I’m in that limbo between projects right now. I’ve finished a working draft of the third Cross book, and I’m waiting for edits of the second in the Cross series, The Dead Hamlets. I’ve been relaxing a little — see my earlier beach post — but I’m not the type to relax too long. So I decided to fill my down time with working on another book project. I’ve been thinking for a while about turning my angel Azrael gunslinger stories into a book, so I’ve started working on that. Today I finished the first draft of the fourth angel Azrael story (the third one will be out in a bit), and I’ve been outlining the book as a whole. I’ve no idea what I’m going to do with it, but it doesn’t matter. At this point, it’s all about relaxing and having fun. Nothing like apocalyptic angel westerns to do that!
I just realized my first Cross novel, The Mona Lisa Sacrifice, is eligible for this year’s Aurora Awards. The Aurora Awards are often called Canada’s equivalent of the U.S.’s Hugo awards for science fiction and fantasy, although apparently that comparison is a contentious one. At any rate, The Mona Lisa Sacrifice is eligible for an award, so feel free to nominate it if you’re the type who likes to nominate things. Otherwise carry on with your Internet browsing.
Details on how to nominate are on the Auroras website.
A list of eligible works is on the Can Spec Fic List.
A call to represent western Canada is on the VCON site (the Vancouver convention is where the Auroras will be awarded this year).
OK, back to writing.
My friend and fellow writer Brian Panhuyzen is writer in residence right now over at Open Book Toronto. He’s writing about DRM, otherwise known as digital rights management. It’s a contentious issue sure to sunder friendships and end marriages, but then what issue online doesn’t?
In his first post, Brian comes out in favour of DRM:
For me as a writer, DRM is a way of making it difficult to distribute my work without authorization. With the widespread distribution of music and movies and now books via the Internet, the public is clearly without conscience when it comes to disregarding copyright. In this climate, the worst thing you can do is make it easy. If I’m reading a book and loving it, I can email you and tell you that you must read it – but how much better if I simply attach the unprotected ebook to my email message, and in minutes, you can be reading it too. DRM complicates this process by inserting a critical step, a mild but important impediment, to the process: you need to software unlock the file, to remove the DRM. While it’s not terribly difficult to do, it does require a certain degree of technical savvy and comfort. And it’s illegal.
I’m usually all for consumer rights, but I lean more toward Brian’s side in this case. Almost everyone I know routinely downloads pirated movies or watches them on streaming sites. The same used to be true of music, but I’ve found that most of the people I know now pay for music. Why? Is it because it’s easier to buy than steal music? Is it the low price points, which movies have yet to match? (In fact, both movies and books are creeping up in price, which will probably lead to more piracy.)
I want it to be easy for readers to find my work online. I want it to be easy for readers to buy my work online. I want it to be easy for readers to read my works on whatever device they want, when they want. But I don’t want it to be easy for people to steal my work. It’s hard enough to time find time to write as it is. The less money coming in from my writing, the less time I have to write because I’ll have to work at other things to pay the bills.
Don’t like DRM? I’m afraid we’re stuck with it until people change their behaviour.
There are many things that drive me crazy. Other people in grocery stores. The willingness of everyone to divide themselves into left vs. right — can’t we all be ambidextrous? Netflix Canada vs. Netflix USA. But one of the things that drives me craziest is stories ignoring reality just to lazily advance a plot point.
I’m not talking fantasy stories here a la Game of Thrones. I’m talking stories that are supposed to be more or less realistic. Usually TV shows. TV shows are serial offenders.
Last night I was watching a show that I started out enjoying but am slowly growing grumpy about because of this. I like the characters a lot, I love the setting, I find it a good mix of humour and action (and no, I won’t mention the name here as it’s beside the point). But it’s increasingly presenting simply unbelievable scenes to reveal some plot point, get the character from A to B, etc. Last night’s episode involved a police officer helping a suspect in a major crime escape because… well, because the character needed to be somewhere else. That was really the only explanation the script offered. There were no real considerations of the impact of this on the officer’s career, why the other dozen officers at the scene didn’t notice, and so on. It was so completely unbelievable that it threw me out of the show. I skimmed the rest of it and seriously considered giving it up, as I do with most TV shows after a few episodes. Don’t even get me started on the bad guy hiding out of frame in an otherwise empty room, ready to throw a sucker punch….
I know TV writing is hard. There are crazy deadlines you have to meet, you’re always making up the story on the fly, and so on. But is it really worth taking a shortcut if you know it’s going to cost you viewers?
Or maybe I’m just turning into a grumpy old man, like one of those TV characters.