Announcing the Grand Amazon Giveaway!

A monument to sacrifice.

Update: That went rather faster than I had imagined.  The entire giveaway, which I had imagined to last about two weeks, was over in about eighteen hours.  Congratulations to the winners.  To everyone else, thank you for your participation.

So busy busy; I can’t seem to ever keep things to myself.

I’d like to announce another book giveaway, this time consisting of 20 Ebook editions of my collection Goliath Thunder: Sacrifice, similarly for sale in both paperback and Kindle editions from Amazon if you can’t keep your shirt on for fifteen days.  God knows I can’t.

The aforementioned giveaway is a kind of contest in which contestants have a certain chance of randomly winning an Ebook on what essentially constitutes a roll of the die.  You just have to follow this link and do as the page instructs.  There are no fees or entrance requirements to participate–aside from having an Amazon account of some manner or another.

Best of luck to you.

–Madsen

R-E-S-P-E-C-T Doesn’t Mean a Thing to Me

You came to the right neighborhood, friend.

A lot of updates this week for those who aren’t in the loop.  Where oh where oh where do I begin?

Facebook has slapped me with a shadowban.  I can’t be sure of the exact reason, but suffice it to say that they will not advertise the vast majority of content I post, and moreover, they throttle any organic impressions that my content does produce on its own.  This means that the Facebook platform is now next to useless for me.  We’re looking into alternatives–like Goodreads, for example–but it possesses some similar shortcomings alongside some interesting potential.  The lesson learned from all this is that I need to draw readers to this, my website.  It’s here that I can determine what constitutes acceptable language and whatever in the nine hells is suppose to be “provocative.”  To that end, my Facebook page will remain merely to function as a lighthouse to guide potential users to the subscribe menu on this website.  Goodreads I cannot indicate yet for certain.  There’s also Tumblr and Wattpad, but I know even less about those platforms.

Aside from all of this, I’ve been working on world building.  Some of you have already seen chapters of the serial entitled “Sword of the Saints: Sinner,” and there’s going to be a lot more of that.  There’s so much more that I’ve got another book in its final stages of production, more or less just waiting to be announced.  Exciting.  Moreover, I’m doing the groundwork for a sequel to the first Sword of the Saints serial.  At this point, it’s diagramming the arc of the story, which I consider to be part two of a trilogy, but I’ve had to stop a little short.  I realized I had not done near enough world building.  As such, I’ve been exploring new territory in my research as a writer.  I’ve been doing cartography and collecting notes on the world I’ve built.  I never realized how useful map-building would be.

This week has been bad for me.  I have several competing personal problems that I cannot resolve easily, and probably not fully until next week.  In addition, this Facebook disaster hit the fan.  You may not be aware, but Facebook was my predominant means of marketing.  To lose it so suddenly is catastrophic.  I put a year of my life [and money] into that whathaveyou that I can’t get back.  In addition to that, I’ve been on and off miserable with sickness for nearly two months.  It’s funny, I recently provided advice to aspiring writers that they stop to take care of their health occasionally.  I should follow my own advice.

Anyways, that’s all I should probably relate at this juncture.  Below are just some thoughts I was rattling off when I was too nervous to do any useful work.

I was told as a child–in fact it was something of a teacher’s mantra–that I was to respect.  Exactly the object of that respect was never exactly laid bare.  I was six.  I didn’t care.

When I grew older, I heard time and time again that respect is something earned.  It made rather more sense; let’s be honest.  Anything worth a damn has to be earned.  Anything given freely is probably a soft sell.  No such thing as a free lunch; you get the idea.

When I got a little older, a friend of mine reiterated the point, but he meant it somewhat differently.  I was always nice to everyone, and yet I never received any respect.  I didn’t understand how my friendly demeanor won me no friends at all, or at least no-one worth being called friends.

Someone was misleading me.

I began a little experiment, something I’d never done before; I hadn’t been a violent child.  When given the opportunity–a fool disrespecting me–I just beat the dumb shit out of him.  In spite of the angry stares I received for a few months from more than a few people, they gave me a lot of room.  The experiment was successful.  Respect is earned, but it is earned differently by different people.  People who aren’t worth a damn, will only respect you through fear.  People who are worth a damn, I would later find out, would respect your even keel and magnanimity, especially when shown suddenly to strangers in overwhelming quantities.

There’s a bit of the “better part of valor” within, but that’s not the whole of it.  I think someone said, “before you go running to the doctor for good boy pills, make sure you just aren’t surrounded by assholes.”

So “Why this now?”  Saw something that struck me, stayed with me.  Someone had drawn up a sign for some protest that said simply “Respect Existence,” and I thought in return “Why the hell would I do a thing like that?”  Think of all the things I abuse, exploit, and murder just to go on living.  God almighty, I keep cats around because the little sociopathic murderers never cease to amuse me.  Existing merely isn’t earning respect.  So unless your force defeats mine or your soul succors mine, it’s just not going to happen.  Make an argument.  Put the slogans away.  They’ve always been for children.  The number of people screaming a platitude doesn’t make it any more right.

So I Apologize in Advance

Apparently I’d been misled for years about the function of the membership… function on this website, thinking it simultaneously a means to post as it also a means of being subscribed to my content.  It’s only the former.  The latter is an entirely different function I’ve just recently added to the sidebar of the website.  You don’t actually have to be a user to be subscribed, which requires little more than an email address, but you do have to be a member to post.  Interestingly enough, you can be a member without actually being subscribed.

I thought I had a responsibility to inform any members that I’ve so far misled.  Simultaneously, if you’re not interested in receiving such emails–not interested in being a subscriber–consider this no imposition to subscribe and understand that I will send preciously few communications of this nature in the future, that I might not assail your probably already swelling inbox.

Thank you once again.  I’m sorry about the inconvenience.

The Adventure Continues

I used to be so nostalgic.

I’ve been trying to find a new home for my content and my followers beside, and I keep finding myself disappointed and disappointed.

So I might have mentioned that I have a page on Goodreads.  I never really knew what to do with the medium before as its user interface is frankly opaque, but forced by necessity, I’ve been exploring its community, its author assistance, and its advertising potential.  Let me just remind anyone that doesn’t know that Goodreads is probably the only major social media platform for people that specifically like to read.  Now, while Goodreads offers readers much better access to the writers they enjoy and their works, and also it does offer automated book giveaways and the like, it suffers similarly in at least one major component to Facebook.  Its advertising policies, while convenient enough to fit on a fucking page [FUCK YOU FACEBOOK], are also similarly vague.  For example one of the prohibitions actually reads “Not Allowed: Provocative.”  Sigh.  How am I supposed to take that?  Provocative in what context?  Do you mean sexually provocative?  Do you mean provocative in the sense that it does provoke, whether for better or worse, a reaction from the reader?  How am I supposed to just divine your intention?

There are all these prohibitions against “adult” and violent content, which I would be cool with if the medium didn’t also possess a little checkbox next to your book indicating whether or not it contains any explicit content.  Now, I don’t understand the point of this little indication if you won’t fucking advertise the product under any circumstances anyways.  Christ all fucking mighty, just for a lark, I’ve been trying to run an advertisement on the platform to see how it works, only to find the cheeky little cunt absolutely refuses to read my ISBN and display my book properly.  And don’t look for any help in the matter.  You won’t get it.

Basically, the wall I’m coming up against time and time again is artistic integrity, and I don’t mean that in the manner of some weak-wristed effete clutching protectively around his sculpture of a man felating himself.  What I mean is that I wrote something that I cared about, that I thought other people would enjoy, something that contained some swearing, or violence, or something that was a little bawdy.  These elements became essential to telling the story.  To remove any of them would be to literally compromise the work’s artistic integrity, as the story would completely collapse without them.  In the end, I can’t rely on some external website to allow me, as its client, to sell my work.  I can’t rely upon them in the slightest.  In the end, I have to draw people to my website, where I make the rules about what constitutes unacceptable profanity.  And if consenting adults want to read, that’s the whole point.  If you don’t like it, it isn’t like the whole internet isn’t replete with media catering specifically to your tastes.

I was taking Russian Literature in high school.  Just a sort of survey of famous Russian authors from Pushkin to Bulgakov.  The teacher–bless his ancient heart–would frequently talk about the influence of the censors on the development of Russian literature–how the author needed to be increasingly clever to slip his intent past the censor.  Then he would laugh and say those times are all over.  But that’s not true.  Censorship is cyclical.  There’s shit Monty Python did in the sixties and seventies that they could never get away with today.  It’s no different for writers.  I was laboring under the misapprehension that writing would generally go uncensored because children generally don’t read books rather than watch television or dick around on the internet.  I just can’t believe that my work, which I consider so innocent, continues to fall foul of the censor’s red ink.

Facebook’s shadow ban is real, by the way.  I’ve 95% percent confirmation now.

Censored by Facebook

This isn’t a new problem; it’s a recurring problem and one I’ve never been able to address with any congruity.  To put it simply, in the past, Facebook would prevent me from propagating what I’d written without anything resembling sufficient explanation.  Things now are somewhat worse.

I have my suspicions about the very nature of the censorship and how it occurred, but I sense that I should explain the way that Facebook works before I launch into what might seem an esoteric subject.

Facebook monetizes predominantly through two means: advertising and selling your personal information to advertisers.  I’ll discuss the latter at some other time.  The former is rather two-fold.  Various companies, usually conglomerates, use Facebook as a platform to advertise their products; it’s really nothing new and no different from advertising on television.  The latter of this is however two-fold, concerning entities on Facebook predominantly using Facebook to generate interest.  For example, I’m a writer and an entrepreneur.  I use Facebook as a way of generating both awareness and interest in the things I do [writing serials and writing books].  To that end, I have several Facebook pages representing myself the author and the two universes I’ve generated in my writing.

The mainstay of my marketing strategy has been to increase the number of users who are following my pages.  However, I have to pay to successfully do this.  While other groups that are more colloquial in nature can generate this slowly by the very nature of their inner workings, I basically have to pay to get anywhere.

The more followers I have, the more “organic” impressions I can generate when I post some piece of my work.  The problem I discovered after this is basically one of billboard space.  Facebook won’t necessarily, or even predominantly, show your content to your followers.  You have to pay further money to “boost” what you’ve posted so that your followers will have a much higher chance of actually seeing that content.

You can see that the advertising model of Facebook ensures that you’ll never stop paying them money.

Anyways, I had bitten that bullet long ago.  Problem is now that first, I cannot boost anything and secondly that Facebook is throttling all my organic impressions down to nothing.  I’ve been shadow-banned.  I can only conjecture at how it happened, because Facebook customer support is absolutely obtuse about the issue and only grows more obtuse with further investigation.  It’s possible that there’s an algorithm which automatically places pages with a certain amount of black marks into a shadow-ban folder, but I don’t think that’s actually the reason.  I think that Facebook boosted a post of mine previously about which later people complained.  Fearing to suffer further complaints, I was shadow-banned, basically ensuring that I could almost never post any content.

In the most recent situation, Facebook stipulated that the reason they wouldn’t post my content was that I was posting adult content.  For a minute, I wondered if my writing had become too saucy, although virtually any romance novels will push the boundaries of “good taste” far further that I ever intend, but then I realized that I’d been flagged for posting either pictures or video of pornographic content.

The only attached picture shows a sword lying in a flower bed.

I appealed the flagging, and the response became vague.  Rather than explain how my post was pornographic, they merely explained that it violated their advertising terms of service, and that I should read it some more.  That’s going to become something of a theme in this post.  So basically, what had happened is that they were caught out in their lie, and that rather than tell me the actual reason I’d be flagged, they just doubled down without any sufficient explanation, suggesting it had been flagged for violating the terms of service without indicating which section in the labyrinthine document I violated.  This puts the entire onus of interpreting their intentions upon me, and basically makes it impossible for me to determine what to fix before trying again.

This is by design.

I just want to mention, as an interjection, that if Facebook wanted me to remove all the romantic content from this work, all flirting or kissing altogether, that the entire work would collapse without this central pillar.  And I don’t mean that the work wouldn’t be titillating without titillation; I mean that the plot revolves around the central axis of this relationship formed between a foreign soldier and an overly indulged daughter of a high priestess.  Without that relationship driving the action, there is no actual story.  Would you have the Trojan War without the abduction of Helen?

Frustrated, I hopped on Google to look for any insight that could help me out, but the vast majority of the pages were similarly obtuse, saying to users suffering similar problems that they needed to read the terms of service.  Aggravated, I looked at the users proffering assistance and found them to be employees of Facebook.  Then I looked at the domain names of the websites I happened to be looking at merely to find them all simply help pages of Facebook.

Facebook’s advertising policies deliberately leave nebulous what they define as acceptable or unacceptable.  With profanity, for example, they never indicate what words are profane, how you would use them in a sentence to be profane–things like that.  You never know what Facebook is going to flag as profanity.  And let me tell you, I’ve advertised some profanity laden shit on Facebook only to find myself flagged for a character gesticulating “shit,” just once in some other chapter.

Facebook has two objectives with this kind of shit.  It allows them to craft the constituency and character of their website however they see fit–which is fine–and it also allows them to avoid litigation.  While I don’t think the latter specifically had to do with me, Facebook does have a history of bludgeoning certain users for their political beliefs.  Problem is that this falls into a legal not-so-gray area in which they can be sued with one amidst the several federal non-discrimination laws passed in the seventies fouling them for discrimination against clients and customers based upon political belief.  Whereas, if they had a strict rubric constituting their terms of service, they might fall foul of the law when they show preference for one political group at the expense of another, with a nebulous one, this is much harder to demonstrate in a court of law.

Anyways, unless Facebook bans me outright–which isn’t out of the cards at this point–I’m not going to stop using Facebook, but I won’t be able to post any more of my content there.  I’m going to need to shift my marketing strategy, and I don’t even know precisely how at this point.  I’ll probably be making stricter use of Goodreads, but that may be insufficient.  The problem with alternative social media in general is that it’s simply not geared for writing, writers, reading, or readers.  A number of platforms are designed specifically to demonstrate and share images; some do the same with videos; and others do similarly with audio.  I mean, there just aren’t as many readers as there used to be.  But for those who are into it, I’ll have to direct them to my mailing list.  I can’t be relying upon someone else’s incompetent algorithm and underpaid censor to determine what is suitable for publication.

Anyways, I suppose that’s it for the moment.  I don’t like to be seen as an object of pity, but I’m frankly fucking devastated.  This was the prime means of my marketing strategy, and it’s just be stolen from beneath me, and I don’t know what to do about it.  All I have are vague ideas.

Never Survives First Contact

To infinity!

You always start, when you’re making a new project, with some semblance of a plan, even if it’s a plan that only exists in your mind.  You do your best to follow it, but then things happen, and they aren’t always just complications.  This is particularly problematic for virtually every author.  When you’re writing a story, you only develop a real sense of what the story’s going to be about two-fifths of the way in.  The story has its own mind; you’re simply the vessel it settled for in its incarnation.  If you’re like me, you keep writing the story as if nothing had happened, knowing in the back of your head all the extra work that’s going to be necessary in editing the earlier portion to make it in-line with the latter.  That’s fine.  That’s good.  We all go through it.  My problem, and it’s a recurring problem, is not merely in what my story wants to be, but in what sort of form it wants to take place.  For example, you start writing a few poems, but then one hundred poems later you accidentally made enough for a whole collection that could be made into a book.

My problem is similar.

Gregory Samuels Part 2 [working title] is fixing to be large enough to be a book in its own right.  If that happens, I might just have to put its predecessor in a book, save for the fact that its predecessor isn’t really long enough to bother with the spine of a book.  As such, if this part two is large enough to become a book, then it must necessarily include its predecessor within the same volume.

The other problem is somewhat more problematic.  The Gregory Samuels series has always been intended to be released in serial format, online, for free.  There’s a few ways of working around this; it just complicates things.

That said, if things have gone well, as of the publishing of this status update, Gregory Samuels Part 2 should be finished.

That is, the rough draft should be finished.

Did you ever know some writers like to call the rough draft the “vomit draft?”

I have to maintain a certain report with the various social groups in which I’m a mostly unwilling participant.  I’ll be honest.  Having to negotiate different political beliefs has proven, time and time again, more trouble than it’s worth.  I made a promise not to engage in any crap tossing of any nature on the subject, a promise to myself–so I have to keep it.  But as regards matters of the law, which respects no political opinion, I have to make a certain admission.  I’ll announce that I don’t think any government official, elected or appointed, should have the right to just unilaterally release a convicted felon from prison.  That’s up to an appeals court.  That’s where it’s acceptable.  Nevertheless, people are up in arms about a certain transitioning whistle-blower that released information regarding extremely felonious conduct both perpetrated and concealed by the government, and this transitioning GI went to prison for it.  Those responsible didn’t see a day behind bars.  And while he did violate the uniform code of conduct, and I think he should be punished appropriately, I also don’t like the government using the law to conceal information regarding its own abuse thereof.  If any man or woman should find compelling evidence that anyone anywhere has done something felonious, including the government, that person has a civic responsibility to produce it before the courts.  Ours is a government of laws and not people, and no-one should forget that.  As it is, there’s no sufficient system within the government for government employees to function as whistle-blowers when such compromising information should come to light.

I’ll try not to darken the tone that often in the future.  I hope you can forgive me.  I prefer to keep things a little more kind-spirited and devil-may-care.

Have a picture of yet another surly cat.

Post Script: The rough draft is finished.  77 Chapters.  The plot was not what I had anticipated, but as I mentioned before, it rarely happens as you expect it.

Frustrated with Advertising Policies

I could write a story where I elucidate in nearly graphic terms coitus between consenting [or even non-consenting] adults, and this would almost always pass an advertising filter.  If, however, I wanted to use the terms “Fuck,” Shit,” or “Ass,” regardless of context, that would get flagged.  So all your little babies would know all about intercourse from a complete stranger, meanwhile consenting adults would be robbed of terms already used in fucking common parlance.  Fuck me screaming.

I don’t have to like it, but I have to play nice.  Truth is, that’s just another few bucks I’ll be spending on booze rather than on my career.

Book Giveaway Winners

So I ran a book raffle from January 4th to the 12th.  Five books being given away, and we had 877 contestants, somewhat more than I had imagined.  While it would be traditional to announce the lucky five awarded a free copy of my book Goliath Thunder: Sacrifice, I nevertheless feel some fiduciary responsibility to protect their personal information.  Suffice it to say that the international squadron [those not living within the sovereign territory of the United States] won a clear majority of the copies.

As of the publication of this notice, the copies of the title will have been sent out to the appropriate recipients.  Happy reading to you fortunate.  If those fortunate do not receive their copies, for whatever reason, I pray they contact me by whatever means most convenient, and I shall have the matter rectified.  For the vast majority denied this opportunity, know that I will run more book giveaways in the future, but also be aware that while the paperback runs $12 American, a Kindle edition is no more than $2.99 and is otherwise free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

I thank all of you for your attention and participation.  I’m a little overwhelmed at the response I’ve received.  As a sort of runner’s up prize, have an image of a surly cat.

Work Work

I told you guys I’d only be boring.  Just working.  Get up, manage hygiene, work until I feel like I’ve got a serious drinking habit, go to sleep, and repeat.  Actually, matters aren’t really as simple as that.  I spent much of Monday restructuring the website, in the process discovering some security vulnerabilities that I hadn’t previously known about.  Learned a fair bit in the process, but for the sake of our collective security, I’ll keep all that insight to myself.  That’s part one.

The rest of the week has been consumed in writing.  Part two of the Gregory Samuels trilogy continues at a brisk pace.  A very brisk pace.  At this point, it’s well on the road to becoming proper book length, which isn’t really what I had in mind.  When it’s completed, we’ll see what I want to do with it.  If it’s enough to be considered a proper novel, I may release it simultaneously as a novel at some moderate price whilst simultaneously releasing it chapter by chapter, for free, as a serial on this website.

There’s other more minor manners predominantly personal.  Long story, don’t accept responsibility for a piece of property that you don’t have the time, money, or inclination to maintain.  Doesn’t matter if it’s labelled as a gift or not.  The ability to say “no,” even to a friend, can be just as kind as saying “yes.”  I remember learning this from my father far too late.  He’s very good at saying no and being quite cantankerous, but sometimes it’s better to be cantankerous at home than publicly miserable making life for your friends similarly miserable.

I used to find abnormal psychology fascinating when I was in grade-school.  The fad had somewhat passed when I hit university.  They say that fifteen percent of all Americans will at some point experience a major depressive episode.  Of course, that isn’t the same thing as suffering depression as a hereditary disease, but it is nevertheless informative.  All around us are many people with the potential to be some variety of crazy.  How can there be such a preponderance of people with what are functionally maladaptive conditions?  I remember I had heard something about bipolar depression–first that it had strong links to schizophrenia–but also there was in actuality an adaptive component therein.  Those suffering bipolar depression, for reasons I can no longer recall, also generally have much higher immune defense.  In a pre-modern world where living past thirty-five was something of an achievement thanks to starvation, childbirth, and attendant diseases, it was more adaptive to have a more powerful immune defense than a properly functioning mind.  And so there are all these people around us, just passing us in the street, suffering all different manner of psychological ailments.  I don’t want to be the person to say that there isn’t a normal, but I will say that most people have good reasons to keep secrets.  This is part of the reason our laws are set as they are.

That’s enough for now.  I will see the lot of you in another week.  Don’t forget to post your own meanderings in the comments section.