Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Connections, Feedback, General Musings, Health, Hospice, Kindle, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Society | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, free, health, Her Final Year, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, promotion, Science Fiction, Thanksgiving, writing
As those close to me know, I’m not really “into” holidays the way many people are. Oh, I’m happy to have an excuse to eat and drink more, to visit with family & friends, to relax a bit more than usual. And I can appreciate the rituals which surround the holidays, and how those rituals can give some definition and context for things. Marking birthday milestones. Taking time to remember loved ones and Veterans. Observing the change of seasons and acknowledging the passing of years. Giving thanks.
Those forms are important. I understand why holidays exist even unto this modern age, when everything seems to exist in a constant froth of work, commerce, and entertainment.
But it is easy — far too easy — to come to think of those holidays as things in themselves, rather than reminders. The meanings of the rituals are lost, and only the rituals themselves become important.
And there, I just did the same thing. I just fell into the ritual of bemoaning how holidays have lost their meaning.
What I want to say is this: thank you. Thank you for being family, thank you for being a friend, thank you for just reading my stuff. I try to remember to be appreciative for all this, and for so much more, to make that appreciation more of an attitude than a holiday.
Filed under: Amazon, Astronomy, Connections, Emergency, Feedback, Health, Hospice, Kindle, Marketing, movies, NASA, NPR, Predictions, Preparedness, Promotion, Publishing, Science, Science Fiction, Space, Survival | Tags: Amazon, appendectomy, appendicitis, blogging, bookbinding, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, David Casarett, direct publishing, emergency, feedback, free, health, hospice, jim downey, Kindle, leather, literature, movies, NPR, Philip James Bailey, predictions, promotion, reviews, science, Science Fiction, space, travel, video, Voyager
This morning, NPR repeated the story of Voyager 1 having apparently left the solar system.
I wonder why?
* * *
Philip James Bailey, Festus:
We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;
In feelings, not in figures on a dial.
We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives
Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.
Life’s but a means unto an end; that end
Beginning, mean, and end to all things,—God.
* * *
We went shopping yesterday.
Big deal, right? Actually, it kinda was. It was the first time my wife had been in good enough shape to do so since her emergency appendectomy. Things are slowly returning to whatever passes for normal.
* * *
Dr. David Casarett is the director of hospice care at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He works with families as they try to navigate end-of-life decisions.
At least once a week, Casarett says, one of his patients expresses a desire to end his or her own life. “It’s a reminder to me that I have to stop whatever I was doing … and sit back down to try to find out what is motivating that request,” he says. “Is it really a carefully thought out desire to die, or is it, as it is unfortunately many times, a cry for help?”
It’s a good story.
* * *
Tomorrow’s the last day this month to get the free Kindle edition of Communion of Dreams. And this week is the last one to get entered into the drawing for a hand-bound leather copy of the special edition. Remember, you have to have posted a review on Amazon of the book, and then post a comment with a link to that review in this blog entry. There are currently 65 reviews on Amazon, but only 8 entrants for the drawing — don’t delay, as the end will come sooner than you expect.
As it usually does, for good or ill.
Filed under: Amazon, Connections, General Musings, Humor, Kindle, Marketing, movies, Music, Predictions, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Weather, YouTube | Tags: A Tale of Two Cities, Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, care-giving, Charles Dickens, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, Fred Hoyle, free, Her Final Year, humor, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, Led Zeppelin, literature, movies, music, October The First is Too Late, predictions, promotion, Science Fiction, Sean Carroll, St. Cybi's Well, time travel, travel, video, www youtube
Partially related to stuff which happens in St. Cybi’s Well, but also I suspect because I just turned 55, I’ve been thinking about “time” a lot. The perceptions of it, how it ‘works’, how it is portrayed in books and movies. This topic is hardly new for me, though, since tropes about time travel are so common in Science Fiction.
Anyway, one interesting little side-track I was considering this morning was what you could do with a series of stories/books premised on a slightly different concept of time than what we commonly work with. Specifically, I was thinking of time as a manifestation of other aspects of the universe, analogous to how weather is a manifestation of other physical characteristics on a planet. You could have something like a “time forecast”, wherein changes in the quality of time itself had an impact on the story/characters. Perhaps our little corner of reality has long been in a ‘calm’ period of time weather, with things moving along smoothly and placidly, so that we’ve come to expect that it will always be that way. What happens when there’s a change? Perhaps a new front moves through? A storm? A tornado? Does everything get jumbled, a la October The First is Too Late? Perhaps it could literally be the best of times and the worst of times simultaneously.
Something to play with. But for now, I need to get back to work. And you, if you haven’t already, should take advantage of this last day of the week-long promotion and go download Communion of Dreams and/or Her Final Year.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Connections, Constitution, Government, Health, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction | Tags: 55, Alzheimer's, Amazon, birthday, blogging, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, Constitution, direct publishing, free, health, hospice, Independence Day, jim downey, John Bourke, July 4th, Kindle, memoir, promotion, Science Fiction
Happy Independence Day, everyone!
And a quick update on how things are going with the promotion so far: almost 1300 downloads of Communion of Dreams, and the current ranking for that book is #647 overall in the Free Kindle Store (it down all the way to #289 at one point on Tuesday evening!) And Her Final Year is presently at #1,570, with 231 downloads so far. Remember, the promotion ends tomorrow night — so take advantage of it now!
Have a safe & fun Fourth!
*Because I’m 55, get it? Yes, I am so very clever. Also because of the meaning of “five by five“, which is unknown to most people these days, belonging to another era.
Filed under: Amazon, Art, Book Conservation, Connections, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Religion, Science Fiction, tech | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, art, blogging, book conservation, bookbinding, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, free, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, promotion, Science Fiction, technology
Remember that 700+ year old bible I posted about the beginning of June? This one:
Well, this weekend I got started working on the book. And I thought I’d share a couple of images of what I found inside, and what I’ve done to it so far.
Here’s the spine of the text block, once it had been freed from the cover seen above:
That’s after I’ve removed the gross chunks of paper liners which were applied between the cords. I’ve since removed all the rest of the liners, first using a jeweler’s tweezers and then a scalpel. Anyway, I want to note the very evident lines of sewing stations (holes punched through the folios) from the original binding. That shows that the book has been rebound at least once.
Here’s another image:
That’s an image of the interior of the cover. Which shows a couple of interesting things. First, you can see how the vellum of the cover molded itself to the spine of the text block over time. That sort of thing happens over *centuries*.
Second, how the supporting cords are laced into the cover. The sewing was done in a way that it wrapped around the cords, which helps to support the overall structure. The cords are then laced into a channel, looped over the board material, and then come back on the inside and are pasted down. This is VERY common of medieval and Renaissance bindings.
And lastly — note that the cover material is an early variety of bookboard. It’s NOT wood. This is a clue to the age of the binding. It means that it is after the introduction of papermaking to Europe. Which is to say, this book was probably rebound sometime in the 14th or 15th century. (Papermaking technology was introduced to Southern Europe late in the 13th century, but it took a little while to disseminate across the continent.)
So, I removed a couple of layers of more modern papers on the inside, and pulled the old ends of the cords out of the bookboard. Then I dampened the board on the inside, put it between moisture barrier sheets, and put it into a press to flatten overnight. Then once the spine of the text block was fairly clean I applied a layer of conservation adhesive (a blend of methyl-cellulose and poly-vinyl-acetate) and some fairly heavy Kozo-fiber paper, which I stippled onto the spine so that it would conform to the existing structure and hold everything in place. Like this:
You’ll note that it extends past the text block on the left-hand side of the spine. I can trim that excess off with a scalpel once everything is dried. I should finish up the rest of the work tomorrow.
Oh, and speaking of tomorrow … remember, the week-long give-away of my books starts then!
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Connections, Feedback, Fireworks, Health, Hobbits, Humor, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Synesthesia, tech | Tags: 301, 55, Alzheimer's, Amazon, birthday, blogging, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, free, health, Hobbits, hospice, humor, jim downey, John Bourke, July 4th, Kindle, memoir, promotion, Science Fiction
As I’ve noted previously, July 4th is my birthday (secondary thought – damn, this blog is six years old!). And in something of a “Hobbit’s Birthday” spirit, again this year I’m going to run a promotion in celebration. But because I’m turning 55, it’s going to be a bit different than last year. Instead, the Kindle edition of Communion of Dreams will be free for 5 days – yup, July 1st through July 5th.
And that still ain’t all. Nope. When the promotional period is over, the Kindle edition price for each book will drop to just $3.01. Why $3.01? Well, because of Amazon’s policies, it’s best to keep the price over $2.99. And I like the ‘shape’ of 301, mild synesthete that I am. And the number has some interesting properties. So, $3.01 it is.
And remember, you don’t even need an actual Kindle to enjoy either book, because there is a free Kindle emulator/app for just about every computer/tablet/mobile device out there. Earlier this year I installed the app on my Android phone, and I’ve been happily using it in lieu of my Kindle since.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Connections, Feedback, Kindle, Marketing, Predictions, Promotion, Science Fiction, Writing stuff | Tags: 1500, Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, Her Final Year, hospice, jim downey, John Bourke, Kickstarter, Kindle, literature, predictions, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, writing
So, yesterday’s post was #1,500 here. The last Big Round Number was posted on December 9, 2010. Since I started the blog in January 2007, that means that the pace has actually been fairly stable, in terms of my posting — about 250 a year, more or less.
I never really expected it to last this long. But I’m glad it has. And I’m glad that so many people have shared some or all of the ride with me. Have been witness to my efforts to get Communion of Dreams published conventionally. Have shared my experiences as a care-provider for someone with Alzheimer’s (and the subsequent book). Have supported me when I decided to self-publish CoD. Have helped to spread the word about that novel. Have encouraged me to write the prequel.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Art, Blade Runner, Connections, Depression, Failure, Flu, General Musings, Health, Philip K. Dick, Ridley Scott, Science, Science Fiction, Scientific American, Society, Writing stuff, YouTube | Tags: Alzheimer's, art, bipolar, Blade Runner, blogging, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, health, Her Final Year, hospice, jim downey, John Bourke, Kickstarter, memoir, memory, New York Review of Books, Oliver Sacks, parainfluenza, Philip K. Dick, reality, science, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, video, writing, www youtube
Of late, as I have been slowly getting over the rather nasty bout of parainfluenza I mentioned previously, shedding the more annoying and disgusting symptoms, I’ve also come to realize that just now I am pulling out of the depressive trough of one of my long-term bipolar cycles. It wasn’t a particularly bad trough, and was somewhat mitigated by the success of the Kickstarter back in the fall. Nonetheless, it was there, as I can see in hindsight.
I am frequently struck just how much of our life doesn’t make sense until seen from a distance. Just recently I was surprised at the revelation of *why* the failure of Her Final Year to be more successful bothered me as much as it did: it was because I had seen the book as being a way to create something positive (for the world) out of the experience of being a long-term care provider. To have the book only reach a limited audience was, in my mind, saying that our roles as care-givers didn’t matter.
Which isn’t true, of course, but that was the emotional reality which I had been dealing with. The “narrative truth”, if you will. A term I borrow from a very interesting meditation by Oliver Sacks at the New York Review of Books website titled Speak, Memory. From the article:
There is, it seems, no mechanism in the mind or the brain for ensuring the truth, or at least the veridical character, of our recollections. We have no direct access to historical truth, and what we feel or assert to be true (as Helen Keller was in a very good position to note) depends as much on our imagination as our senses. There is no way by which the events of the world can be directly transmitted or recorded in our brains; they are experienced and constructed in a highly subjective way, which is different in every individual to begin with, and differently reinterpreted or reexperienced whenever they are recollected. (The neuroscientist Gerald M. Edelman often speaks of perceiving as “creating,” and remembering as “recreating” or “recategorizing.”) Frequently, our only truth is narrative truth, the stories we tell each other, and ourselves—the stories we continually recategorize and refine. Such subjectivity is built into the very nature of memory, and follows from its basis and mechanisms in the human brain. The wonder is that aberrations of a gross sort are relatively rare, and that, for the most part, our memories are relatively solid and reliable.
Let me repeat one bit of that: “Frequently, our only truth is narrative truth, the stories we tell each other, and ourselves.”
I think this is at the very heart of why fiction has such power, and appeal. I also think that it explains the well-documented phenomenon of people believing things which are clearly and demonstratively false, if their facts come from a trusted source.
Little surprise that writers of fiction are aware of this very human trait, and have explored it in all manner of ways. I have a note here on my desk, a scrawl written on a scrap of paper some months ago as I was thinking through character motivations in St. Cybi’s Well, which says simply: “We take our truths from the people we trust.”
And here’s another example, from one of my favorite movies, exploring a favorite theme of Philip K. Dick’s:
That theme? The nature of reality. And this is how the Sacks essay closes:
Indifference to source allows us to assimilate what we read, what we are told, what others say and think and write and paint, as intensely and richly as if they were primary experiences. It allows us to see and hear with other eyes and ears, to enter into other minds, to assimilate the art and science and religion of the whole culture, to enter into and contribute to the common mind, the general commonwealth of knowledge. This sort of sharing and participation, this communion, would not be possible if all our knowledge, our memories, were tagged and identified, seen as private, exclusively ours. Memory is dialogic and arises not only from direct experience but from the intercourse of many minds.
In other words, that reality is a shared construct. A Communion of Dreams, if you will.
Time for me to get back to work.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Feedback, Health, Hospice, Marketing, Promotion, Society | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, care-giving, dementia, direct publishing, discount, free, health, Her Final Year, hospice, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, memoir, promotion, reviews
So, some big news to share about our care-giving memoir Her Final Year.
But that’s not the big news.
During the same period, Jan 1 – 4, the paperback version of the book bought through our CreateSpace store will be $2.00 off: just use discount code ZZYCFFG2 when you check out. Please note that this offer is only good through the CreateSpace store, not on Amazon generally.
But that’s not the big news, either.
The big news is that we’re permanently lowering the price of the book — in both Kindle and paperback editions — by $3.00. Yup, the new Kindle edition price will be just $5.95, and the paperback edition price will be only $13.95. These price changes will go into effect on January 1, and will be the new baseline prices across the board.
To date we’ve given away 7,191 copies of the Kindle edition of Her Final Year. That’s a very good start in terms of getting the book into the hands of people who need it, and the reviews have been *very* positive. But we would like to see it have even further reach. So even though we haven’t yet broken even on the costs invested in the book, we’ve decided to go ahead and lower the price permanently, and to kick off that new price with these special 4 days of promotions.
Help us out — be sure to get your copy of the book, if you haven’t done so already, and to let others know. Caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other age-related dementia is a huge, huge problem for families all around the globe. Our experience as care-providers can make the journey easier, sharing how we coped with the joys and sorrows, the personal failings and the personal growth.
Thanks — and Happy New Years!
Filed under: Amazon, Health, Hospice, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, free, health, Her Final Year, hospice, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, literature, memoir, Merry Christmas, promotion, Science Fiction
Just a quick note to wish everyone a happy holiday, and to remind you that today the Kindle editions of both my novel Communion of Dreams and our care-giving memoir Her Final Year are both *free* all day long today!
If you haven’t already gotten a Kindle copy of both books, I invite you to pop by Amazon and download them — you don’t even need a Kindle, because there are free emulators for just about any electronic computer/mobile device you may have gotten from Santa today.
And if you know someone who likes good classic speculative fiction, or who has someone in their family/circle of friends who is dealing with care-giving, please share the news of this promotional day with them.
Merry Christmas to one & all!