Wednesday, January 31, 2018

#steempulp Digest: January 2018

would love too see someone make a pulprev variant of this

Our boys and girls have been hitting blockchain-based blogging platform Steemit pretty hard this month. In theory it's a smooth way to get money for good content, but in practice it's this 90s-style Wild West of bots and reposts where occasionally you get targeted by someone with a massive amount of influence and get hundreds of dollars worth of cryptocurrency. A couple of our folks have gotten big real-money payouts already, which explains the motivation, and nobody's had to put money in, just prose.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Geek Gab, Nick Cole & Jason Anspach Talk Galaxy's Edge & How To Sell Your Book!

Looking for good and proven information on how to sell your stuff? Put on this episode of Geek Gab and listen from the two men responsible for the best disruption of mainstream science fiction to date. You cannot go wrong with the methods that they've used to make their Galaxy's Edge series the hottest independent science fiction in the West- and soon the hottest science fiction published anywhere in the world!

This is all about the hustle, fellow writers, something we can all benefit from so tune in today and have your notepads ready!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

How Poor Worldbuilding Destroyed Talentless Nana

The more fantastic a story, the greater the need for justification. To write a technothriller about a covert ops team hunting down terrorists, all you have to do is say that the government created new counterterrorist organisation with the best training and technology to pursue evildoers, and a reader will happily lap it up. But if a story has strong fantasy or sci fi elements, writers need to go out of their way to create a world where their story can plausibly take place.
Let's take the original Star Wars trilogy. The franchise rests on several core pillars: the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance that opposes it; the existence of many alien species with roughly compatible biochemistry and language, terraformed worlds and faster-than-light spaceships; and most of all, the Force. Take any of these away and you won't have Jedi fighting Stormtroopers with super Force powers, Han Solo smuggling contraband across the galaxy, Jabba the Hutt taking Leia as a slave, the Death Star, or Ewoks.
Worldbuilding goes more than just creating a cool setting and exotic societies. You are building the axes mundi, the world pillars, that make the story, characters, setting, and events possible. When done right, the worldbuilding enables spectacular stories and compelling characters to come to life. But when the worldbuilding is shaky and half-hearted, it undercuts the story it is meant to support.
Case in point: Talentless Nana.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Cheah on GeekGab!

Yesterday I had the great honour and pleasure to appear on GeekGab yesterday to discuss Steemit and the Pulp Revolution with Daddy Warpig and John McGlynn. Alas, Internet reception is spotty in my area: there was a lot of static and I got cut out halfway through the interview for a few minutes.

Regardless, here are the main takeaways from the interview, plus some thoughts I didn't have time to articulate:

Friday, January 19, 2018

Steemit & the Pulp Revolution, Live on Geek Gab this Saturday!

Tomorrow, at 7pm Eastern Standard Time, our own Ben Cheah will be on Geek Gab with Daddy Warpig and Dorrinal to talk Steemit and the Pulp Revolution. You don't want to miss this one. Catch it live if you can, and if you can't then hit that Watch Later button to toss it on to that playlist for you to review at your leisure after the fact.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Shanghai Songbird Part 5

A volley of shots rang out. A fiery hammer slammed into Lee’s abdomen. He coughed, going straight down. His vision blurred, his chest burned, wet heat squirted out of the wound. He saw the Songbird turn and run. He raised the Nambu and fired.
She pointed her weapon over her shoulder and squeezed off a couple of rounds. A bullet slapped the sidewalk next to Lee's face. Flinching, Lee pointed at her and pressed the trigger.
No more ammo.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Shanghai Songbird Part 4

“I’m still not giving you a gun,” Wong said.
Lee blew on his cold hands. “I didn’t ask for one.”
“I can hear the thought in your head.”
“Hey, we’re just seeing who shows up tonight. No need for shooting, right?”

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Shanghai Songbird Part 3

Picking Tang out was easy. He was the only customer in the teahouse with a contingent of heavily-muscled goons. They strolled in with the self-assurance of tigers, and the other customers either greeted them or looked down into their cups. Tang and three men entered the sole private room in the teahouse. The remaining four gangsters stood watch outside.
Lee took a final sip of tea. He’d been sitting here since the teahouse opened this morning. It had only been two days after the shooting, but if the gangsters had wanted him dead they’d have done something about him. That meant they weren’t opposed to talking.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Shanghai Songbird Part 2

There was just enough light inside the nightclub to see the stage and nowhere enough to peer into the hearts of men. Lee placed a tiny mirror on the table, no larger than a compact makeup case, trying to make the best of the dim candlelight behind him.
Wong didn’t mind. But in their corner booth, the policeman had a good view of the door. Lee was facing the wrong way, by choice. Shanghai might be an international city but mixed bloods always drew attention. Better if people didn’t see his face.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Shanghai Songbird Part 1

Thomas Lee had read too many Western pulps to know how this would end.

“Miss Ouyang,” he said, “I sympathise with your situation. I really do. But this looks like a job for the police.”

Ouyang Li Yan didn’t frown. She was too glamorous for that. Her face melted under her thin mask of mascara and rouge, her eyes widened, and her full, luscious lips opened just so. She bit her lower lip, and shook her head.

“I tried. They just laughed at me. You know what they said? ‘A pretty woman like you will always have dashing young men throwing themselves at you.’”

He snorted, tapping his burned-out cigarette into a cheap glass ashtray. “I heard you’re…close…to the Commissioner.”

She smiled at his almost-feigned delicateness. “We used to be.”

Amazing. The gossip rags were on the money this time. “That’s a shame. But you’re a well-known woman in this city, Miss Ouyang. Someone in the force would want to help—”

Another, firmer, shake of the head. A sad, bitter chuckle. “Mr. Lee, this is Shanghai. There’s no police here. Just crooks or killers in khaki.”


Saint Valentinus of Terni was a priest, a healer, and a hieromartyr. As a priest, Saint Valentine offered aid and succor to Christians in a time when persecution of Christians was a long-standing policy of the Roman Empire. As a healer, he restored vision to the blind daughter of Judge Asterius, who had held him under house arrest. When taken before the Prefect of Rome and Emperor Claudius II, he refused to recant his faith. He was tortured, beaten with clubs, and on 14 February 269, executed by decapitation. That day became the Feast of Saint Valentine.
Today, we call it Valentine's Day.
In honour of Saint Valentine, the SteemPulp community cordially invites all Steemit fiction writers to participate in our first open call: SWORDS OF SAINT VALENTINE.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Mark the 27th On Your Calendars, Folks!

At the end of today's episode of Geek Gab, Daddy Warpig announced an upcoming episode that as many of you as possible should strive to catch live. It's on the 27th of this month, and it not only features our own Ben Cheah (talking about Steemit) but Nick Cole & jason Anspach (co-authors of the Galaxy's Edge series) will be on to discussion their business plan for making this breakout hit series happen.

Ben's talked up Steemit plenty, so I refer you to his posts here and at his blog on that topic. (Just waiting to be approved, and then I'll join the party.) That's not to be dismissive; he's written plenty on why Steemit is the place to be if you're looking to hustle and win online using a blog, and I'm not big on reinventing the wheel.

But, to those following Nick & Jason, hearing about how they not only figured out how work Amazon's system to their benefit, but also how they used a specific strategy to attract and retain an audience (and the psychology behind that process) is of immense value to those of us looking to find ways to pay the bills by writing. (Yes, buying mountains with the proceeds is also nice, but not every one can be Larry Correia.)

As for that episode, here you go. Enjoy. It features Jon del Arroz, talking about all of his recent shenanigans, and related stuff.

Monday, January 8, 2018

What Do Otaku Readers Really Want?

The Japanese publishing industry is getting predictable. Every other week, there's a brand new series starring a Japanese high schooler who is mysteriously transported to a fantasy world. There he promptly gains overwhelming powers, the antagonism of the local Demon King, and the affections of a harem of cute, buxom, mature, demihuman and underage girls. Harem hijinks, massive explosions, and indecisive fumbling and awkward stuttering follows. And along with these come the inevitable light novel/manga/anime/movie/game/mobile adaptations.

Exaggeration? Probably, but not by much. As JD Cowan notes in two separate blog posts, pandering to otaku makes easy money. While he was writing about the context of anime, the Japanese publishing and anime industries tend to be tightly integrated. If a manga or light novel becomes a bestseller, an anime adapation will follow, and vice versa.

In July 2016 I saw this phenomenon first hand in Sapporo. Strolling into a Kinokuniya, I took this photograph:

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Welcome to the New Pulp Age!

The other day, one of the best users on YouTube put this out on his Twitter feed.:

He is not wrong. This is the Second Coming of the Pulps. The difference is that the hustle is even harder now than it was the first time around, both in competing attracts and in the scope and scale of the playing field (truly global). The role of the pulp magazine in the first age is not what it is now; the hustle requires that we reconsider, reconfigure, and reappraise to actually pay bills doing this.

The good news is that the means to get stories to readers is easier than ever. The bad news is that attracting and retaining that audience is harder than ever. The gatekeeper formerly had the incentive, the means, and the motive to play middleman properly; by curating what he thought sold best, he paid bills while performing a useful function that benefited the most people. That's not the case now, and it hasn't been for a decade or more, so the entire business has to change to remain functional.

This new age of the Pulps has to go learn from the men who made the first age happen: the publishers who ran their hustle so hard that they became the dominant outlets of the age. It's all well and good to look at the writers who made their mark and influenced the generations to succeed them, because without that spirit there will be nothing of substance for an audience to enjoy. The reason for the look into the publishers is to see how they solved the problem of identifying an audience, locating them, and marketing to them; without that, no amount of substance will be enough to pay the bills.

This is not idle talk. Nick Cole and Jason Anspach have a working solution for the current new age. They did their homework. The frequency of releases parallels the publication schedule of the pulp magazines of old, minus the monthly anthology aspect to many of them. This is similar to the way The Shadow attracted and retained its long-time loyal readership via its bi-weekly magazine. That's our parallel; if you want to pay bills with your writing, you're going to have to figure out--as Nick and Jason did--how to apply the old models to the new circumstance.

I'm talking about this, in these terms, because if the Pulp Revolution is to become something more than an online literary fashion then it has to produce real results in the real world in real terms for real people. That means it has to produce paydays for writers, and those paydays have to bring enough to let the writer pay some or all of his bills, which means that the writer has to also be a businessman. The path to future success is going to look more like iterating upon Larry Correia, Nick Cole, and so on than doing the old-and-busted "traditional publishing" route of agents and publishers.

And no, it's not as easy to accept as it is to say. It's also a work in progress, as folks are figuring out what works and figure out the hows and whys, so I invite my peers here and elsewhere to contribute to the conversation. As this is about entertainment in fiction, cooperating towards the end of providing proven procedures for finding and building an audience who wants to give you their money so you can buy groceries, pay the bills, and occasionally take a holiday is something we can all get behind.

And as this year goes on, I expect that we'll see a couple of procedures bear out often enough to be proven beyond a doubt; if you're wanting in on the game, get ready for when that moment hits, because it'll be a launch window you don't want to miss.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Front Sight

There are three of them. Brown cardboard targets, man size. There's a fourth figure, slightly shorter, in front of and between the second and the third targets.

His mind tells him a different story. The targets are Thugs One, Two and Three, black-masked and leather jacketed, screaming obscenities and waving guns. The last one is Jane. Sweet Jane with straight dark hair and heartbreak blue eyes.