July 17th, 2010


OK, This Meme Is Officially Not Funny

Fun? Or Dumb?

I already derisively talked about the raging torrent of amusement and abuse being heaped on the I Write Like... website. Further testing revealed that the Declaration of Independence was written like H.P. Lovecraft. And a directory listing of ZIP files was penned by the likes of Ian Fleming.

The Windows .007 Operating System? Well, the I Write Like... website took directory output like this and said its writing style was like Ian Fleming.

So we're not talking sophistication here, folks.

And I was already annoyed on Friday, listening to NPR's All Things Considered, where they briefly interviewed the guy who wrote the program. They didn't ask any hard questions about writing or literature, focusing more on the Internet explosion about the web site and that even NPR memos could be "said" to have been written in the style of famous authors. There and in another softball interview from the AP, the programmer compares his algorithm to spam filters. Great. Wonderful. Your writing can be judged by a souped up spam filter.

But Maybe That's Not So Far From The Truth

Spam, that is. Today I was greeting by comments and links to a piece on Making Light which says that the system is now being helpful and providing links to a self-publishing vanity press.

I have two words for these people: FUCK YOU.

Is That All?

New writers are often paranoid about letting other people, including editors they want to sell their work to (!), see their work. Afraid that someone will steal their work. For the most part, that's a pretty baseless fear. Editors get enough submissions as it is. To reject something, plagiarize it and pass it off as their own or someone else's and hope you don't notice? That takes a helluva lot more work than just buying it. That rejection your perfect prose gets? That means the editor doesn't want it. That's all. It doesn't even mean it's bad, just that on this day this editor for this publication doesn't want to buy this story. End of story. Send it to the next market and work on your next story.

But now this scammy "I Write Like..." website has been Hoovering the blogosphere for days and happily accepting millions of words from writers, new and old, all over the world. And given the link to someone described as by one commenter as an "unquestionably-fraudulent" vanity press purveyor, it does give me some pause.

What are the odds that someone less scrupulous than you or I would sift through all those text submissions and look for gems to profit from? And I don't mean trying to track down the original writer and sell them vanity services. In most cases they don't have the name, just an IP address of the sender. But just steal the work.

Nonsense, you say. No one does that. Sure. No one nice does that. But we've already established these people as scammy scummy bastards. So now how does your theory stand up? Hmm?

I do wish that NPR and AP had looked at this as "news" and done their job seriously. In the old days, the newspaper people had a phrase for such investigative reporting. It was called "follow the money." And you can quote me on that.

Dr. Phil

Honoring The First 300 WOTF Winners And Others

What's In The Box, Dr. Phil? Oh PLEASE Tell Me What's In The Box?!

Stopped by the P.O. Box in town as part of my normal Saturday errands and there was a key to parcel locker #5. The white box inside nearly filled the locker, and as #5 was on the bottom, it took a few seconds to get fingers purchased on said box and pull it out. Oh look, the heavy box is from Galaxy Press -- I know what this is. (grin)

L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future: The First 25 Years

My Contributor's Copy Of The WOTF Coffee Table Book

Quite some months ago the Writers of the Future people sent out a call for anyone in the WOTF winners community interested in submitting comments about what the WOTF contest means to them, in connection with putting together a coffee table book of pictures and essays and history of the first twenty-five years of WOTF, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. Naturally being shy about expressing myself, to say nothing of having been a Published Finalist in WOTF XXIV, I of course sent in a short essay. Because of that, I got a free contributor's copy of the finished book in lieu of cash payment. Makes me happy. (grin)

Besides my piece on page 233, it looks like one of my pictures of Al Bogdan signing the WOTF XXIV anthology at the Event also made the book:

More About This Later

The official release will be at the 26th WOTF Awards on 28 August 2010 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

So far I haven't seen this for pre-order anywhere. But I should note that this impressive book uses very heavy paper stock -- and that if you order it online, get free shipping. (wry-grin) I know both the publisher Galaxy Press and Amazon routinely offer free shipping on orders of $25 or more -- and the list price on the dust jacket is $44.95.

I think that most readers of SF/F will prefer the annual anthologies for the stories. An expensive coffee table book isn't for everyone and contest hopefuls would no doubt be best off reading more SF/F -- buying this book isn't going to give you an "in" into winning the contest. For that you have to write a great story. (double-word-score-grin)

To those involved in the Contest, this is like a reunion -- for everyone it's a collection about new and notable authors stretching back to the early days of modern 20th century SF/F (in the case of the judges) and including a big chunk of my LJ Friends list. (happy grin) The more I read about the history of the Writers of the Future contest, the more amazing it seems that (a) it got started, (b) it has kept going and (c) it has done so well. I've barely made a dent in reading the whole thing.

As for the contest itself, the next contest deadline, for those eligible, is Thursday 30 September 2010. Yeah, I'm a nudge. College professors are like that.

Dr. Phil