Fiction… think carefully. What is your plot about? Is it a political thriller involving a scientist working on a rocket for NASA? Then it’s most likely not scifi. It’s a political thriller. Is your book a political thriller set on a distant planet that’s being threatened with elimination from the galaxy? Then it’s Science Fiction.

When picking whether or not to go with setting or plot ask yourself which question: which is more central to the story? Which one is a bigger selling point? Which one could you change and still have the same novel? (Star Wars with a different plot would still be Star Wars. The Patriot with a different setting would still be The Patriot. Star Wars with a different setting would be something else entirely.)

When writing my supervillain series I toyed with genres for a long time. Superhero fiction is commonly considered a sub-genre of science fiction, due to the usage of other planets, races, and outlandish technology and science. It is also considered Action and Adventure, because that’s what comic books are. And to top off the confusion, supervillains is comedy.

How did I choose between scifi and adventure? Well, at it’s core Supervillains is about a policeman and a reporter runnign around in contemporary London chasing down bad guys, solving mysteries, and helping people. There is very little in the setting (other than Supervillains) to make it a science fiction genre, while the entire plot screams Adventure. Adventure also appeals to a wide group of people, while Science Fiction targets Scifi people specifically. And Supervillains is nothing if not broad in scope.

So do a similar analysis on your story and see whether the setting or plot is more integral to your genre. And the next time you feel a genre war coming on remember that there are two correct answers to any question.

How Disney Ruined Fairytales

Before we get started on this fairly predictably Disney-hate rant let me distract you with this Youtube video of me singing and playing guitar. It’s a song I wrote called “Let me be your sidekick” and I’m rather proud of it, so go and leave a comment telling me that you think I show great promise as a songwriter.

Thank you. That helped my self-esteem immensely.

So, as you know, there are original versions of fairy tales, and then there are adaptions. I should certainly hope you know that our modern day adaptions are much more child-friendly then the originals.

Example 1: Red Riding Hood is not saved in the nick of time. She is swallowed by the wolf, and then cut out of his stomach.

If you didn’t know that then you need to stop watching TV and start reading actual, physical books. Or even browsing the internet. It’s all out there.

But there’s a more subtle subversion going on; something many of your don’t realize because these are the versions of common fairytales you grew up on. I’m afraid I’m going to burst some long-held beliefs, and it may cause some pain. Don’t worry, you’ll be a better person afterwards.

1. There are no talking kitchen utensils in Beauty and the Beast.

The concept of anthropomorphic objects surrounding the beast in his lair has so permeated our culture that people do it without realizing that they’re copying Disney. Nearly every version of this classic fairytale that doesn’t pre-date the classic animated film involves some kind of talking thing–both the innovative and original stories, and the blatant Disney ripoffs.

2. The Little Mermaid Dies

There is no happy ending, there is no song and dance, there are no cute fish to jump around and sing, there are no second chances, there is no evil plot by the witch–The Little Mermaid takes her chance, and loses on it, and dies. There is no Little Mermaid II; there is no return to the sea.

(This goes for the Hunchback of Notre Dame as well, even though it’s not a fairytale. They stuck really close to the book, only diverging at the end so everyone could be happy. But it’s Victor Hugo, people. No happiness allowed. Didn’t you watch Les Miserable?)

3. Sleeping Beauty’s Name is Not Aurora.

I don’t get this. It’s fine for one adaptation of Sleeping Beauty to name the heroine after a popular appellation for dawn, but everyone does it. Everyone. Her name is actually Briar Rose. Yes, including the briar part. How did we get from that to dawn, and why does everybody copy it?

Also, she sleeps for a hundred years and never meets the prince before he awakens, but whatever.

4. There is No Magic Carpet in Aladdin’s Lamp

And he spies on the princess while she’s bathing, and her father gives her to him in marriage because he’s rich, and her name is Badroulbadour (which I had to look up to spell but used to have memorized–don’t ask) and there’s none of this three wish business, and it’s not even a fairy tale! It’s from a collection of stories called A Thousand and One Nights assembled by a Frenchman and it’s full of violence and infidelity and innuendo and Islam. But mostly there is no flying carpet. Anywhere. Well, okay, there’s one in one of the 1,001 and stories but that’s still 1,000 cases of no carpet. And there’s one in “The Thief of Baghdad.” Which is probably a closer source material for the Disney movie then the story it supposedly portrays. But it’s still not a fairytale.

April Fools Resolutions

I am pregnant! I’m not pregnant
We’re expecting our first child.
I’m married! I’m engaged
We’re separated for a while.

I’ve abandoned my religion!
I’ve abandoned my belief!
I’ve become a mortician!
I’ve become a professional thief!

I’ve gone and got a piercing!
I’ve gone and cut my hair!
I’ve changed my sexual orientation
I’ve decided what to wear!

I’ve forever left the internet
I’ve become a hermit true.
This will be the last you see of me,
And the last I see of you.

Even Disney joins the game,
But none of it is true.
Perhaps I should stop talking
Or you wont’ believe me too!

I am changing my career;
I am moving out of state.
I’m developing new software that makes
Google out of date.

I met the president today;
The strangest tale to tell
He was in my town just on a whim.
Big Ben is up for sale.

The Supervillain outbreak has begun,
Oh wait, that one is true…
My company concluded a big deal
Ha ha! The fool is you!

Tomorrow the world will be safe again,
Just one more thing to say.
The only thing I’m truly abandoning
Is Facebook for the day.

Neil Gaiman Tweeted me!

My personal life isn’t my usual subject matte on this blog, but I have a story that only geeks can appreciate and there are none in my family!

To begin with I have to make sure you’re aware of the Nanowrimo Musical. To go back even further I would have to tell you about the “Wrimo Individual Guy” but then I’d never get this post written. Which means I’d die from pent up excitement. Just follow the handy links I’ll dump along the way and you’ll be okay.

The Nanowrimo Musical is a musical about Nanowrimo. My favourite song from the whole musical is “Neil Gaiman Tweeted Me.” I appreciate this song for many, many reasons, most because of twitter. I have twitter; so I understands retweets. I follow Neil Gaiman, so I know he retweets a lot of people. I’m a fan of Neil Gaiman, so I understand the elation that would come with being retweeted by him.

Watch the song.

Last night I went to bed and couldn’t sleep. (I realized later that’s because I was drinking caffeine up until bedtime in an effort to help my stalled writing. The only effect caffeine has on me is to prevent me from sleeping if I have it too late: I was drinking it for the soothing effects of the tea it was in.) And while I was laying there unable to sleep the song “Neil Gaiman Tweeted Me” starts running through my head. Not the whole song… just that line. It starts to get repetitive.

To stave off the song I start thinking about the guy who wrote it, and how he’s a really cool guy. He wrote a musical that everyone loves, he does Nano, which is automatically cool, he’s a singer-songerwriter who sings really nerdy stuff, he writes comics, and Neil Gaiman retweeted him. But he’s not just cool… the song attests to the fact that he reacts to cool things just the way a real person should. He’s not aloof to the wonders of getting a morsel of attention from a famous person.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, in the end,) this train of thought did nothing to help me sleep. I got up, listened to the song, and sent “Rick” a tweet summing up my thoughts.

I do strange things at night when I can’t sleep. Things I usually regret later. As I wrote that tweet I had a vague feeling that I would probably wake up in the morning to a sinking feeling that I’m not cool enough to talk to people that cool. Nothing of the sort happened. Encouraged by Errol’s reply I kept writing random tweets. About the musical. About the song. Because it was late at night and I do stuff without inhibitions that late. Finally I decided I had better stop before I did something I really regretted and I went to bed.

I had 64 twitter notifications: that’s normal. I decided not to read them all because my internet is lousy lately, and just skipped over to the notifications to find any remnants of the previous night’s conversation. There were seven favourites and ten retweets of this tweet I made:

You can see in that image the cause of this sudden surge of popularity. But it took me a bit longer to figure out. My thoughts were actually: “Huh, that’s odd. I wonder what set that off.” But Errol catches those sorts of things and there was a handy tweet from him telling me. (And I didn’t believe it at first. I had to go check Neil Gaiman’s feed myself.)

That’s what happens when I do things late at night when I can’t sleep. Most mornings I wake up feeling like an idiot, but some mornings…. Errol even made a comic about it! I mean, look! It’s me! In a comic!

Excuse me now, while I go sing my own rendition of the song.

Don’t Call Me Stupid!

In my last post I said I would “leave my fiery retort” on Asimov’s forward to “Scientists Confront Velikovsky.” The reason for this is that said retort is an entire post in and of itself. This post. I will try to stick to a straight path, but will most likely wander where the wind blows. Please bear with me, and keep some fire-fighting foam on hand just in case.

Towards the end of “Worlds in Collision” Velikovsky devotes an entire chapter to the discussion of ancient records of astronomy and calenders. He cites example after example after example of civilizations observing a 360 day year, consisting of twelve 30 day months. He says that until now everyone had just assumed that ancient astronomers were terrible at their jobs, their calenders were wrong, and they were constantly making adjustments and getting their heads cut off, etc. But, according to Velikovsky, it isn’t all that hard to figure out that 5 and 1/4 days are missing from  your year. It doesn’t take a skilled royal astronomer; any farmer would notice within about twenty years, when it began snowing in July and the equinoxes were no long observed on the proper date.

Give them some credit! Velikovsky’s theory is that the year was actually 360 days long and that the astronomers were very good at their jobs. In fact, all the ancient peoples observed the sky rigorously to make sure it didn’t go haywire again. On more than one occasion they may have had to recalculate the year and the seasons and the lunar phases.

Carl Sagan attacks this theory with equal vigor, devoting a large section of his paper to refuting it. Ancient astronomers, he says, would have hated working with fractions. So they created a 360 day year to make the math easier and just readjusted it as needed. Or new astronomers readjusted it after the old astronomers were beheaded for being so wrong. Frankly; isn’t it worth your head to just work with fractions? That makes them out to be incredibly lazy and generally apathetic about their job. Maybe that’s how Sagan would have executed the position, but I doubt everyone around the world would make the same mistake! Unless, as Sagan suggests, the ancient people were stupid.

Both Asimov and Goldsmith, in the introduction and forward respectively, seem to think that the best way to get Velikovsky’s supporters to shut up and go home is to insult their intelligence and accuse them of fanaticism.

“He is an interesting writer. It is fun to read his books. Although he doesn’t lure me into accepting his views I can well see where those less knowledgeable {…} would succumb.” – Asimov; “The Role of the Heretic.”

“Though one could be sure from the start that nothing scientists could say would in the least move the Velikovskians, and that no amount of mere logic would shake their faith…” – Asimov; “The Role of the Heretic.”

If Sagan and Asimov are to be taken at their word then the entire world, from ancient times into the present, is peopled with a subj-intelligent race, and that the only beings capable of understanding anything more advanced then work, food, and sleep, are the elite scientists to whom is entrusted the mysteries of the universe. No one knows how these scientists came into being, since apparently two thousand years ago there was no such thing.

The Velikovsky affair aside, this tends to be the universal attitude of scientists towards those not initiated into the order. They pride themselves on their ability to write in a language that many people cannot understand, or have difficulty deciphering. Those of us who are hobbyists, or who support new and unorthodox theories are laughed at and ridiculed and dismissed out of hand. Teaching yourself is out of the question. Searching for knowledge without going through the proper initiation is forbidden.

Even worse is the attitude adopted towards ancient builders and scientists. Ancient records and observations that don’t make sense are dismissed as superstitious, and those that conflict with what we know as incompetence. Structures and monuments are labeled as ‘inexplicable” because we all know that the ancients were incapable of building any such thing! And yet evidence continues to mount that far from being stupid our ancestors possessed equal, if not superior, intelligence and were on the brink of very similar technological discoveries! Discoveries such as the Antikythera Device indicate that we aren’t learning science for the first time; we’re relearning it. Sagan quips about the ancients being unable to make the difficult astronomical calculations Velikovsky attributes to them because they would have needed integral calculus to do so. But what if the knowledge existed and has merely been lost?

In conclusion; the ancients were not sub-intelligent and neither am I. Not having gone to university does not affect our ability to comprehend ideas like an infinite universe, or comets striking the earth. The superiority complex of the established scientific elite is just that: a superiority complex. There is no reason why you or I or someone who lived four thousand years ago, cannot discern the mysteries of the universe. And who’s to say we won’t?

In Defense of Velikovsky

In order to be properly educated on any controversy it is necessary to view the subject from both angles. In order to consider oneself properly read up on the Velikovsky affair “Worlds in Collision” alone will not suffice. The ideas put forth by Velikovsky are radical and ground-breaking, and have been the subject of controversy since his first book was published in 1950. There have been many, many books written about his theories, about himself, and about the controversy itself. There are books defending his views, books attacking them, and books attacking those who attack him. Many of these books bear his name in the title. “The Velikovsky Affair,” “The Velikovsky Controversy,” “Velikovsky Reconsidered,” etc.

In 1974, almost a quarter of a century after “Worlds in Collision” was first published, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) held a symposium on the subject of Velikovsky’s views. Five speakers were invited in addition to the man himself, foremost among them was the reknown cosmologist and astronomer Carl Sagan. After the symposium a book was published containing the papers on which the four opposing speeches were based. This is the book I’m about to talk about: “Scientists Confront Velikovsky.” (Among the many other publications defending Velikovsky against the ‘conclusions’ of these scientists there is a book entitled: “Scientists Confront Scientists who Confront Velikovsky.”) Velikovsky’s paper isn’t included due to missing the deadline for publication. It appears in print elsewhere and I have sadly not had a chance to read it yet.

“Scientists Confront Velikovsky” is out of print and very hard to obtain. I first heard about it when I stumbled across a quote in another book from the forward; a forward by reknowned science fiction author Isaac Asimov. “The Role of the Heretic.” There is no ebook version of the publication, and there is no preview; no way to read just the foreword. Eventually I was able to get the book through interlibrary loan.

I am trying to be fair to the scientists scorn of Velikovsky’s lack of high terminology. Another quarter of a century has passed since they made their opinions known to the world, and much of the evidence that we have now to support recent catastrophism was lacking then. Much of what we have today we owe to recent work done by Walt Thornhill in the field of plasma physics. And yet, it seems to me, that if they had been gentler, more open and understanding, more welcoming of new ideas; if scientists put half the effort into seeing if it was possible, rather than semi-proving that it was now, then we would have had a more fair view of the issue. You will never prove anything is true by hunting down evidence that it’s not.

Isaac Asimov, in his forward, essentially states that if science is popular, then it’s wrong. He upholds that Velikovsky is popular because ordinary people can understand him, and that ordinary people understand him because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. If he did know what he was talking about then “Worlds in Collision” wouldn’t be understood by most ordinary human beings, since it would be a proper scientific text. Then it could be dealt with by the scientific community in their own way and none of the rest of us would have ever even known what was going on.

I’ll leave my fiery retort for a moment to continue on to Donald Goldsmith’s Introduction. Condescending fails to sum up his attitude towards Velikovsky, the symopisum, Velikovsky’s supporters, and the reporters who write about science. He gently ridicules any suggestion that the symposium was “Velikovsky vs Sagan” but one has only to read Sagan’s paper (and compare its length to the other four!) to see how accurate that actually is! Secondly, as the organizer of the panel speakers, he is responsible for who was invited. There was Velikovsky himself, of course, and then four people against him. And then Goldsmith goes on to point out how they had trouble even finding a scientist sympathetic to Velikovsky’s views to help present the other side! Talk about unbalanced. Four against two: one of those the author and the other merely “sympathetic.”

And then there’s Carl Sagan. Immensely popular as a result of his show “Cosmos” which ran on PBS for many, many years. It’s not a children’s show, and yet Sagan treats his viewers gently, condescendingly. Let the great genius show you the marvels of a universe you can never comprehend. He even devoted five minutes of his show to Velikovskianism that demonstrates my point quite nicely.

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MlN7iVIuhk”]

Anyway. Onto his presentation at the symposium. He made ten objections that supposedly squashed any chance of “Worlds in Collision” ever being remotely correct. But like any good debater he chose his arguments carefully; attacking the overall theory in places where it was weakest, and ignoring the parts that were sound. He dismissed the entire idea on the grounds of a few scientific inaccuracies, and some inconsistencies that deserved to be overlooked. One of his longest sections was devoted to poking fun at the idea of manna; something Velikovsky only mentioned in passing as a possible side effect of his theory. 

I could not help but think, the whole time I was reading his paper, was that there he was, so sure of himself, so arrogant; demanding proof confident that none could be found. Only there was. There’s considerable proof now; both scientific and archaeological  thanks to the work of the good folks over at thunderbolts.info. What do you have to say now, Sagan?

Another comment by Goldsmith in the introduction referred to the stuffy and snobbish attitude of the scientific community. As though this was a sad misconception. Asimov referred to the “scientific orthodoxy”. As though science is a secret rite reserved only for the elect! If you didn’t go to school for ten years, if you can’t write an obscure nitpicky paper with all the proper documentation, encoded in a language known only to other members of the secret society, then you’re not allowed to have an opinion. You have no right to challenge the accepted theories. Originality is forbidden in every case. They criticize Velikovsky for challenging the very foundation of geology, physics, archaeology and cosmology, and yet why take on only one small part of one science when you can shake them all? Why satisfy yourself with a  small portion of the truth?

This is more of a rant, I’m afraid, then an actual point. The question I want to leave you with is this: Does Velikovsky need more defenders after such a rebuttal from the scientific community? In a world full of books bearing his name does one more blog post with a similar title make a difference? Is there any point in even expressing your allegiance to such heretical views if you’re not a member of the scientific elite?

I believe the answer is yes. Yes there is. There will always be a need for more voices. If enough of us speak up then maybe, someday, science will belong to the people again.

The Sun Sets in the East…

I’ve finally had a chance to read Velikovsky’s “Worlds in Collision.” Velikovsky is the founder of the Electric Universe theory (of which I have not yet written.) His ideas are preposterous to the extent that contemporary scientists of his day went out of their way to try and disprove him. His ideas were so original, so fantastic, that it was inconceivable that they could be true.

I am not finished yet with Velikovsky’s book, but I am already well aware of his premise. I know he states that Venus was once a comet which came into close proximity with Earth, causing massive upheaval and chaos. I know that Mars was also involved in the “war of heaven” that was visible all over the planet and a source of fear and awe to everyone living there. What I did not know is that this conjunction of the heavens was the cause of the miracles described in the Old Testament.

Most of us read the Old Testament with a grain of salt and an air of mystery. From one end to the other it is filled with miracle, mysteries, and impossible phenomena. Joshua won a battle after praying that the sun would stand still – and it did. Physics tell us that because the Earth moves around the sun this means that the earth came to a complete standstill. Common sense tells us that if the Earth ever came to a complete standstill it probably wouldn’t survive the stress and that battle would have been humanities last. But what if that wasn’t the only cataclysmic event going on in Joshua’s time?

Exodus tells us that Moses turned all the waters of Egypt to blood. Velikovsky presents archaeological evidence that this miracle was not confined to Egypt. Ancient texts from Africa to South America record a time when all the waters of the Earth became tinted with blood; when red dust fell from the sky; when the waters ran red.

Science has told us that tides are cause by the gravitational pull of the close approach of the moon. Imagine, then, the immense tides that would occur as a result of the near approach of a comet nearly the size of the earth. Many explanations have been put for for the crossing of the Red Sea; including a strong wind. All such explanations have always sounded ludicrous to me. But there are Chinese historical texts that tell of a huge wave that crossed the mountains, and filled the valleys for years.

The near approach of two cosmic bodies causes enormous electrical discharge, which can result in overwhelming atmospheric noises. History tells us that the heavens cried aloud, and the Earth groaned. Traditional sources say that God’s voice could not be heard on Mount Sinai alone; but that the entire world heard the ten commandments.

Think about the implications of this for a second. Think about the earth opening up and swallowing disobedient Israelites. Think about God leading his people out of Egypt. All my life I thought of it in terms of magic. He granted power to Moses to bend the laws of physics. What Velikovsky suggests actually happens is far more terrifying to consider: that he drug a comet out of the cold reaches of space; that he timed a sort of cosmic Rube Goldenburg machine to coordinate exactly with Moses actions and Pharoah’s refusals; that he tore apart the earth and sky and reconfigured the entire solar system to work his will with one nation of people.

Think about that.

Velikovsky provides historical and archaeological evidence that the sun once rose in the West. For well over two thousand years we’ve been able to predict the movements of the sun and stars with reasonable accuracy. The seasons go in order. The sun rises exactly 24 hours apart each day. We can keep accurate calenders and send rockets to the moon. We assume that because there are eight planets orbiting the sun now that it was always so. We live in a time of peace and prosperity, of predictability and cosmic stability. But try taking the Old Testament a little more literally. Try throwing some physics into the equation, and imagine what kind of terrifying world existed then. We worry so much about global warming, but in the time of the Exodus Native Americans reported cases of rivers boiling.

I haven’t finished Velikovsky’s book yet. I haven’t got past the archaeology into the actual cosmology yet. But with his archeological proof alone I will never view the old testament the same way again.

Learning to Let Go

I just published my first novella, Supervillain of the Day. It will be followed by six other novellas before the year is out. That’s right, I’m writing a series. This series is not released under a traditional copyright. This series is released under Creative Commons. Do you know what that means?

The short version means it can’t be stolen. I give you permission to copy, to share, to write sequel and fanfic, to give it away, to alter and reproduce, to completely rip-off my characters. The only way you can steal that book from me is to break into my house at night and take my inventory. You cannot steal it, because I give it to you. Why? You ask. Why would you do such a thing? The answer is simple. I am not afraid.

I am not afraid that sharing my work freely will cause me to lose sales. I am not afraid of anyone else doing the same idea better then I can. I am not afraid that success comes only to the selfish. I am not afraid of someday finding my work on a pirating website.

The other day an author I follow on Twitter posted a link to another author telling successful writers not to enter the Amazon Breakthrough Contest. The reason given was that the terms and conditions state that if you win you have to sign a non-negotiable publishing contract sight unseen. No one has any idea what’s int hat contract–you could be signing over authorship of your award winning novel. You have no idea what they’ll do with it, or how much they’ll even give you in royalties. If you’re that good, the writer said, don’t sell yourself short. Be published traditionally.

I disagree. Amazon is offering a $50,000 dollar advance in exchange for signing that contract. That’s far more than most publishing companies will give you. That’s more than you’re likely to make as a writer. That’s a serious amount of money. That’s enough money to more then make up for all rights to your work now and forever. I’d sell my work, my art for that kind of money.

I’ve heard writers time and again who don’t want to write scripts, or allow their novels to be made into films, because that would involve taking a story and handing it over to a director to cut and interpret and changes as he pleases, even to the point of hiring other writers to rewrite your work. They can’t imagine putting heart and soul into a good story and then giving it away to someone else. Their art is too precious to them. They can’t let go.

If you want to be successful you need to learn to let go of your art. If you want people to read your work – let go. If you want to make money – let go. You can always write more books. The creativity that sparked your first story can surely start a second. And if you win the Amazon Breakthrough Contest your second book stands an enormous chance of being successful on its own terms.

Another person on twitter is a successful filmmaker. He recently discovered his movie on a pirating website with over 50,000 downloads. Rather than be ecstatic so many people had viewed his film, he was outraged that they had stolen it. But how many of those people would have actually watched the film if they hadn’t downloaded it? My guess is 1-2%. How many of those people actually contributed to sales? It’s impossible to say. I imagine an alternate universe where his work hadn’t been “stolen” and was less successful as a result.

I know how to stop piracy. Stop considering it stealing.

It can be hard, after spending months or years of your life on a project, to release it in the world and watch that world rip it to parts. But such is the path of the artist. Even God’s work suffered at the hands of the world. Trying to keep yours sacred and pure is impossible; unless you put it under a glass case and never let anyone touch it. But what is the point of art if not to share? And what is the point of sharing if those who share too enthusiastically are met with snarls of disapproval?

Let. Go. Write your perfect story, give it wings, and set it free.  Keep it caged and it will never sing. Set it free and watch it soar. Don’t worry that the world will change it, because it will change the world.