Legacy this, Legacy that.

There is a lot of talk in my industry about “legacy publishers.” Basically, those would be the old-style big publishers that have brick-and-mortar offices. Sure, they use word processing and Photoshop and format books via software. But just as online retailers are able to cut costs by not having actual retail space, the newer publishers are entirely digital and online. Many small presses have sprung up–some to fill gaps in what the legacy publishers no longer carry (cozy mysteries anyone?) as newer software and tools make them the equal to legacy publishers in all but reach. And, of course, there are the Indie writers, many of them self-publishing at the same quality as the big publishers. The legacy publishers seem to have contracted themselves into mainly carrying the “Sure Thing” and big name authors. Explosive growth is happening in other segments of the industry.

The same thing is happening in film. New software, new tools–drones have replaced helicopter shots for so many things!–have made the little film studios and even individuals competitive with the big names in the industry. AI and software tools plus more powerful computers are giving the big special effects houses a run for their money.

And then there’s legacy media. Just like when the television took over most of the media and ended the Golden Age of Radio, the internet is making the legacy television media take an insignificant back seat.Young people nowadays have no idea how broadcast TV news shaped public opinion.There were no alternatives. They were the news, period. But today anyone with a phone and the internet can now be a broadcast journalist. Therefore alternative views can sneak–nay, streak–past the information censors. Case in point: Joe Rogan’s following severely eclipses a television-sized audience.

We live in interesting times.

And Odd Form of Memory

My husband Brian and I have very different types of memories. I like to think I am fairly normal: long term and short-term memories like the average person, with occasional lapses more due to my not hearing things, over-commitment, or dyslexia that only make it seem like I forgot something. I write a lot of lists and concentrate on having good habits. I get a lot done for someone my age as I am highly organized. I can keep an entire novel I’m editing in my head simultaneously so I am no mental midget.

But Brian…Brian is in a class all by himself. He only seems to have a long-term memory. Whatever goes into his brain just stays there. This means he recalls long strings of numbers for things like credit cards, replacement part designations, phone numbers from when he was a child–the list is endless. It also means he is selective about what he mentally ingests, especially images. Disturbing scenes and photos stick to his brain like long strings of numbers, so he does not watch a lot of TV or movies, and prefers practical “how-to” videos on YouTube.

Last week we had what was, for him, and eye-opening conversation. He had never even heard or conceived of the concept of a short-term memory. It was alien to him. For Brian, entropy of thought was unthinkable. For the average person it’s the norm unless we study to intentionally put information into our long-term memories. Brian has no problem doing complex math in his head, but this–the fact that parts of other people’s thoughts might have a short half-life and deteriorate? He could not wrap his brain around this. He does have what they call a “working memory” where he can intentionally discard things not pertinent to what he is no longer working on but that’s not the same thing.

We are both 68 years old, and he has had a few lapses in his perfect long-term memory, so as that progresses I will be teaching him how to write things down and remember things like a normal person. But Brian at half-speed, mentally, will still be able to run rings around the average person’s ability to recall things. I’m not too worried about it and, now that he knows I will teach him an alternate system, neither is he.

A rescue

Why yes, we do have another cat besides our rescue kitten,Tucker: Snickers. And yesterday we almost lost her.

Three nights ago she did not come home. Two days ago, due to perhaps divine intervention (and I am of the opinion that “coincidences” are when God decides to remain anonymous), Brian felt strongly to look for her in the neighbor’s crawl space. The door to that crawl space, which is directly across from our house, was open the day before Snickers went missing. Now it was closed.

She was in there, with no food or water, and if she’d stayed locked in there overnight when it was in the teens she might not have survived.

She is -my- cat but she spent the next day letting him know how grateful she was, following him everywhere, sitting next to him, and rubbing against him affectionately.

Then she snuggled into my lap, purring and warm.

The Year in Review

Many of my writer friends do a “year in review” post around this time of year.

But I’m an editor, not a writer–or at least I don’t write all that often. So I just want to say that my clients are awesome and I worked on some fantastic books as their editor this year. I mostly developmentally edit novels for new writers in the same way that Abyss & Apex very often publishes new writers in the short form. Some of these authors go indie; some of them submit to major publishers. Other client’s novels end up getting picked up by small presses. This last path has the nasty side effect of them having the small press edit the books from that point on, but since I am mainly here to help their careers that makes me happy. Poorer, but happier! And I still get mentioned in dedications and acknowledgments so that’s always nice.

The inescapable fact is that if you want to submit something to the major publishers or the small presses, you’ll give yourself your the best shot at publication if you’ve had at it professionally edited first. And getting your work noticed as an indie author is hard enough without catching the errors that are invisible to you in your own work. So hire an editor!

I look forward to a new year of making your writing shine, and adding to my bookcase of contributor copies for the projects I’ve edited.

May your New Year be grammatically correct, contain awesome characters, and no plot holes.

First pass on a complex editing project done!

Whoo-whee that was a job and a half, but when we’ve finished the second pass on this novel it’s going to shine. Without going into names or too much detail, here were the main issues:

  • The novel has a braided plot, like The Empire Strikes Back–where half the action is Luke training with Yoda on Daggoba, and half is Han and the crew being betrayed on Cloud City. Except in this case the two halves of the story were 200 years apart, on various spaceships and two planets. How to make that clockwork run smoothly took serious thought for two weeks.
  • It comes across as a tragedy (it’s not). The struggle was to keep it readable until the hope shows up in some slam-bang reveals.
  • A really boring-but-necessary character (just one, the rest were fantastic) who made me want to skim when he showed up.

All are fixed if my client likes my suggestions.

I love my work.

Learning thankfulness

Leading up to Thanksgiving I was thinking about the fact that we set aside a day to be thankful, and although that’s nice we should always be thankful.

There has been a lot of noise lately. Things are changing rapidly, too rapidly to take it all in. So we focus on the problems

Listen to an orchestra playing a familiar symphony and perhaps a single instrument is off. You will probably concentrate on the out-of-tune player, but you’ll miss out on a symphony of perfect players. Your focus is lost to the disharmony.

Humans are built to escape pain, to protect ourselves from the assassin in the crowd. We are wired to hear the discord so we can escape it. We naturally concentrate on what is negative.

It takes a conscious effort to hear the symphony in spite of the discordant player.

Whether it is grand players on the world stage or opportunities to better ourselves in our personal lives, we should always strive to find things to be thankful for.

The symphony of life is always playing. We just have to learn to hear it.

Be thankful.

Signed,

A friend who wishes to remain anonymous

Having fun with editing

There are a few writers who have provided me with such consistent quality stories that I’ve told them they can submit things for Abyss & Apex even if we are not open to submissions. One of those writers is the prolific James Van Pelt, who is no stranger to A&A’s pages.

Jim sent me something that I thought needed work, and we went through the rewrite process.(Note to writers: if an editor asks for a rewrite you might not get the sale but odds are higher that you will.) On the third rewrite we had what was still his story but cleared up things I felt needed done. I bought it. And he paid me a vast compliment and said, “Wonderful working with you on it. I haven’t been in a writers’ critique group for a long time. I forgot how refreshing a practiced eye commenting on a story can be.”

That’s me: A practiced eye.

Wampum and whomp ’em

Let’s talk about the devaluation of the dollar and how it is going to affect us. (Look, I’m older and in “instruct the young folks” mode. Humor me, as this s relatively short.) Financial currency like the US dollar is simply an agreed upon means for exchange. It has no intrinsic value. Humans must say, “this has value, I can use it to exchange for goods and services.” Essentially, we’ve made it up as a convenience.

Scarcity stabilizes, or “backs” a currency. If we used river pebbles for currency, for instance, there would be no way to set a value because everyone could just go get more pebbles. The backing resource has be rare. The example that comes to my mind is because I grew up on Long Island, where the Montaukett nation of Amerinds (as well as tribal nations from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island) made wampum beads out of the rare purple interiors of Quahog clams. Wampum was treated as currency in most of the Eastern native American tribes. It had no intrinsic value other than consensus, and was back by it’s rarity.

When a currency falls apart it is often because it is no longer rare. Governments may attempt to print their way to prosperity, and producing lots and lots of currency, but this lack of rarity dilutes the backing asset. With a fiat (fiat means “because I say so”) currency it becomes a matter of believing in the backer’s word.

Printing too much currency works for a while. Unsuspecting people get their money, do their business and don’t realize that the money is getting less and less valuable as they go. It’s a gradual slide, hard to see.

People wake up to the reality when in the span of a few days the cost of a cup of coffee goes from two bucks to 200 bucks. This can happen when large amounts of the “believe us, it’s good!” fiat currency gets returned to a country when the rest of the world no longer wants it because they’ve lost faith in the word of the backers. This happened to the Wiemar Republic. It happened to Zimbabwe. I happened to Venezuela. And there is absolutely no reason it cannot happen to America.

Understand this: We tend to get the explanation backwards. We call it hyper-inflation, but it’s really hyper-devaluation. The cost of the cup of coffee did not change, nor did its value. The money lost value. In simpler terms, in this situation the coffee is backed by more stability and scarcity than the currency.

I’m getting to my point, I promise.

The reason people invest in precious metals, land, original art, and blockchain currency (Bitcoin etc.) is because governments can’t just print more of it. Rare items’ values are like the cup of coffee: stable and predictable. When the fiat currency gets blown asunder these things maintain their value.

I’m tell anyone to buy anything. I don’t care how you invest.Personally, I’m buying actual coffee.

But I’d be less than kind not to warn you that fiat currencies like the Federal Reserve Note usually, historically, only last about 50 years. And it looks like time is running out.