Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Bad Astronomy, Feedback, Health, Hospice, Humor, Kindle, Marketing, Phil Plait, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Slate, YouTube | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Australia, Bad Astronomy, blogging, Brazil, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, free, health, hospice, humor, Japan, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, literature, memoir, optical illusion, pareidolia, Phil Plait, promotion, Science Fiction, Slate, video, www youtube
Via Phil Plait, another wonderful illusion:
Plait has the full explanation (and a number of other links worth checking out), but here’s the critical part:
The key to this whole thing is the way your brain sees perspective, specifically convex and concave shapes, coupled with its uncanny ability to pick a face out of patterns (called pareidolia). Your brain wants to interpret the dragon as a face, and faces are convex: The sides of the face curve away from you (when you look at someone’s face, their nose is closer to you than their ears).
Definitely worth checking out!
Quick note about the promo results: 175 copies of Communion of Dreams were downloaded, including first-time downloads in Japan and Brazil! Her Final Year had a total of 63 downloads, and before the promo started someone in Australia bought a copy. I should be used to this by now, but I still really get a kick out of the fact that people around the world are reading both books.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Connections, Feedback, Kindle, Marketing, Publishing, Science Fiction, Wales, Writing stuff | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, free, India, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, literature, memoir, promotion, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, Wales, writing
Thanks to everyone for helping make the promotion a success — I think we got an excellent response for a book which has been available for some 18 months, with 1,366 total downloads of Communion of Dreams! That breaks down as 1,193 in the U.S. market, 66 in the U.K., 102 in Germany, two in India, and 3 in Canada. It may be silly, but I think that it’s a real hoot that there are people in India who have downloaded my book.
I’ve been reading science fiction for over 40 years, and it’s my favorite subject, but I’ll be very honest and say that even after reading this entire book, I could not understand what the artifact actually was. I also did not understand what the burl was, nor what the gel was. I think this story could have been a lot more exciting if it was trimmed down by 50%. I applaud the author’s first efforts at writing, but I think he should try again.
Well, gee, I suppose that’s meant to be encouraging, and the reviewer does end with:
“Practice makes perfect — best of luck with your next book!”
So maybe they’ll like St. Cybi’s Well if I don’t spend too much time with characters, setting, or have too many difficult concepts in it. And I probably shouldn’t have it set in Wales, since that’s not science-fictiony enough. I’ll have to keep that in mind.
If you have some thoughts on the book to share, I’m always happy to have the additional reviews.
Well, maybe make that I’m usually happy to have the additional reviews.
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: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Feedback, Health, Hospice, Kindle, Marketing, Predictions, Publishing, Science Fiction | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, free, health, Her Final Year, hospice, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, memoir, promotion, Science Fiction
… that the promotion is now running, and both Communion of Dreams and Her Final Year are now free to download! Things are off to a good start, and as I write this Communion of Dreams has been downloaded 500 times already, and is currently doing quite well in the Kindle rankings. Things have been a bit slower for Her Final Year but it is still doing well, and for the first time ever I’ve had one of my books downloaded by someone in India. That’s pretty cool.
So, if you haven’t gotten your copy of either book — or if you know someone who may be interested in either one — this is the time to act! Get ‘em while they’re hot!
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, 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!
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Art, Ballistics, Book Conservation, Connections, Emergency, General Musings, Health, Kindle, Marketing, Music, Preparedness, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Survival, Writing stuff, YouTube | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, art, ballistics, BBTI, blogging, book conservation, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, firearms, guns, health, hospice, jim downey, John Bourke, Kickstarter, Kindle, Legacy Bookbindery, literature, memoir, promotion, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, stroke, The Beatles, video, writing
My wife answered the phone. I could tell just from her facial expression that it was bad news.
“Oh, no!” she said. “What happened?”
* * * * * * * *
As part of putting together the Kickstarter project for St. Cybi’s Well, I need to explain *why* I want people to hand over their hard-earned money. I mean, I don’t need to buy materials or hire someone to do research for me. I don’t need operating capital for renting a studio, there’s no up-front printing costs to speak of. Why not just write St. Cybi’s Well on my own time, at my own pace, the way I wrote Communion of Dreams and co-authored Her Final Year?
Writing such an explanation — writing anything, really — is the perfect way for me to clarify my thoughts, to push past vague thinking and distill my understanding. You’ll see the finished product in a few days, but this passage from a blog post a month ago is a pretty good insight:
I recently turned 54. And I have accomplished a number of things of which I am justly proud. I have friends and family I love. I have a wonderful wife. I have written books and articles which have brought joy, knowledge, and solace to others. I have helped to preserve history in the form of books & documents. I have created art, sold art, made my little corner of the world a slightly better place. I’ve even helped expand the pool of ballistics knowledge a bit. Frankly, I’ve lived longer and accomplished more than I ever really expected to.
But I have more yet to do. Time to get on with it.
* * * * * * *
My wife answered the phone. I could tell just from her facial expression that it was bad news.
“Oh, no!” she said. “What happened?”
She listened for a moment, then got up to go into her office. I heard her talking some more. When she came back I looked at her quizzically.
“Tanna had some kind of accident. John was calling to see if I had any ‘emergency contact’ info from the Directory he could pass along to the hospital.”
A couple years ago, my wife and I put together this Directory for our neighborhood association. We’d included this option for people to list if they wanted. Tanna was one of our nearby neighbors, a nice semi-retired woman who we see almost daily on our walks.
I looked at her. “Anything?”
“Yeah, I told him what we had.”
“So, what happened?”
“She evidently had a stroke while out walking her dog. Just collapsed. John and a couple of other neighbors saw her go down, went to check on her, called an ambulance.”
“Yeah.” My wife looked at me. “She’s only a couple years older than you are.”
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Connections, Feedback, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, literature, memoir, promotion, Science Fiction
Got an email from Amazon this morning. Which isn’t that unusual, since I get stuff from them for both the Kindle and Createspace publishing for both Communion of Dreams and Her Final Year, as well as any number of the typical promotional messages anyone with an account gets. But this message was different. Here’s the first bit of it:
Are you looking for something in our Science Fiction & Fantasy books department? If so, you might be interested in these items.
Communion of Dreams [Kindle Edition]
by James DowneyPrice: $4.95
And then three other books, as well as a link to a listing for a bunch of others.
No idea why this showed up in my inbox today. Anyone else see something like that, today or previously? So far there’s only been a slight bump in sales, so it doesn’t look like it was too widely promoted.