Thursday, February 15, 2018

Taking Things Literally

One of the reasons that most of my writing isn't deliberately set in the science fiction or fantasy genre is that I do hope that the insights that people get from reading my works can be translated into their real lives, rather than being interpreted as "allegorical". I mean, if a hero in a fantasy slays a dragon, sometimes that is just translated into real life as standing up to our fears and conquering our anxiety. But when I say "Go slay a dragon!" I don't mean that. I really do want that tyranny toppled.



Well, that was probably as clear as mud. So I'll try to say it a different way. I once met a man who lived in a hole in the ground, but he wasn't trying to be a Hobbit. He wanted to be like John Galt. And when all the other good little Objectivists heard about it, they laughed. Because to them, Atlas Shrugged was just an allegory.


The truth is that I myself am far less of a hero than I would like to be. I do pay my taxes, local, state and Federal. But I wait for the day when the dream of liberty can become a reality.



In order to bring that about, we need to recognize than none of us is as pure as the man who lived in the hole in the ground. We can't go attacking parents for sending children to public school and teachers for working at public schools, while doing nothing to repeal the school district. One LP officer told people that they should not have children if they are going to send them to public school. But did you know that if the school district and its taxes are not repealed, then home owners would still have to pay taxes to educate non-existent children, and to pay non-existent teachers? Like the Catholic Church in a world where all mankind has died out, according to Ted Sesame in Our Lady of Kaifeng: Courtyard of the Happy Way, the School District will exist even in a world without children.

So instead of telling people not to have children, wouldn't it be better to repeal the taxes? Slay the dragon. Leave the virgins alone.



Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Interview with Julia Hanna about Vacuum County with Kelly Clear

Julia Hanna recently interviewed Kelly Clear and me about Vacuum County. It was via livestream, and each of us were live on our own channels. Here is the finished interview.


One of the insights from this interview: If you enjoy science fiction, there's a good chance you will like Vacuum County. For more insights, watch the entire interview. And here's a tip: the closed captioning on YouTube is really good. So if you are having trouble hearing any one of us while we talk or cannot understand something because were are interrupting each other, you can always turn on the cc and get a written version of what was said.


Kelly Clear: "[If you] enjoy sci-fi there's a good chance you will like Vacuum County."


To order the Audible version of Vaccuum County follow this link.  Or go to Audible.com and search for Vacuum County.

Vacuum County on Audible -- Get it now

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

You, too, Can Get Audible Vacuum County

On the 24th of January, an event was held at our Village computer center to help people learn how to download Audible Vacuum County. In preparation  for that event, I made a few videos to explain what Audible is and how to download the free book




My interest in Audible began with F.L. Light, so it was only right that my demonstration of how Audible works began with his translation of the Iliad. But as I thought more about it, I realized that the reason Light preferred to listen to Vacuum County rather than to read it with his eyes was his almost archaic insistence that poetry and literature are best appreciated as oral culture. However, the need for a simple tutorial about how to download a free book became apparent as the event approached.


The above tutorial was available on each computer at the computer center on the day of the event.


After the event was over, I shared the recorded livestream with Bow, so that he did not miss anything.



If you are reading this at home, you, too, can see everything that happened. And you, too, can get a free copy of Vacuum County.

Buy Now!


Saturday, January 13, 2018

New Publicity for Vacuum County

Kelly Clear and Audible Vacuum County have been in the news again.

Kelly Clear in the Grant County Journal 
This makes the second news article about Audible Vacuum County since it came out. I have compiled highlights of the clippings as a video, here:


I loved the way Vacuum County was characterized as a Western novel in the article by Kim Jorgensen in the Grant County Journal. I also noticed that she used the same font as the one in the title on the book cover. Since I have been having such trouble with genre identification, I really want to embrace the Western characterization. I even rethought how I might identify some of my other novels in terms of their position on a compass rose.



If Vacuum County is a Western, then Our Lady of Kaifeng  is an Eastern, in which case Theodosia and the Pirates must be a Southern, and that makes The Few Who Count a Northern.



Vacuum County really is a Western, if you take the long view of it. It is a Western in the same sense that the word "Western" is used in "History of Western Civilization". 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Two Ways to Get a Free Copy of Vacuum County on Audible

I was talking with someone yesterday about the new Audible Edition of Vacuum County. Having read the great coverage that we got in the Licking News, this person wished me success in my new endeavor. "You can get a free copy of it on Audible," I pointed out.

"What is Audible?" that person asked.

 And then I realized: Even someone who has read all the publicity, has seen the great video of the Making of Audible Vacuum County, and who wishes me all the greatest success in the world might not know what it is that I'm talking about. So I decided to try to explain it here.

What is Audible?

Here is a Wikipedia article about Audible:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audible_(store)

While Audible started out independently, it is now a subsidiary of Amazon.

Here is a salient excerpt from the Wikipedia article:

Audible's content includes more than 200,000 audio programs from leading audiobook publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, magazine and newspaper publishers and business information providers.[30] Content includes books of all genres, as well as radio shows (classic and current), speeches, interviews, stand-up comedy, and audio versions of periodicals such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
In addition to the regular price charged for audiobooks, Audible offers subscriptions with the following benefits:
  • Credits: For a monthly subscription fee, a customer receives one or two audio credits. Most titles can be purchased with one of these credits. Some titles (usually larger books or collections of more than one book) may cost two credits, while others (usually very short works) cost only a third of a credit. (Users may also purchase a year's subscription at a time, for a discount, receiving all credits at once, but only in some countries.) Platinum subscribers also receive a complimentary subscription to the digital audio version of The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal.
  • Subscriber Discount: A subscriber may choose to purchase additional books without credits for a 30% discount.
Additionally, some content—particularly political speeches, government hearings, content such as the 9/11 Report Speech, excerpts, and short stories from books—are available for free.

How to Get a Free Copy of Audible Vacuum County 


There are two ways to get a free copy of Vacuum County, read by Kelly Clear on Audible.

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Vacuum-County-Audiobook/B078HSY28Z

1) For Audible Virgins: Join Audible and choose Vacuum County as your first, free book. Everyone is eligible.

2) For Audible Veterans: Ask Aya or Kelly to give you a free code. (There's a limited number of those, so show us that you write reviews.)


https://www.amazon.com/Vacuum-County/dp/B078HCL1MP

How to Prove You Review Books

If you are an Audible Veteran, please show us that you have reviewed some of the books you have listened to. There are two places where people typically review Audible Books.

1) On Audible

On Audible, when you review a book, they ask you questions, and you answer them. Here is an example of a book I reviewed on Audible.

http://www.audible.com/listener/A3PI5K5WPPW2PN?ref=a_pd_Classi_c15_rvlsni_2&asin=B00CZD294A

I don't know whether they don't trust people who listen to audiobooks to be able to write free style reviews, but on Audible, even if you are not the world's most prolific writer, they will prompt you with questions to cover the basic facts about the audiobook, including a separate critique of the content and of the reader.

2) On Amazon

On Amazon, you can write whatever you want, covering whatever aspects of the book that struck you. Here is an example of an Audible book that I reviewed on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.ca/Iliad-Unabridged-Audible-Homer/dp/1494770741#customerReviews

If you publish a lot of reviews on Amazon, send us a link to your reviewer profile. Here is mine:

Aya Katz, Amazon Reviewer

You might need to be signed in at Amazon to see that page. Amazon is very secretive, and not all my reviews show up on my reviewer page, nor can you get to my reviewer page from each of my reviews. The reason for this is not entirely clear.

Summary

Audible.com is a site owned by Amazon that specializes in Audiobooks. You can get a free copy of Audible Vacuum County there. If you have never joined Audible before, then you don't need to ask me and Kelly for anything. You can just choose Vacuum County as your first book and get it free. If you are already a member at Audible, show us that you write reviews, and we will send you a code you can use to get the book for free.

Any questions? Feel free to ask them in the comments.

RELATED



Biographical Vignettes



Here are some interesting Facts about Kelly Clear, who is the narrator of Vacuum County.


Here are some interesting facts about me:



The Making of Audible Vacuum County:


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Audible Vacuum County is Out

Order Here


The Audible Edition of Vacuum County, read by Kelly Clear, is now available. It came out yesterday, at the same time as the article linked below in the Licking News.

http://www.thelickingnews.com/in-this-edition/vacuum-county-releasing-an-audible-edition/

You can get a free copy of the audiobook if you have never used Audible before. We want you to get that free copy, because there is a bounty paid to both Kelly and to me every time someone new joins Audible because of us.


If you do get the free book, this will also unlock the further opportunity to win a free Vacuum County T-shirt. All you have to do is listen closely, answer seven magical questions about the story, and submit your answers to Julia Hanna of Artshirt Designs, here:

http://artshirtdesigns.com/2017/11/24/seven-trivia-questions-to-win-a-vacuum-county-t-shirt-of-your-choice/

There will be a drawing from those who got the answers right. Not everyone will get a free shirt, but the odds are in your favor. It costs nothing to get the book if you are new to Audible, and it costs nothing to enter the trivia contest.  If you like getting things for free, and are also interested in books about freedom, this is an offer you won't want to pass up.



Monday, December 4, 2017

Conjuring Up Memory and Imagination

Do you remember your past, and if so, how do you remember it? Can you smell the cookies baking, or see the flies buzzing on the manure? Do you hear the voices of people who are long gone or feel your mother's touch as she fed you your oatmeal or soup before you were allowed to wield a spoon? Can you remember word for word an entire conversation that happened decades ago? And even if you don't actually remember, can you dig deeper into something that happened a long time ago and bring back dormant memories? Is it like re-watching an old episode of a favorite TV show, which you had forgotten all about, but now recall vividly?

My grandmother Klara, myself, and my grandfather Benzion Katz

Not all people have that kind of memory. Some can know things from the past, the same way we know historical facts, without having access to an image or a sound or a sequence of events that led to the conclusions that were drawn from the experience. Without access to the life event that led to a particular belief, it is not even possible to go back and reassess our conclusions.

Today, I posted an old memory of an interaction with my grandfather many years ago.


Without an episodic memory, I could still have told you about how old I was when I started reading, or where I learned English, but I could not have described the vivid experience of knowing how to read and being told not to read out loud what was clearly written on the page. I could not have remembered the pointer, or my grandfather's voice.

Today I came across an article about how some people can't see pictures in their imagination.  As a result, they might not enjoy reading fiction, and they might not be able to visualize objects at will. But I think this is not strictly an issue of visualizing. I think some people cannot re-experience any sensory memories in the sequence in which they happened. They can remember what an apple looks and tastes like well enough to recognize an apple the next time they see it, but they have no memories of specific apples, and how they felt and tasted, and who gave them those apples.

I know there are some people who enjoy nonfiction, because they feel it is factual and that they gain knowledge from it, but they get nothing whatever out of fiction. If the facts in the books are all made up, why even bother to memorize them, they think. But we don't set out to memorize fiction. The whole point is to experience it as raw events in the making. Then we are free to draw our own conclusions. We don't have to agree with the narrator, who may or may not be reliable

While it's true that nonfiction has an authoritative voice, it often presents us with fewer facts from which we may draw our own conclusions. Every news source is biased, and unless we learn to read between the lines, accounting for the idiosyncrasies of the unreliable narrator, then we are stuck with all our thinking done for us by somebody else.

I have never liked that. That's why I am not going to sit around watching the news, whether the source is CNN or Fox. I would much rather ferret out the truth for myself, by paying attention to the tell-tale facts that show up in my peripheral vision while I am experiencing life. And since I have great episodic memory, I can replay old episodes in my mind's eye years after they happened, until I can get a detail that escaped me before to come into focus.

The virtue of Vacuum County is that we can experience the story from multiple points of view. All of them are biased, but together they help us to build a consistent image of the truth that each narrator cannot help but also share. All people lie. But all people also tell the truth, if you know how to listen. Vacuum County is good training. Listen to Kelly  Clear tell you the story, and close your eyes to see what images your mind conjures up.