About Me

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Independent author and amateur beefcake

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Kobo Writing Life

Sometimes I think I'm the new mascot or salesman for Kobo but they seem to get a lot of what ereaders, both the hardware, Kobo Touch, and the people, want.

They're starting Kobo Writing Life at the end of June.  This is a place were independent authors can get their books published, via Kobo, in 170 countries, while getting, they say, a healthier return on their commissions than other digital publishers, Smashwords and Amazon, promise.  A lot of the smaller details are still withheld, until the big unveiling, I guess, but, once again, Kobo is pushing digital books forward.

With the birth of ereaders and tablets independent authors have moved front and center.  Even some 'dependant' authors, those signed to a contract with a publisher, have found success where success had once been elusive.  Think 'Fifty Shades of Grey' would have been a runaway best seller if people actually had to go to a book store and carry it to the cash desk?  Now, you just press a button on your ereader and you're guilty pleasure has arrived. Funny, I've always used this analogy for the popularity of Britney Spears and Ke$ha.  If you had to carry the album to the front and buy it and then risk the chance that your friends will find it in your car...you would probably pass on the purchase.  But with the iPod, guilty pleasures found their hidey drawer in your bedroom.  Now, it would appear, that the same scenario is playing out with books.  I'm not saying I'm going to write the next 'Grey' novel but what I am saying is that genre is fading.  All those authors out there that never got published because they didn't fit a niche have found a voice, their own.  We have books about S and M, "Fifty Shades of Grey" and children who's mothers think they're demons, and turn out to be correct "Switched" hitting number one on the bestseller list.

I'm pretty eager to give this Writing Life a try myself.  I'll be polishing off a short novella I've written and throwing it to the digital wolves, just to see how things can play out.  My story is a case in point when it comes to defying genre.  It's a gay road trip haunted house story.  I'm sure there's just the spot for that novel at Barnes and Nobel or Chapters...not.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Zombies In Pop Culture

Everyone thought it was just a fad.  Some guy, Zack Snyder, was remaking a George Romero flick.  A couple video games were featuring Zombies.  A book, even, was on the best seller list, World War Z.  Yet here we are, a decade later still inundated with the undead. 

A couple of nights ago on one of the most popular television shows on television, currently, Game Of Thrones, Zombies came creeping out of the snow to attack a band of heroes.  Plants and Zombies, apparently, don't get along and still Zombies are on the best seller list, in various forms, and even have their own hit television show 'The Walking Dead'.

To what do we owe the undying (pun, totally, intended) longevity of this current trend.  In decades past the public has chosen Werewolves, Vampires, Ghosts and Slasher type stereotypes to haunt our nightmares.  Each usually corresponds in a certain analogical way.  Vampires being blood suckers sometimes represent corporate greed, for example.  What then do undead human being represent in our world today?

I ask/wonder about this for a few reasons.  One I'm currently reading a Zombie novel that takes place within the Star Wars universe. 

Death Trooper, by Joe Schreiber

And two, I'm always working on one Zombie tale or another.

Reading Death Troopers, I really hope that Lucas has the guts to let others make films, like this, within his universe.  I think if he wants longevity out of his creation, it's mandatory that he do something like this.  Expand the product into other niches and bring in a larger audience.  (Hey, it worked for McDonalds)  And it would be more interesting than re-re-re-re-re-re-re-releasing any of the original films....yet, again.

I think though, if Zombies have infected even the Star Wars universe, even if it's only within a couple books, they just might be here to stay.  For whatever reason people seem to really get Zombies.  They understand that they represent something.  Whether it's the Invasion Of The Body Snatchers type syndrome where we're scared of becoming part of a larger organism and thus loosing our identity or whether it's just the fear of death, people understand the undercurrent within a Zombie story.

Sorry for the bit of a rant-type blog post, it's 1230 and I'm beginning to feel a little undead myself.  I just finished watching the Thrones season finally and was struck at how mainstream Zombies had truly become

Saturday, June 2, 2012

In Defense Of Food - Michael Pollan

We've all watched PBS at some point and have seen the images or listened to the descriptions of what and where our food comes from.  This book's not about that.  It's about what the Man has done to our food and how they've told us what's best, even when they, themselves, aren't sure what 'is' best.

I'm sure the studies and research presented in this book has been cherry picked. Of course it is, why wouldn't it be, Pollan has written this book from his perspective, but I get the feeling that there's more to support his theory than there is the government/corporation. 

Margarine, Omega 3, Low Fat, Free Radicals and Antioxidants are all words/catch phrases that are fairly new to our lexicon.  Why are they new?  Food companies like it when we buy things from them so they've discovered that if we're motivated by health benefits we throw certain items into our shopping basket.  It's an old game and, in the end, we should be above it.  We used to call it snake oil, back in the day, not my day or probably your day but maybe you're great-grandmothers day.  If something has to market itself to us as 'healthy' than is it really 'healthy' or are they just saying it is? 

Anytime someone says...be an independent thinker, I'm all over that.  Michael Pollan, is saying, don't believe all that you read, listen to your gut.  In the eighties we were told to go on a low fat diet.  We replaced those fats with carbs and we've gotten fatter for it.  Our belly, sometimes called our second brain, due to all the nerve endings it contains, doesn't seem to appreciate our newfound diet.  Which makes sense, since for the past thousand years they've been trained to enjoy a traditional diet of all natural fat, protein and carbohydrate.  Pollan's not saying that the Irish should go back to just eating potatoes but he does say that whole/natural foods are better adaptable foods than the synthesized fabricated concoctions we've been eating can be.

The deconstruction of food into nutrients has been man's biggest downfall, so far (don't want to sell us short, after all).  We keep isolating certain aspects of nutrition and saying..."this is the new best thing we've all been missing!" only to find that, after all the dust settles, we were wrong.  Take omegas for example, they loaded us up with Omega 6's when, in the end, it was Omega 3's that had all the health benefits.

This book makes that case that our grandparents knew what they were doing, after all.  Lard was good for us.  Hydrogenated vegetable oil was not.  Nature knows best and man keeps trying to get the drop.  What more do you need to know. 

Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.  Is Pollan's motto.  It makes sense too, once you think about it.

Most plants and animals have been bred to grow quickly, in order to be more profitable.  When, in fact, to be more nutricianable (a word I've just coined) they need to have the time to grow appropriately.  We wouldn't expect our two year olds to know algebra why would we expect our food to have all it's nutrients if it's only had  fragment of the time to absorb them? (okay, bad analogy but I think you get the drift.)  We load up on grains and seeds when it's the plants they turn into that carry all the nutrition.

It's obviously an interesting read, not a long one, I managed it in a few hours, but the information inside of  the covers is profound.  I highly recommend it to anyone that's wondered if yogurt go pops were healthy for your children.  (I think you know the answer to that, btw)