Tag Archives: humor

Rant Grenade: Pizza Tracking

Pizza’s like the perfect writer fuel.  You can get at it straight out of the box, no need to fuss with utensils or even plates, take a few bites and get back to writing.  Plus in most cases it comes to you.  So imagine how happy I was awhile back when science merged with the perfect writer fuel to create this:

The pizza tracker.  Maybe we’ve become jaded with the wonders of the modern era but seriously… it tracks pizza, y’all!  I mean, we’ve come from those big ass battle tank cellphones from the 80’s to having near real time intelligence of the grub you ordered.  You never have to wonder where the hell your pizza is–you know that weird space where you feel like it’s been for-frickin-ever since you placed the call so you’re trying to calculate when that was and it’s messing with your rusty math skills and you kinda feel like you’re tripping but maybe not and either way you’re hungry.  No more of that… it’s like they’re baking a chain of accountability right into the pie.

So what’s the rant about?  Because it’s a beautiful lie.  Because they lulled me in with their promise of pizza tracking and pulled the rug from under me, something I only noticed after about 4 orders where my pizza was kind of sucktacular.  See it for yourself.  Compare the old pizza tracker to the newer one:

 

See the difference?  While they were busy making it smaller and neater they were also removing the accountability from the tracker entirely.  Step 4 went from “Box” which means they took your pizza from the oven and put it into the box to “Quality Check”, which means Fuckall.  Think about it… it’s a conveyor belt oven so all you gotta do is stand at the ass end of the conveyor, look at the pizza as it comes out for a second just to be sure Johnny’s not pranking you again by turning the oven up or some starving fly decided to enter Valhalla by taking a suicidal dive into the lava cheese while screaming “witness me!” to its fly friends,  and box the damn thing up.  What kind of “quality check” are they doing?  Sticking thermometers in it to see if it achieved optimal internal temperature like a turkey? Measuring the distance between toppings to ensure perfect coverage?  No, they’re putting the pizza in the box.  That’s it.  The difference is when you literally honestly say Step 4 is “Box” most folks know that only takes a minute so it should be out the door and on its way to you.  When you say “Quality Check” it becomes this nebulous, undefined affair that could take 10, 15, who knows, 20 minutes.

And it does.  If your local pizza place is anything like mine, you’ll see your pizza dwell in Step 4 long enough to get mail there.  It is eternal.  It is the purgatory in which your pizza goes from this hot gooey wondergrub to this lame, limp heatlamp meh.  Ironically, “Quality Check” is where quality goes to die.  And my pizza like lives in there and I’m looking at the 4 do its subtle throb-glow and it’s supposed to be soothing but it feels like watching the hero of the story, say like James Bond or Flint or some other super spy, get put into a tank that’s slowly filling up with water.  I want to go to my pizza, to help it escape from “Quality Check” but that defeats the whole purpose of the call.  Besides, pizza can maybe hopefully go free from 4 to “Out for Delivery” any second.  Only pizza doesn’t.   Pizza isn’t James Bond or Flint or some other super spy with training and agency.  Pizza doesn’t escape, it becomes limp and soggy.

That’s my rant, y’all.  Another story of how science made things better and then somehow people turned that science into crap.  This is how Charlton Heston went from an astronaut to wearing a loincloth yelling “You Maniacs! You blew it all up!”  And it started with the pizza tracker.

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REMINDER: Hey guys, I still have a few copies of my novel Pendulum Heroes available over at inkitt.com.  For those of you who’ve already read it, they’ve allowed voting now!  So do your boy a favor and go to the site, grab the novel if you haven’t yet or vote on it if you have.  Since a whopping 20% of the decision on who wins the contest comes from votes, I DEFINITELY need yours!   Click here to help!

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War Journal 79: The Clean Giveaway

I work in I.T. and love emerging technology, but for some reason I am slow on the trigger when it comes to using technology to promote my writerly products.  I think the combination of me being old school, you know with the belief that a fun story and tight writing speaks for itself, along with the fact that I’m a raging cheapskate ($89 bucks a month for plugin features on WordPress?  My no is LEGION) keeps me in a space where I’m just shy of standing on a corner shouting “buy my stuff” like an out of place town cryer.

Enter my protégé and a tell of three sites.

Jen Finelli came up with the idea to have a campaign where select members of Codex Writers give away some product, whether its short stories or novel excerpts or a whole novel.  Since membership in Codex requires some skin in the game (in most cases at least one SFWA recognized pro level sale), readers will get treated to some quality speculative fiction and us writers get a chance to broaden our audience.  It’s a win for everybody.

Swords and Spaceships: The Codex Giveaway will be going on from 18-31 October on Instafreebie.  Naturally, I’m in it, giving those of you who have yet to check out my novelette “Dialogues with Talking Heads” a chance to get it for my favorite price of free-ninety nine.  It’s a fun sci-fi murder mystery so good you might feel bad you didn’t pay me for it.  Plus while you’re at it you get to check out the work of 20 other kickass neo-pros.  It’s a sweet deal, one that yours truly is definitely gonna take advantage of.  Check it out here.

That said, this is a tale of three sites, Instafreebie being one of them.  While “free” may be their middle name, “bi” follows that, as in writers should buy their add ons and upgrades to actually get the most out of it.  One of their mosts is being able to develop a mailing list.  First I was like “Mailing list… why didn’t I think of that?”  It’s a great way to connect to you guys who really, really dig what I do.  I’m talking sending you live and direct never-before-seen short stories, glimpses and teasers of my Pendulum Heroes novel series, and promo codes to save you guys some money on the books when they finally become available.  And that’s just the start.

But I’m also committed to doing that kind of promotion on the cheap.  Ain’t nothing but gristle in these trenches, folks.  To have an operational budget you gotta have an operation and that doesn’t really kick into gear until I’m sitting on a fully packaged novel.  That’s coming and soon, but for now I’m trying to apply my favorite price to everything.

Enter mailchimp.  They basically allow automation of mail lists so only you guys and potentially the folks who sign up for the Codex Giveaway will get access to my exclusives.  Their free package allows for some 2,000 subscribers, so I’m actually not mad at their pay wall.  By the time I have 2k in audience, well, dear friends, that’s when this thing’ll be an operation.

So I built a subscribe to newsletter campaign on mailchimp and here’s where we enter the third site… this blog on WordPress.  I like WordPress, they’ve got all sorts of neat widgets and plugins.  Only thing is, to incorporate the plugins, specifically the mailchimp one which would allow you guys to easily subscribe to my newsletter, I have to pay WordPress $89 dollars a month for their business plan upgrade.

Lemme get this straight, WordPress, you want me to pay almost 90 bucks a month and it doesn’t even come with HBO?

One of these days I may be world famous, a New York Times best-selling author with more dough than Papa Johns, and this post will be archived so that folks will discover this future big shot was once a writer counting his spare change.  That’ll be great… they’ll laugh and point it out and I’ll laugh with them.  But I ain’t laughing now, I’m leveling up my workaround game and I came up with the picture below.    You’re gonna see our hearty sergeant on the vast majority of my future posts.  He likes the gristle, and when you click his picture you go to my page to subscribe to all the exclusive content I mentioned earlier.  Now I can provide the form, you guys can get at the sweet swag.  Everyone wins.  Except WordPress.

So please, make it official… click the picture and join the squad!

Hungry for more gristle? Click the picture!

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War Journal 75: The Shift in Gears, The Seriously Funny

It was a good while back, around the time I started this blog, that I decided it made better sense to build a name in this industry writing short stories before I started writing books.  That way I could hit the publishers and be like “Hey, James Beamon here… you know me, the guy with the fan base a legion strong… the dude who hasn’t quit because the world’s decried he’s too legit.  Attached is my debut novel.  Since your submission guidelines said nothing about simultaneous subs, I’ve also sent it to three other fairly large publishing houses.  I look forward to hearing back from you.  Sincerely Yours (for a price), James”

I mean, it makes sense right?  The thing is writers don’t actually listen to business sense so much as the story that’s beating in their writerly hearts.  And so while I was working to get into the biz one short at a time, the big story… the novel story that’s currently spanning trilogy lengths was beating in the heart.  So I’d take time out of the story game to write the novel, going back and forth and back again.  I finished the first novel without making too much of a splash in short stories.  Same went for the second novel.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve acquired a healthy number of people who dig what I write along the way, love you folks and your awesome sense of taste and style.  I’ve gotten to SFWA recognized pro status, a mountain of an endeavor, at least I think so.  But the novel writing was definitely messing with the volume of stories and hence my takeover of the game via shorts.

Flashback to August of 2015.  I had gotten zero short story sales for the year, I mean zero with the hollow circle, one less than the loneliest number.  We were getting into the “-ember” part of the year, you know, the ass end.  And the last sale I had was back in August of 2014.  So the business sense kicked in, along with a healthy dose of fear that this would be the year of the goose egg.  I basically mothballed third novel and got a LOT more shorts written out.  And many of them sold, Daily Science Fiction, F&SF, Apex, Sci Phi Journal, and more.  At the end of 2015 and going into 2016 I got 11 short stories accepted, published or both depending on the speed of the venue.  I made the Nebula Awards Recommended Reading List… twice.

It’s April 2017 and the smoke’s cleared after my writing/submitting blitz on the marketplace.  More to the point, I feel really good about where my stories landed, the viewership I attracted, and my visibility.  And while I don’t think I’m in any position to send that ultra-brazen letter to the publishers I posted above, I do think that I couldn’t ask for a better year in terms of how I hustled.

Since I’m not about going through 2017 with more of the same, I figured it was time to do the full switch of gears.  It’s novel finishing time.  I still have some stories out there, waging war with the world’s slushpiles, but I’m not looking to write write write more stories this year.  I plan to finish the third novel, put some honey glaze on the whole trilogy, and send it out to you guys for your consumption.  Granted, I may pen one short or two if the distracting pull is strong enough, but I’m fairly focused, like a laser pointer with only one bad battery.

The last part of this post involves my serious pursuit of the nonserious.  April is Unidentified Funny Objects month.  This year we’re on the sixth volume and I’ve been an Associate Editor ever since the first one.  If you’re a writer then we need your funny.  I’d love to read what you’ve done… as long as it’s funny.  So if you wrote something that makes you laugh and/or makes others laugh and everyone laughing is laughing for the right reasons, send it to us.  Guidelines are here.

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War Journal 69: The One That Is, The One That Will Be, and The One Remembered

Some troops deploy stronger than others...

Some troops deploy stronger than others…

So it’s been a busy month, not the least because I’m waist deep in slush for Unidentified Funny Objects 5 [SIDENOTE: Writers! Send us your funny!!].  Anyway, in the space of like a weekend I’ve got news of new stories.  It’s a trifecta folks, which is strange considering how we got here.

First, the one that is.  Freshly printed in the inaugural issue of the new prozine Compelling Science Fiction, check out my hard SF story “Opportunities for Lost Children.”  This one was one of my wife’s favorite pieces, full of old money, augmented reality, luchadors and a dude named Joke Roosevelt.

Secondly, the one that will be.  Specifically, my latest story “Episodes from the Abner-Mortimer Karmic War” sold to the folks over at the No Sh!t, There I Was anthology.  Conceived by Steven Saus and edited by the illustrious Rachel Acks, these stories promise to be the most awesome over the top tales you’ll find anywhere.  Currently the Kickstarter to support the project is live.  I hope you check it out.  Preorder!  Your money raises my pay rate… papa needs a PlayStation VR headset, which is likely the closest I’ll come to a holodeck in my lifetime.

Finally, we have the one remembered.  Ares Magazine bought my story “King of the Shell Game” like forever ago.  I’m talking like March of 2014.  They said they wanted it, would pay on publication and… went quiet.  It was that deathly stillness horror in the fog kinda quiet.  That process let me know authors age in dog years when they’re waiting to see their stuff hit print.  A year later, March 2015, the folks over at Ares hit me and said my story would appear sometime within the next three issues.  Cool.  Months went by.  And I just plain stopped checking.  I finally got an impulse to look into it and there it was… no announcement about it or nothing.  It’s just hanging out there, quietly being a story I really enjoyed writing, this cool concept of energy beings wearing other sentient races as shells and absorbing the host’s attributes for a short while.  I urge you all to check it out.

 

 

 

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