Publisher math

Me: I'm getting the copy edit first thing Tuesday?
Editor: First thing.
Me: That means it'll be there when I get up and am ready to work?*
Editor: First thing.
Me: Overnight?
Editor: Overnight.
Me: Overnight Express, or Supersaver?
Editor: (mumbles) Supersaver.
Me: Which means 10:30. If the UPS route isn't screwed up.
Editor: Whatever.
Me: And you need it back when?
Editor: This Monday.
Me: Monday?
Editor: That's a whole week. Seven days.
Me: Seven? I get it Tuesday. I have to finish it Friday by about five. Unless I send it by mail. Then I have until Saturday.
Editor: UPS. I need it first thing Monday.
Me: First thing.
Editor: I get in at 8, and I need it on my desk.
Me: Eight is first thing?
Editor:That's right.
Me: For you, not for me.
Editor: It doesn't matter to me when you start working.
Me: So you're giving me two and a half days to do this -
Editor: Two and a half?
Me: I told you last month, the one day this month I won't be here is Wednesday. You said you'd make a note of that.
Editor: I did.
Me: Two and a half days to go through a copy edit is not a lot of time.
Editor: What two and a half days? You have all the way until Monday.
Me: First thing.
Editor: First thing.

* A lot earlier than you think. A whole lot earlier than 10:30 a.m.
No duh . . .

Traders Blamed for Oil Spike

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission plans to issue a report next month suggesting speculators played a significant role in driving wild swings in oil prices -- a reversal of an earlier CFTC position that augurs intensifying scrutiny on investors.

In a contentious report last year, the main U.S. futures-market regulator pinned oil-price swings primarily on supply and demand. But that analysis was based on "deeply flawed data," Bart Chilton, one of four CFTC commissioners, said in an interview Monday.

The CFTC's new review, due to be released in August, adds fuel to a growing debate over financial investors who bet on the direction of commodities prices by buying contracts tied to indexes. These speculators have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in contracts that were once dominated by producers and consumers who sought to hedge against oil-market volatility.

Story. (WSJ)
Life in the 'burbs

So I go to this party in the NJ suburbs last night, and the first thing I realize is that all of the guys there are wearing light-colored khaki shorts, some sort of suburban dress code thing.

Then I'm listening to the band, and I realize all the songs are about drugs and cheating on your wife.

Fortunately, there was a lot of good beer.
Slowly, slowly, slowly we catch on

. . . in 1998, the Securities and Exchange Commission authorized electronic exchanges to compete with marketplaces like the New York Stock Exchange. The intent was to open markets to anyone with a desktop computer and a fresh idea.

But as new marketplaces have emerged, PCs have been unable to compete with Wall Street’s computers. Powerful algorithms — “algos,” in industry parlance — execute millions of orders a second and scan dozens of public and private marketplaces simultaneously. They can spot trends before other investors can blink, changing orders and strategies within milliseconds.

High-frequency traders often confound other investors by issuing and then canceling orders almost simultaneously. Loopholes in market rules give high-speed investors an early glance at how others are trading. And their computers can essentially bully slower investors into giving up profits — and then disappear before anyone even knows they were there.

But by the time the so-called watchdogs catch on, the game has already moved.

Full story, with a surprisingly good explanation of the issues, here.
Rogue Warrior

All right, here's the (still tentative) lineup:

Very end of September (officially 9/29, but you know how those things go), the paperback edition of Dictator's Ransom will be available in stores.

October 13 - which I'm hoping isn't a Friday - the new hard cover, Seize the Day, will be published.

End of October (October 31, or so I'm told) - the game will finally be available.

Scheduling of events, etc., hasn't been finalized. Best place to check for hard facts like that is on Dick's web site, Here's a link. Our publisher is putting together a web page here which will have links, info, video and stuff - oh yeah, and you can buy the book there as well. The website for the game, with its official details, etc., is here.

I'll write more about what's going on as we get closer, but on stuff like this, the official channels are really the best sources.

Rogue Warrior: Seize the Day

The probable cover for the new book - details to follow.
How can anyone not be cynical?

. . . when political ideology is available to the highest bidder.

From the Wall Street Journal . . .

FedEx gave the Web site Politico a letter it received, dated June 30 and signed by Dennis Whitfield, the ACU's executive vice president. The letter said Mr. Keene's organization had offered to produce "op-eds and articles written by ACU's Chairman David Keene and/or other members of ACU's board of directors" in support of FedEx's position. In exchange, the group wanted FedEx to pay potentially several million dollars for the group's grass-roots efforts.
UPS and FedEx are battling, through lobbyists of course, over a provision in current law that UPS says gives FedEx a competitive advantage over it. When FedEx balked, the ACU - American Conservative Union - came out in support of the UPS's position.

Full story here (you may need a subscription).
Website trouble update

As a few astute readers have pointed out, there was a problem with the website over the past few days. It's fixed now, but you may have to change your bookmark depending on how you originally accessed the site. You can get there from the link at the right side of this page, or from the link at the bottom, or if you insist on typing:

Hey, you can even use this link

which gets you the music and everything.

The problem had to do with ssl certificate, which has now been excised. So entering an s after the http in the first part of the url address will now get you lost. If you're good with the cursor, you can delete it and be good to go.

Sorry for the trouble. Now all we have to do is update it, overhaul the grungy parts, and get Dogboy to stop driving into the garbage cans when he leaves at night . . .
More on Thrillerfest, and elephants in the room

What was interesting to me about Thrillerfest was what wasn't talked about, at least not at the cocktail parties, celebrations, etc.: the changes that are taking place in the book world.

Actually, there were plenty of conversations about it, and even a few panels, but for the most part they were focused on the effects of change, like authors losing publishers and advances shrinking.

Ebooks are the most noticeable development - or at least they're the one most mentioned, though the discussions generally begin and end with the word. But just as huge - actually bigger, in terms of direct impact - has been the changing face of the mass market distribution system, including financial problems of the major players.

It's becoming physically more difficult to get paperback mass market books into the hands of readers. Add that to the loss of mall stores, and you can only see a vast drop in the number of copies sold for many books. There's more concentration on certain titles, more reliance on big box and on-line sales. If you write popular fiction - or what you hope will be popular fiction - that's a huge impact on how you make your living.

Or how you want to make your living.

Of course, it's hard to talk about stuff that you have no control over. You end up talking about promotion and publicity, for example. You get great advice and even come up with strategies to win over the public and inflame the news media. But if the books aren't going to get out there, you might as well be signing cocktail napkins in the bar all night.

What's the impact of all this change on readers? It's certainly not all negative. For one thing, it's possible to get a much wider range of books (used as well as new) on-line. As bad as the Google settlement is for living writers and for libraries, eventually the initiative to put all books on-line will make a huge number of texts available to readers willing to put up with whatever tax* Google imposes. And while there may the physical presence/selection may be somewhat reduced, there are still bookstores and bookstands in many of the places where we have an impulse to buy - the airport and train station, for example.

Myself, I wish I could see the future. All I know is, I keep bumping into the elephants in the room.

* - Advertising, access fee, ass-kissing - whatever. You control the codex, you do what you want.
This was secret????

There's a big tizzy in Washington, D.C. over a supposedly super-secret program that the CIA had for eight years but never revealed to congress.

The program, as revealed by the Wall Street Journal yesterday*: Assassinate Al Qaeda leaders.

Um, duh . . .

If the CIA didn't at least give that some thought following 9/11, it wouldn't be doing its job. The only thing I don't understand is why the minimal requirement to inform congress wasn't met. I mean seriously, they didn't think congress wouldn't approve, did they?????

In a million years, I will not understand Washington. Or the media covering it.

But maybe this is just misinformation to protect a really devious program, one whose existence would actually be shocking.

* - Actually, the existence of such a program has at least been rumored for a while, if not actually reported elsewhere. And it's also pretty well-known that the Clinton administration had a similar program. The Predator/Reaper program designed to do the same thing is considered separate.
Thrillerfest: Tom Rob Smith

Stick a bunch of writers in a room with an open bar, and there's no telling what will happen. Surprisingly, though, there were no bodies left on the floor after Thrillerfest, even after David Morrell got done talking.

One of the highlights for me was meeting Tom Rob Smith, a Londoner who was honored as best new thriller writer for Child 44. As it happened, I've been reading his new book, The Secret Speech. It's one of the few books I've made it past page 100 in quite awhile. (Set in Russia during the Khrushchev era.)

But dude, you've got to lose that jacket.
Speaking of blood . . .

Her: There's blood on your shoes . . . and pants . . . and shirt.

Me: Yeah.

Her: What happened?

Me: . . . Uh . . . Cut myself shaving.

Her: That must've been one hell of a razor.

Me: Yeah.

Her: Want to talk about it?

Me: . . . Better not.

Her: Want to go to the hospital?

Me: Just hook me up with an IV and I'll be fine.
United Breaks Guitars

North Korea

Item: North Korea launches a cyber attack against South Korean and (possibly) American computer systems.

Haven't we reached the point where the easiest way to deal with North Korea is just to bulldoze Pyongyang?

I'd suggest a dozen D10s, though I could see the argument for D11Ns. Put a SEAL in each seat, give 'em a little air cover, and problem solved.
About one crash too late . . .

Regulators to Consider Limits on Oil Contracts

Reacting to swings in oil prices in recent months, federal regulators announced on Tuesday that they were considering trading restrictions on hedge funds and other “speculative” traders in markets for oil, natural gas and other energy products.

Link to story.
Closing the door after the horses are out ain't gonna be easy. And with something over a fifth of the market, "pure" speculators are going to be hard to define.... Not to mention be well motivated to keep things the way they are.

Even so, better late than never.
Jack Nicholson is a Yankee fan

Jack Nicholson was at the Yankee game last week. JRoam and I were going to go down and say hi, except that Jack was sitting inside the moat.* Saying hi would have therefore compromised our status as members of the great unwashed, whose beliefs in democracy and the absence of class in America preclude taking seats across the great divide.

That and the fact that we would have been tossed. (Security: "Yeah, you guys look like you know Jack. Go tell it to one of the people with the signs.")

This provoked a philosophical question, to wit: if someone offered you free season passes inside the moat, would you take them?

My position: You have to. Free seats are free seats, no matter where they are. You can always get new principles . . . or soothe the old ones with soft serve ice cream and sprinkles, the new must-eat food at the ballpark.

* Inside the moat = the exclusive season ticket holders area, reserved for the hoity-toity with money to burn, or with bankers spending bailout money. The lowest ticket price is something like 20 times the (already ridiculous) prices on the second level. And forget about where we sit.

So these TV people come to do this video interview thing, and it's real cool and a good excuse to drink lots of coffee and stuff, but it's about a book I wrote a gazillion years ago and the whole time I'm worrying that I'm going to have to stop in the middle and say, "What was that book about again?"
July 5

So there are bottle rockets on the lawn this morning.

I don't remember bottle rockets.

Using the roman candles as rpg launchers for the duel, that I remember. And the bazooka.
One of my favorite Dreamland characters . . .

. . . from a faithful reader, who was passing through.
Getting naked . . .

News item:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- A US Airways flight to Los Angeles was diverted to Albuquerque after a passenger removed all of his clothing mid-flight, forcing flight attendants to cover him with a blanket before he was arrested, authorities said Wednesday.

Why is it that only fifty-year-old males do this?
Hard-core sponge

Metalcore, at its purest.

For the production department. . . because they know their metal.