Communion Of Dreams

Sometimes, people impress the hell out of me.
January 21, 2012, 3:01 pm
Filed under: Art, Augmented Reality, George Lucas, Humor, movies, Science Fiction, Society, Star Wars, YouTube

I can be a bit of a curmudgeon. A grump. A misanthrope. Anyone who’s read my blog for a while knows this.

But sometimes, people impress the hell out of me. Oh, I’m not talking about the sorts of things that cause a lump in your throat. You know, self-sacrifice . . . being kind to strangers . . . saving a defenseless animal . . . that kind of thing. No, I’m talking about how people can be remarkably creative and intelligent. Like this:

Yeah, it’s two hours long. You don’t have to watch it all at once. Just look at it in bits and pieces. It’s OK, because you know the story, and the thing was *designed* to be sampled:

In 2009, thousands of Internet users were asked to remake “Star Wars: A New Hope” into a fan film, 15 seconds at a time. Contributors were allowed to recreate scenes from Star Wars however they wanted. Within just a few months SWU grew into a wild success. The creativity that poured into the project was unimaginable.

Just watching the amazing approaches that different people took to telling each slice of the story is pretty mind-blowing. Everything from bad acting with pretty good mock-ups of the scenes, to sock puppets, to incredible animation, to re-interpretations using animals, and on and on. It’s really damned impressive.

And of course, so is the brilliance behind the idea, and seeing it to completion.

Yeah, sometimes people impress the hell out of me. I’ve been laughing my ass off watching this thing.

Jim Downey

January 19, 2012, 3:02 pm
Filed under: Amazon, Feedback, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction

{stage whisper} OK, here’s the news.

Communion of Dreams
is now available in a Kindle version. I’m waiting for the paperback version to be ready before I make a real effort to promote it. That should happen next week.

But in the meantime, I know a lot of folks have been waiting for the Kindle version. And yeah, it *is* a lot more readable than the old .pdf version was. So you should plunk down the $4.95 for a copy. Definitely. Or, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can get it on loan for free – yeah, free.

And that is such a good idea I’m going to steal it. Here’s what I mean . . .

You can really help me out by buying a Kindle version. Seriously, a surge in sales would get people’s attention, and help me out a huge amount. But I’ll make you a deal: if you don’t like it for whatever reason, I’ll refund your money. Of course, I would rather that you liked it, and thought it was cheap cheap cheap at $4.95, and so much so that you went and told all your friends that it is the best book EVER and that they should get a copy. But as a fallback position I’ll refund your purchase if you don’t like it. I mean me, personally – I’ll send you $4.95. You can’t go wrong.

Oh, one more thing . . . anyone who will take the time to write a review of the book will earn my eternal gratitude. Really.

Watch for further news about the paperback edition next week. And maybe some other updates about things before then.

{/stage whisper}

Success story.
January 16, 2012, 2:53 pm
Filed under: Kindle, Marketing, MetaFilter, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Writing stuff

Nice to see this story about an SF author finding some success with self-publishing for the Kindle just as we’re getting ready to publish Communion of Dreams the same way:

Thanks for the feedback on how to price the Kindle version of CoD in yesterday’s post. After hearing from different people, and their reasoning, we’re going to price it at $4.95. Yeah, not $4.99 – just to be a little bit different.

And the winner for a free Kindle copy of the book is Steve! Yay!

Stay tuned for more news and other chances to win!

Jim Downey

Another question.
January 15, 2012, 12:24 pm
Filed under: Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Writing stuff

So, thanks for all who weighed in on the cover design question the other day. We’re going to go with a slightly modified version (dropping the “by”) of #7 – this one:

And Lyriel won the drawing for a copy of the printed book.

Now, another question for everyone, and this time I will hold a drawing from those who comments/sends me an email with feedback for a Kindle copy of the book. The question is how I should price the Kindle version?

Here are the choices, and a bit of explanation behind the strategy behind each:

  1. $7.99. This is a popular price-point for a lot of Science Fiction/Fantasy books, just from casually browsing through that category on Amazon. Yeah, there’s pricier stuff, but it is usually newer books by well-established authors. I am not well-established, and some 35,000 .pdf copies of Communion of Dreams have already been downloaded over the last 5 years. But there is also something to be said for the message of  “this is a quality book, you can tell by the price.”
  2. ***

  3. $4.99.  Another popular price-point for the genre. Gets it into the “under five bucks – why not?” category.
  4. ***

  5. $2.99.  Another pretty common price-point, particularly for a lot of much older work or stuff from unknown authors.  And at this price perhaps a lot of people who read the .pdf version in the past might say “yeah, I’m willing to pop three bucks for an updated/more Kindle-friendly copy.”

I could go lower, but that would shift the book into the ‘35% royalty’ category, which is a huge disincentive for me. It also strikes me that this is saying that I don’t value the book highly enough.

So, of those three choices, I would like to know which one you would go for. And if you would like to explain your reasoning, I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

Edited to add: Please get your comments/choices to me by noon Monday.

Jim Downey


As we’re closing in on having Communion of Dreams ready to go out in both digital and print form, I’ve been thinking about changes in story-telling formats. And I’ve just seen an exceptional example of just that, even though I’ve never been fond of horror movies/books, and the zombie genre in particular. It’s brilliant, though some of the images are disturbing.

Be sure to start down at “Day 1”.

Jim Downey

(Via MeFi.)

Decisions, decisions.
January 12, 2012, 6:33 pm
Filed under: Art, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Writing stuff

Take a look at the top of this blog. See that wonderful image of the McBaine Burr Oak by Peter Haigh? I’ve always loved that image, and Peter has been kind enough to grant me use of his image for my blog, for the Communion of Dreams website, and now, for the cover of the book.

So, my wife and I have gone over different cover designs, and have decided that we like the idea of having the image over the entire cover, slightly offset so that all of the trunk of the tree is on the front of the book, with the rest wrapping around. But now I would like your help in deciding the final cover design.

Below you’ll find seven different versions of the cover, titled 1 – 7. Take a look, and let me know in comments how you would rank them, in order, from favorite to least favorite. If you want to offer other thoughts or feedback, that’s OK too. I reserve the right to make the final decision, but I would really appreciate your feedback.

So, here we go:

So, there ya go. Everyone who comments/sends me an email with feedback will be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of the book. Deadline this time tomorrow.


Jim Downey

January 11, 2012, 6:35 pm
Filed under: Art, Humor, Music, SCA, YouTube

Yes, I have a very twisted sense of humor:

Uploaded by “historyteachers“.

And they have a buttload of other vids which may be worth checking out as well.

Jim Downey

Entering Stage Five.*

I recently told someone that Communion of Dreams had just been on the verge of publication when the publisher went belly up.

That’s what I hoped happened. I wasn’t exactly sure if it was true.

* * * * * * *

As noted, last year was . . . rough.

I was left hanging by the Publisher Who Shall Not Be Named, who stopped answering my queries about the status of when CoD was going to be out.

In frustration over that, I threw myself into the other projects I had pending. First, the big sequences of BBTI tests. Then getting Her Final Year ready for publication. Then the launch of HFY. Then working on the complete revamp of the BBTI site, and getting *that* launched.

* * * * * * *

Through it all, from one big project to the next, I hoped to strike paydirt. To assuage my frustration over the seeming failure (once again) with Communion of Dreams with success elsewhere.

Yeah, that didn’t work.

* * * * * * *

I think Gore Vidal was very insightful:

It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.

* * * * * * * *

I recently told someone that Communion of Dreams had just been on the verge of publication when the publisher went belly up.

That’s what I hoped happened. I wasn’t exactly sure if it was true.

Yesterday, with some trepidation, I looked to see whether it was.

Why trepidation? Because if the PWSNBN had gone belly up, then that wasn’t a judgment on the quality of CoD. It wasn’t yet another rejection. Like I said, 2011 was a rough year.

Well, the PWSNBN still exists, in some nominal sense, as they are trying to push a new software product for publishers. But they haven’t published any other books, and seem to only be making a half-hearted effort at supporting the ones they had published previously. So I guess I at least dodged the bullet of having CoD tied up with that mess.

I was a little surprised that I took no real satisfaction in this. Because last year I had a lot of bitterness about the whole thing. Bitterness which spilled over into other areas of my life, as you can plainly see, and at times got wrapped up with my cyclic depression.

Oh, I am completely capable of schadenfreude. It just seems that in this case I am ready to move on.

Got about one-third of the way through proofing the manuscript yesterday. Hope to finish the work today or tomorrow. Still need to do the forward and acknowledgements and so forth. Then it will be ready for a print-proof of the hard copy version.

Yeah, moving on.

Jim Downey

*This, of course.

Perhaps . . .
January 9, 2012, 11:29 am
Filed under: Kindle, Marketing, NPR, Predictions, Publishing, Science Fiction, Writing stuff

I mentioned a month ago that I was going to be moving to self-publish Communion of Dreams. I just wanted to note that we’re actually moving to accomplish that goal – I need to do a close read-through of the prepped text for the hardcopy version, and when that is done then my Good Lady Wife will work to create a html version for the Kindle edition. When that is done, then we’ll ‘launch’ the book officially – perhaps even yet this month. We’ll see how everything comes together, and whether the 35,000+ downloads of the pdf version of the book is an indication that people will actually buy a copy of the book or not.

If not? Perhaps I’ll take up writing ‘paranormal romance’

Jim Downey

Three excerpts.
January 3, 2012, 2:35 pm
Filed under: Failure, Government, Politics, Predictions, Society

Consider first Basham:

Cut to a pleasantly warm evening in Bahrain. My companion, a senior UK investment banker and I, are discussing the most successful banking types we know and what makes them tick. I argue that they often conform to the characteristics displayed by social psychopaths. To my surprise, my friend agrees.

He then makes an astonishing confession: “At one major investment bank for which I worked, we used psychometric testing to recruit social psychopaths because their characteristics exactly suited them to senior corporate finance roles.”

Here was one of the biggest investment banks in the world seeking psychopaths as recruits.

Then Smith:

All corporations are run like this [as dictatorships]. The bonuses are handed out to the people who determine the fate of the CEO. It’s a tiny number of people—ten to 20. There are very few shareholder revolts that work. Most leaders are deposed internally. This is why corporations pay huge bonuses.

And finally Madison:

But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

Then draw your own conclusions.

Jim Downey