You ought to check this out over at Paul Jessup’s website. It’s Ghost Technology from the Sun from PostScripts 12. It’s free! And CC!

From the Review at the Fix Online:
In “Ghost Technology From The Sun,” if she were luckier, Marybeth might be one of the children skating in that Old Master poem, as the adults await the miraculous birth. Instead, when we first see her, she is wishing for a blessing of her own, like the ones her mother and many of the other women of God’s Foot carry in their swelling bellies. She is an innocent magician, a conduit for terrifying words and images from the hungry dead that the Master seeks to propitiate, offering them worship and dark tithes. Her cornhusk dolls rustle with voices, and like Donnie Darko, she is visited by a disturbing rabbit with ambivalent desires and access to gateways which wishes to take her away from her home. Jessup uses beautiful (but not overwrought) language to build a febrile, surreal fantasy world as symbol-laden as a fairy tale and as sensual as a waking childhood nightmare, whose narrator sounds like a little girl rather than a mystic or a philosopher. Its farm setting and moonshiner’s brew of folkloric and Lovecraftian elements is only too appropriate for the harvest season, when holidays like Halloween glut our hunger for horror, and the Day of the Dead and Samhain bring departed spirits to the homes and hearts of the living.
[read the review]

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I know they’re out there. I see their numbers, and their numbers grow. Every now and again something, somewhere pops up and assures me that yes, people are listening.

It’s occurred to me that podcasting is quite a different bird than blogging. Oh, they’re related. But, consider this: I have never recieved a comment on a podcast (other than once, from a local friend… which of course counts, but… well, you know what I mean). I have tried adding little identifiers to the podcasts, experimented with mentioning the address a few times here and there, but when it comes down to it, podcasting vs. blogging is a very thankless job.

But the odd thing is I have lots and lots of subscribers. People are listening, they’re just not responding. There’s a blank wall between what I read and what I’m writing.

It’s part of my Internet Consumable Theory. Yes, CC licensing is great; yes, it gets your work into the hands and minds of people who would never be able to otherwise; yes, it puts power back on the writers’ plate. But, it’s out there. And people can just take it. They don’t have to register (and if you ask them to, they might write some hate mail), they don’t have to pay, they don’t have to comment.

And it seems, at least from perusing the majority of podcasting blogs and my experience, that commenting isn’t the norm. People don’t generally write a review of the podcast.

I realize I’m also podcasting a whole novel; people are going to be judging the book as a whole, and I’m sure folks who haven’t found it up to their liking have dropped me. That’s cool. I’m honestly not out here for adulation. The whole point of Alderpod is to open up my writing process and shed some light into the creative process, which I thought would be a neat way of doing things.

I’m not saying I’m stopping. To the contrary, my subscriber list keeps growing and growing. But I think this also extends to short stories. I have one little short story up on the site that has been viewed or downloaded over three hundred times. Three hundred times! And I’ve had all of a handful of comments. It’s just… well, curious. Clearly since I’m selling fiction to publications, the cause is not lost… but I wonder about the psychological impressions of free craft, free writing, free podcasts. Do we cheapen ourselves by doing it? Do people view us as desperate? Unpublishable? Not worth the time? If my name doesn’t have Tor next to it, is it a lost cause? (Though, that begs the question: when I read a short story in a magazine, or even online, do I contact or comment? Not usually…)

After almost a year of blogging here, I’ve discovered that YES, there is an audience–lots of people will read, lots of people will listen. But if you’re looking for reponse, for reply… well, the jury’s still out on that one.

(As a note, I recall this has been a similar problem for BoingBoingTV–Xeni had mentioned a few months back that there were just a smattering of comments over the whole length of the show’s duration, at that point, a whole year… rather fascinating!)

I said it before–major props to Tor for the free ebook program it recently launched in conjunction with their new website (which will be taking to the skies on th 20th of this month). I’m a staunch believer in the power of the internet, and how important accessibility is to the future of the publishing industry.

Simon Owens over at Bloggasm posted a great article/interview (which has consequently been picked up by BoingBoing among others) about some of the authors involved in the project and how it’s boosted their sales. You can read the full article (which I recommend) “Did Tor’s Free ebooks affect sales?”. I liked the section about how Tobias Buckell was approached by Patrick Nielsen Hayden at a SF convention, too. Not every author out there is a Doctorow, of course, but many are learning that it can make a huge impact on sales to give before you get.

Buckell told me he was asked to participate in the ebook giveaway by Tor editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who approached him about it at an SF convention.

“Patrick and I were at Boskone and Patrick was buying me a drink and asking if I’d be interested in having the book in one of the giveaways to get my name out in front of lots and lots of people,” he said. “I had the paperback of Ragamuffin about to come out soon, and I figured it was a good idea to get my name out there — it couldn’t hurt. I love the idea of giving the first book in a series away. It was an easy ‘yes’ for me. So I checked with my agent to make sure he had no objection. Theoretically Tor owns the electronic rights to it, so they can do whatever they want. But Patrick did check with me and pretty much everyone else was on board with the idea.”

The theory that free ebooks released online will boost print sales is not a new one. Information radicals like Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross have been releasing their books under creative commons licenses — which allow readers to freely pass around the texts without fear of copyright infringement — for years, but it’s only recently that most major publishers have dipped their toes into the pool (though incidentally many of Doctorow’s books have been published by Tor).

Why do some people resist this sort of freebie exposure? I think it goes back to Writing Workshop #1 and my Gollum Theory.

You see, for many writers, what they do is precious. Too precious. And publishers often fortify that, because it makes sense from a business perspective (or at least, it used to). But the more I write, the more I realize that writing is not precious. Words, images, stories: yes, these are precious to a certain extent. And I feel immensely connected to my characters and stories. But most of what you read is a retelling of something else. The copyright cops of our age are putting ownership above creativity, restricting and restraining what we can and cannot say (and where and when we can or cannot say) to the point that the entire idea behind storytelling is being compromised.

It goes back to the whole barding analogy I’ve been using. Bards were storytellers. But their audiences were expected to remember the stories, and to tell them again.

And you know what? Stories changed. A lot. If it weren’t for the changes in storytelling over the centuries, there’d be only Arthur, Gawain, Guenevere (or two or three depending on what poem you read) and a very prominent Cai and Bedevere. No Lancelot. No Tristan. No Elaine. No Round table. No Holy Grail. Yeah, you read that right. We owe all of those to the French, who told and retold, molded, changed, messed with, and altogether revamped the entire Arthurian tale–so much so, that by the time we get back to England with Malory, villains are heroes, and heroes are villains (see: Gawain).

… this is longer than I meant for it to be. And I have digressed entirely into a vague Arthurian tangent. I do this. I apologize.

Tangents aside, Owens article is, I hope, the first of many that explore the fact that “Free” and “profitable” can go hand in hand. We “rebels” of the internet age aren’t going quietly…  and thankfully, big names like Tor and Forge are helping us out, too.

Through the friendly FriendFeed Fantasy Writers Room I discovered that Tor.com is sending free ebooks to registered folks. OMG it’s so awesome to see a huge publication company do this! I really think the wave of the future is with online publication, .pdfs, and the like (not to mention CC licensing…). Yay! Books to read

Not only that, but the wallpaper offerings are truly gorgeous. I’m usually the kind of gal who keeps my wallpaper the same for a while, but I’ve been changing every day.

What are you still here for? Go sign up!