Communion Of Dreams

I know it’s not only me…
February 29, 2012, 1:28 pm
Filed under: Civil Rights, Constitution, Government, Guns, Privacy, Terrorism, Travel

…who finds the absurdity of the TSA to be grating, but every once in a while I come across something that very nicely summarizes the pointlessness and waste of the organization. A friend sent me one such item a little while ago, and I want to share it: TSA: Fail. Go read the whole thing – it’s by someone with 25 years FBI experience, who can safely be described as an expert on both terrorism and security, and who sees the utter uselessness of the security theater currently in place. Here’s one good passage:

Frankly, the professional experience I have had with TSA has frightened me. Once, when approaching screening for a flight on official FBI business, I showed my badge as I had done for decades in order to bypass screening. (You can be envious, but remember, I was one less person in line.) I was asked for my form which showed that I was armed. I was unarmed on this flight because my ultimate destination was a foreign country. I was told, “Then you have to be screened.” This logic startled me, so I asked, “If I tell you I have a high-powered weapon, you will let me bypass screening, but if I tell you I’m unarmed, then I have to be screened?” The answer? “Yes. Exactly.” Another time, I was bypassing screening (again on official FBI business) with my .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, and a TSA officer noticed the clip of my pocket knife. “You can’t bring a knife on board,” he said. I looked at him incredulously and asked, “The semi-automatic pistol is okay, but you don’t trust me with a knife?” His response was equal parts predictable and frightening, “But knives are not allowed on the planes.”

Yeah, like I said, go read the whole thing. And try not to sob at the ridiculousness of this infringement of our privacy and civil liberties.

Jim Downey

Planning ahead.
February 28, 2012, 4:24 pm
Filed under: Amazon, Feedback, Kindle, Marketing, Press, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction

So, I just got word that the local paper, where I used to be a columnist covering the arts, is going to run some variety of story about Communion of Dreams this coming Sunday. This was the reason why I ran the interview Q&A series last week. I don’t yet know exactly what the nature is of the article – it could just be a passing mention, part of some larger column, or a full feature. We’ll just have to wait and see.

But I am going to go ahead and set up a Promotional Day for the Kindle edition of the book – meaning that anyone will be able to download the book for free on that day.

I would like your help: spread the word. Feel free to tell people about this post, or just tell them that the Kindle edition will be free this Sunday. Mention it on your blog, on Twitter, or on Facebook/G+/LJ/Whatever profile. Remember, you don’t even need to own a Kindle in order to get & read the book: there is a free Kindle emulator for almost all computers/tablets/mobile devices.

Please, particularly if you’ve already read the book, and enjoyed it, help me get the word out. It doesn’t cost you anything but a little bit of time. And your friends/readers will appreciate the news of the free book. I mean, who doesn’t appreciate something free, particularly when it is brilliant and entertaining?

Thanks. Seriously, I mean that.

Jim Downey

Good lord.
February 26, 2012, 2:37 pm
Filed under: Civil Rights, Constitution, Government, Privacy, tech, Wall Street Journal

From the Wall Street Journal:

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling overturning the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices has caused a “sea change” inside the U.S. Justice Department, according to FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann.

Mr. Weissmann, speaking at a University of San Francisco conference called “Big Brother in the 21st Century” on Friday, said that the court ruling prompted the FBI to turn off about 3,000 GPS tracking devices that were in use.

Good lord. 3,000.

And that’s how many they were *admitting* to. Do you honestly believe that was all of them? Or that there were 3,000 instances where such routine infringement of the rights of Americans was warranted (well, so to speak)?

And, of course, this is just one small aspect of our increasing surveillance society.

Good lord.

Jim Downey

And finally: it depends.
February 26, 2012, 12:54 pm
Filed under: Marketing, Press, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Writing stuff

Time to close out the question/answer series. Been an interesting experiment, but I’m unsure whether I’ll repeat it in the future, presuming that this won’t be the last time someone wants to ‘interview’ me this way.

Anyway, here’s the last one:

>6. What other projects do you have on deck? Do you intend to do something similar for your next book project or would you prefer to do something wholly different?

A number of people who have read CoD have asked this, and I consider that a good sign. For a couple of years now I’ve been thinking about a prequel, to explore a critical moment in the ‘backstory’ of the current novel. And of course, a lot of people are wondering what happens after the closing revelations of Communion of Dreams, and that’s fun to think about. Partly which direction I go will depend on what the response is to this book – of course, I’d love for it to be a huge success, and for folks to be demanding that I revisit that ‘universe’. If not, I’ll see where inspiration leads me. I certainly have no plans to stop writing.

Perhaps more later today.

Jim Downey

Well, that’s a first.
February 25, 2012, 6:14 pm
Filed under: Feedback, Promotion, Publishing

And a nice one, too. Someone I kinda/sorta know through a political blog ordered a signed copy of CoD a couple of weeks ago. I heard from him this week when he finally had a chance to start reading it:

I’m not able to read it as fast as I’d like, but I’m almost halfway through and you have me riveted. I am really enjoying it so far.

And then last night this:

Finished it. I enjoyed the read. I’m going to digest it and give it the night before I try to put words to pap…email.

I must say, it was a fun read.

I hadn’t heard anything from him today, but just a little while ago he ordered another signed copy, but this time to be inscribed to someone else and sent directly to them. I guess he really does like the book. And that’s the first time someone has bought a copy for someone else (that I know of). A nice compliment.

Jim Downey

February 25, 2012, 10:00 am
Filed under: Kindle, Marketing, Press, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Writing stuff

And in the penultimate entry of the interview Q/A series:

5. Give me a sense of both the pitfalls and encouraging moments encountered in process of publishing this book – there was a bit of a false start previously, right? You embraced several means of delivery – traditional ones but also free PDF downloads and subsequent Kindle editions. What benefits have you seen from using multiple platforms and how do you feel such an approach fits with the current state of publishing and the written word?

Twice this book was almost published in the conventional sense. The first time it made it through the submissions process for a large publishing house, to the imprint which handled some offbeat science fiction. At the very end of that process the executive editor told me she liked the book, but that they had decided to “go a different direction” in the coming year. I found out later that that meant the imprint had been shut down as part of the conglomeration which owned the publishing house consolidating the whole business in reaction to market conditions. The second time a small start-up “geek fiction” press wanted to publish the book, and just as we were wrapping up contract negotiations the publisher stopped communicating with me. Well, they went under – and the book before mine was the last one they published. In both those cases, I was elated to think that Communion of Dreams was going to be in print, and went through the whole process of preparing the manuscript and getting it ready, making changes requested by the publisher – only to have it fall through at the last moment through no fault of mine. That was hugely disappointing.

After the second instance, I just couldn’t face going through the whole process again of trying to get a conventional publisher. It’s a slog, with little or no predictability and huge delays. But we’d been through the experience of getting Her Final Year self-published, and I knew what was involved with that. I decided that since I had a manuscript ready which had been prepped for publication, that I might as well just publish it myself. I could not do any worse than the two previous near-publication experiences had been.

The free PDF downloads were a way to build a base of readers, and there were in total some 35,000 downloads of that version. Whether or not that would help or hurt sales of the Kindle edition (or the paperback one) is pure speculation. I guess we’ll see.

I don’t have a lot to add to that, but do want to note that the local paper is tentatively planning on running some kind of story related to this series of questions on March 11. It might just be a mention, or part of a larger piece, or possibly even a review or feature – we’ll just have to wait and see. When it runs, I will be offering another “promotional day” when people can download the Kindle version of Communion of Dreams for free – so keep your eyes open!

Jim Downey

Revenge of the nerds (and another prediction comes true).
February 24, 2012, 12:09 pm
Filed under: Augmented Reality, Expert systems, Google, Predictions, Science Fiction, tech

This news item is making the rounds:

What’s next? Perhaps throngs of people in thick-framed sunglasses lurching down the streets, cocking and twisting their heads like extras in a zombie movie.

That’s because later this year, Google is expected to start selling eyeglasses that will project information, entertainment and, this being a Google product, advertisements onto the lenses. The glasses are not being designed to be worn constantly — although Google engineers expect some users will wear them a lot — but will be more like smartphones, used when needed, with the lenses serving as a kind of see-through computer monitor.

Well, they aren’t contact lenses, but they are very much exactly the sort of ‘cyberwear’ tech that I stipulate as standard for the world of Communion of Dreams. And as I mentioned four years ago.

The future’s so bright, you gotta have goggles. Complete with a primitive A-series expert called “Android.”

Jim Downey