Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Feedback, Hospice, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Society | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, dementia, direct publishing, feedback, free, Her Final Year, hospice, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, memoir, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction, thanks
There are a couple of new reviews up on Amazon which I’d like to share. The first is for Her Final Year:
A story worthy of five stars but I found it kind of difficult to keep straight, which family and patient they were talking about. The author did a good job of writing about the difficulties faced by the family caregivers. I hand it to them for staying with a very difficult task for a very long time.
The second is for Communion of Dreams:
James Downey has created a novel that compares favorably with the old masters of science fiction.Our universe would be a better place were it more like the one he has imagined and written about so eloquently.Thank, sir, you for this wonderful escape from reality.
To show that appreciation, this coming week both books will be available for free download, but at two different times. The Kindle edition of Her Final Year will be free Monday through Wednesday, and the Kindle edition of Communion of Dreams will be free Thursday and Friday.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Connections, Health, Hospice, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion | Tags: Alzheimer's, blogging, care-giving, dementia, direct publishing, Ether One, free, game, health, Her Final Year, hospice, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, memoir, Michael Thomsen, promotion, The New Yorker
OK, a bit flip, there. Sorry. This actually sounds like a really interesting game, and the people who are involved with it seem to understand about the limitations inherent in it:
Ether One, a first-person puzzle game made by a six-person team at White Paper Games, in Manchester, England, is about the slow dissolution of the brain. The game casts the player as an employee of a futuristic memory-retrieval company called the Ether Institute of Telepathic Medicine. Your job is to dive into the mind of Jean Thompson, a sixty-nine-year-old woman diagnosed with dementia, and retrieve a series of lost memories. Using scans of the woman’s brain, the Ether Institute reconstructs 3-D simulations of what remains of her memory. Players must reassemble the story of her life using the oddly alien artifacts (the symbolic significance and basic operation of which remain a mystery) left behind in the fraying simulation of her past home and work places.
* * *
Ether One is built around a central control room from which players access the four main areas of Jean’s past—a seaside town in England, an industrial mine, a processing factory, and a lighthouse overlooking the ocean. Each area is filled with hundreds of tchotchkes, mementos, and mundanities that could hold some long-forgotten significance. Players are asked to “collect” the memories and are limited to carrying only one object at a time. At any point in the gameplay, they can instantaneously teleport back to the control room, which is lined with empty shelves to hold anything they collect. As a player, you’re never sure what’s important and what isn’t, so the system encourages you to take everything.
This hoarding is repaid with periodic puzzles, such as a door with a numeric lock whose code can be found on the bottom of a previously collected mug. As the game progresses, these puzzles increase in complexity, as does the array of random objects filling the shelves. The collection gradually overwhelms the player’s ability to remember just where all of these things came from and why they seemed important enough to retrieve. Why did I bring this plate all the way back here? Whose hat is this supposed to be again? It’s a tidy simulation of the cognitive degradation of dementia.
The author of the piece, Michael Thomsen, has first-hand experience with a family member who suffered with dementia. Here’s his concluding insight about Ether One:
Playing Ether One, I can’t say I felt any new illuminations about the disease. Most of the things I watched my grandmother go through were missing in its simulation, but I was reminded of the helplessness I felt. After solving the first few puzzles in Ether One, I realized that I’d been storing way too many items back in the hub world. It reminded me of my grandmother’s stuffed bookshelves in her nursing home room—old books, half-used perfume bottles, porcelain ferrets, a piece of Bohemian glass I’d given her once—we’d kept as much as we could when she moved in, trying to guess what might mean something to her and what might be lost for good. If video games indulge in a fantasy of objects—swords, spaceships, and the like—it’s one that’s hard to translate into a room filled with forgotten things. In Ether One, I found that the distance between these seemingly incompatible worlds lessened just a little. Even though I couldn’t quite forget myself inside its artifice, it was comforting to have the space to try.
May be worth checking out.
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!