Saturday, July 23, 2016

Okay, I'm Getting Weird Traffic Again At This Blog...

I'm getting stat counts but no one's hitting any actual article pages.

Should I be worried?

Edit: It's looking like most of this uncorrelated traffic is coming from Russia.

If they're here for my Pokemon, FORGET IT.
/defends to the death

Friday, July 22, 2016

I Succumbed to the Urge... I Will Geek Out This August 2016 Comic-Con in Tampa

I am wary of the budget woes I currently have, but I need to enjoy life once in awhile, dammit.

Also, the Tampa Bay Comic Con has a couple of presentations on writing that Saturday August 6th I wanna follow up on.

Also also, with the release of Pokemon GO, I'm sorely tempted to see if the convention hall will have working WiFi and a ton of PokeStops. Here's hoping there's a Lure drop of EPIC proportions that weekend.

Alas, I WILL NOT Cosplay this year. It gets too hot and sweaty and carrying the lightsaber everywhere gets complicated etc. etc.

I will document the atrocities as best I can.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

There Are Pidgeottos At The Library: Pokemon GO and Outreach

So last week a new online game designed as a smartphone App - Pokemon GO - came out, and pretty much dominated the news and gaming fervor since then. It's outpacing social media apps and turning into a kaiju-sized monster. Busy week...

Based on the popular Pokemon trading/training/battle game, Pokemon GO is an update of the original game from the early 1990s. This time, the game's draw is that it can be played in a real-world environs. GO overlaps onto existing map locations (called "augmented reality") and places the cartoon battle animals - currently the original 150 creatures - into these locations for people to "catch" them for powering up, evolving, and fighting other players' Pokemon.

Meanwhile, real-world public areas - parks, churches, malls, libraries - are set up to serve as either PokeStops - places for players to resupply themselves with needed gear - or Gyms - places for players to battle their Pokemon to control that Gym as a Trainer.

This means that people playing the game HAVE to go to these real-world locales to do what they do to level up and win.

And I mentioned libraries.

The library where I work is a PokeStop: that is, we can be a place for players to recharge (there are two Gyms nearby). PokeStops can also have Lures running in half-hour intervals that summon Pokemon into range for capture, which means every so often players - kids, teens AND adults (those who played in the 1990s with nostalgia and whimsy) - will gather at our library primarily to restock and reload.

This all came as a sudden shock: although news about GO had been out for a year or more, nobody really understood the real-world applications of this game until it got the huge response from millions of players suddenly swarming about in places that didn't realize they were PokeStops/Gyms.

The question is, how can libraries benefit from this real-world development?

There's a couple of resources librarians can read up on to gain understanding of Pokemon GO, and also get tips on how to market/outreach to the kids/adults/families coming in to snare themselves a PsyDuck. School Library Journal has a link, ALA has a blog page on their Library Services to Children site, and the Public Library Association is diving into the mania while the going's good.

The best suggestions are to advertise locally - and early and often - that the library is a game location. I've been doing that with City of Bartow Library's Facebook page, and am looking to create a few more online tags for people to hear the news. Creating signs and banners is an easy step to take. One idea would be to host events: As a PokeStop, I can plan ahead and announce a Lure running on a specific day and time to draw in those who'll want to benefit from an increase in Pokemon to capture (a test run showed me the Lure draws in about TRIPLE the amount of Pokemon, sweet).

A wonderful suggestion by a library group promoting GO: using a 3D printer if you got one (WE DO) and creating Pokemon badges (WE COULD) that kids can pick up if they show that they're on the game and winning certain things. Along with the badge we'd give them a library bookmark promoting our hours and library events.

One other thing libraries have to do: Remind people playing the game to stay safe. There is a risk to playing GO because of the requirement to play in the real world. It involves walking outdoors, near major traffic areas sometimes or in public parks with dangers involving remote spots or late-night activities. There are a lot of serious safety concerns. We've got to make sure people in our libraries - in our communities - stay safe as best as possible.

Meanwhile, the biggest problem: Keeping up with Pokeballs. It's gonna take a lot of balls to play Pokemon GO.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

NEW Book Published - Surviving the Age of Obstruction

I may have mentioned from time to time that I had purchased a publication deal with Xlibris a few years ago. Well, ten eleven years ago, actually.

Long story short, I decided to just get the contract done with, take a sampling of essays/articles I write on my political blog You Might Notice a Trend, and put it into book form. It's doable: many a newspaper or media columnist collect their works in such a way - Molly Ivins for example - to have available as a collection. Sort of like a Greatest Hits album.

So, I went and put my political rants into something I can show to my friends and enemies. Surviving the Age of Obstruction: Notes on the Obama years.

It's a look back at eight years of political madness, a pro-Obama, anti-Republican work that delves into my apostasy and my observations on how Obama - and the nation - endured it all.

I submitted the final proofing two weeks ago. The book has been available on and Barnes and Noble's websites since last week. I just got a copy from the publisher this weekend.

There is something incredibly satisfying about holding a physical copy of your book. A tangible sensation of completion, of getting past a finish line. It's different than publishing an ebook, as there's a lack of a trophy of sorts - the printed book - to make that completion feel real.

Just to note, the process from submitting the rough draft to completed physical copy has sped up the last time I did this. Last of the Grapefruit Wars - my short story collection - took a few weeks to go through the editing and proofing process, and then took another two months for print availability (the point of Print-on-Demand is that the book is saved on file and physically printed on an order-by-order basis).

I know some of the people reading this blog may not know about my political ranting blog, but you can check that out, I have the link available above and over on the right menu lists.

Now all I need to do is ask about oh 500,000 people to buy my book. That shouldn't be too hard...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2016

So, while I've got a bunch of projects floating out there, MIGHT AS WELL START ONE MORE!

ow, stop hitting me! Just go visit and find out what I'm shilling!

Actually, I'm going to be using this upcoming July Camp NaNo to re-start that Ocean Dancers plot idea I had two years ago and take it into a different direction. I like the idea, and I wanna mess with it, but I've looked at how I've painted myself into a corner (again) on the first run and I'm thinking I need to try an alternate path.

So, now. It's going to be How to Invade Earth And Get Away With It.

this won't be the final cover, this is just a placeholder/
motivator to get er done.

I worry the book title's already been done, although WorldCat is telling me I'm in the clear on this.

If anyone in Central Florida area wants in on the Camp NaNo Cabin I'm in, leave a comment here or contact me at the CampNaNo site (under the name of "Witty").

Monday, June 20, 2016

Bit Off-Topic: Missing Some Gameplay

You should know I still miss City of Heroes.

I miss the superhero roleplay. The team-ups. The power mixing. The costumes. The overall camp/seriousness of the eternal struggle of GOOD vs. EVIL.

The few MMOs in superhero genre don't cover the loss. Champions Online is just questionable gameplay and I could never get into the dynamics of it.

I've done other MMOs: Star Trek Online and Star Wars The Old Republic, but both of them don't provide much to free play.

I can't really get into the PvP games. It's the big reason why I didn't get Overwatch when it came out this month, although the buzz on it as a multiplayer makes it sound so tempting. Also, budget. I can't indulge right now... if ever.

I need something to improve my mood, though.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Indie eBook Award Via Library Journal

Just to be fair aboot it, I want to let everyone else who's self-publishing their eBooks to know that Library Journal - as part of the American Library Association - is hosting an Indie eBook Award for 2016.

The rules are simple. Two eBooks enter, one eBook leaves.

Okay, actually, it's this:
The competition is open to all English-language self-published ebooks for which the author is the copyright holder of the Work, and holds the rights to digital distribution. Entries will be evaluated on content, writing quality, and overall quality of production and appearance. There are no restrictions on date of publication. (Library Journal may demand proof of eligibility of semifinalists.) Review our full terms & conditions before submitting your entries.
Library Journal (“LJ”) honors the best self-published ebooks in the following genres: Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Young Adult.
ATTENTION: If your book in not in one of these genres, you can still submit to SELF-e using our standard submission form.
Judging committees will be comprised of Library Journal editors and public library collection development & acquisition librarians, who are responsible for selecting content suitable for their libraries. Some winners of the 2015 contest will also be participating as judges. They will select one winner and designate two honorable mentions in each category. We are accepting contest submissions through July 31, 2016.
Each genre prize Winner shall receive $1,000.00. All winners and honorable mentions shall also receive:
  • A full LJ review, in print and online
  • A promotional ad in LJ’s December “Best of Books” issue, displaying all award winners honor books
  • Recognition at LJ Self-Published Ebook Awards reception at the 2017 American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta

So you have until July 31st to get your eBook copyright-protected, perform a summer solstice pagan ritual (gotta get that done by June 21, you heathens), and submit at least one of your eBooks.

I will. I'm tempted to submit two: Body Armor Blues and A Serious Tank on a Clockwork World. I'm more curious to see what the response will be like rather than considering I'll win anything. What makes it worthwhile is even the honorable mentions will get a review published of their works, which means a lot of public and college libraries will see those reviews in Library Journal (and libraries are good markets for books AND eBooks)...

Such is life, c'est la vie.