Friday, December 30, 2016

Arcade City Fraud: The Anti-Uber Populism that Fueled a Million Dollar Fraud

Arcade City is synonymous with the fraud of Christopher David (Christopher Pille). I met Chris when I volunteered for the Ron Paul Christmas Vacation for Ron Paul's 2008 presidential run. I was a volunteer and he was coordinating the Dubuque area, where many Purdue and IU students were assigned. I saw him again at CPAC living large. He had a girl on each arm and I wondered how he did it. I found out
Back when he was Christopher Pille


If you are an investor like Richard Ver, or a participant in the ethereum coin buy, and you are angry at the name change from "Arcade City" the "The Swarm," you and your money were rightfully separated (your investment might have some worth someday if you don't empower Chris to steal on your behalf.... 'but this time for real guys, I'll pay you back if you just let me have the big vat of money I've been seeking this last year'). One of the most shameful examples of how the bitcoin community has failed itself and has succumb loose wallet strings that come with the huge capital gains in the value of bitcoin is the GTEC awards in Berlin. Arcade City won first place which includes 20,000 Euros. Arcade City relies on really bad journalism from local media outlets and the overly positive journalism of Joel Valenzuela who constantly calls the impotent startup an "Uber Killer."

Christopher David wants to be a big spender. He takes the concept of OPM (other people's money) to the extreme. He took Ivan Chen O'Neill's money when Ivan funded a broke campaign in the spirit of wanting to continue the Ron Paul revolution. O'Neill's theory is that Chris rides the coattails of movements that he can barely articulate the rationale of. From O'Neill:

Before moving out to California, Chris was working with the non -profit, Young Americans for Liberty. Proving to be decent at organizing volunteers through online forums, Chris convinced the organization to fly him out to California to start another chapter. When he got to California, he failed to perform for YAL, citing other projects he wanted to pursue. He was then let go of from YAL. Jeff Frazee, then executive director of YAL would go on to say Christopher Pille was plagued with an “ambition that surpassed his abilities”



 Indeed, when I went to New Hampshire to gather signatures I had a hard time getting the entire concept of Arcade City out of him. He had very little interest in getting signatures. He had a friend from Oregon helping to organize who did most of it. Chris flew in a female counterpart of himself who claimed to be a journalist for the Daily Beast to help gather signatures. I personally gathered hundreds, Chris' friend organized the gathering of hundreds, and the female he flew in claimed to have called in afavor and gathered the required thousands needed for Independent ballot access. She tried to lecture us lowly signature gatherers about her relative worth compared to us and "if we believed in market value I would be getting all the money." Clearly, lying assholes deserve all the money.
 

When journalist chic was flown in to "help" in the signature gathering effort she demanded privacy in a conference room where she set up her bullshit operation to get more signatures by election day. Chris had managed to get his hands deep in the wallet of a local millionaire (he told me 15k, but other people report the dude paid as much as 25k for the signatures). I used my personal vehicle to drive him place to place in New Hampshire. Any attempts at striking up conversation were thwarted as he was working on Arcade City or something else (I was momentarily intrigued about him being legit). Everyone he had hired to help him out seemed to have devastating personal problems that required him to tow a car or pay for this or that. He paid, too (but not for signatures). Losing more and more money as he went. He wanted to make his friends happy who were closest to him but also to have absolute control of the money. When I was done with my signature gathering he owed me about $300.00 for the signatures alone but also claimed that he would compensate me for driving him around. I was paid $100.00. I told him a couldn't accept that, I had to leave with more. He held strong. Of the 15,000 dollars he could barely compensate me $100.00 after I drove him everywhere and gathered more signatures than everyone else. About a month later I was paid more from an Arcade City PayPal account. His friend from Oregon was also shorted tremendously before flying back home.

All of this is before I read Ivan's blogs or knew about him defrauding YAL for a free trip to California (along with funds, I'm sure, to pay for his housing). Ivan O'Neill does an even greater service to investors who must have their heads in the sand in order to still invest in Arcade City. He warns people over an over again, often taking a huge amount of flak from idiots who want to believe because they are blinded by anti-Uber populism.

Over the past year I've seen Arcade City morph from being a fucking joke with a basic app that did nothing into a fucking joke that won a prize with zero proof of concept, gained funding from an idiot investor, and somehow gaining the trust of Ethereum programmers who helped facilitate a coin sale to fund Arcade City by upward of $500,000 (Fact Check).

Anti-Uber Populism

Christopher David was pro-Uber before he was anti-Uber. The notoriety he gained from being charged with a wiretapping felony (under a law that was meant to protect citizens from the spying NSA) attracted the sympathy of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who is very outspoken against NSA spying and who is also pro-free market. When I saw the following video it finally clicked in my head that Christopher David and Christopher Pille were one and the same. I looked him up and asked him what he was up to. He invited me to come up and gather signatures with him. Honestly, it was a lot of fun and I wouldn't trade the experience for more money or anything like that, but that doesn't change the fact that he is a fraudster and people should be warned.


There are countless anti-Uber videos online. A lot of them are by angry drivers who declare that they won't drive for Uber unless they are surging (exactly what Uber uses surges for...). Arcade City proposes itself as a "disruptor." The word "disruption" is loved by libertarians with an economic tilt. It is a throwback to Joseph Schumpeter's business cycle theory of "creative destruction." One system replaces another, one piece of creation destroys another. Netflix and Redbox killed Blockbuster, for example.

Christopher David is no "disruptor." Neither are the programmers dumb enough to be inspired or believe in anything he does after reviewing the history of this project. The idea behind Arcade City is that it will run itself. There is no need for human intervention once it is up and running. It should be a self-propagating business. It will run with smart contracts that cannot be fooled or manipulated by a third-party (this is the complexity of the project that he absolutely could not explain to me).

When Chris had the chance to purchase insurance for the driver's of Austin he balked at the expense. Buying insurance won't help with the hotel rooms, globe-trotting, or all the blow that goes up those huge nostrils. Even for rides that were run through the app, insurance was out of the question. Instead, he declared that everyone should set up their own businesses.

Don't get me wrong, I support the idea of operating at odds with the law. What I don't support is confusing people who clearly have no clue what they are doing into getting their vehicle impounded or putting them in a financial mess on the way to the big $500,000 dollar money grab (that you were hoping would be upwards of $10 million). Shame on ethereum programmers who facilitated the sale, but good job on setting up the 7 key, 5 sig wallet.

Christopher loves hiring people on the spot. More than one time I've heard him utter the words "you're hired" when I was in New Hampshire and he was talking to various people he just met. He promised people positions within the company, for their travel to be "comped," and a number of other monetary promises he had a hard time fulfilling. The people who were actually part of the city council are more likely to have either skill with ethereum or were in the right place at the right time for his arbitrary and random decision making. Chris also loved to demean people as "his employee" or "staffer." When he stole money from O'Neill, he kept calling him "an angry former staffer" when he was questioned. As if he were the shit and a former employee was mad at him.

Chris faked a resignation. It seemed like he resigned from his CEO position but it was all in the spirit of getting more investor money or building confidence in the ethereum sale but it turns out he never left. It was more fraud.

Everyone close to Christopher David knows he is a fraud. The entire "City Council" turned on him because of his money grabbing (in his own words):

As the former ‘Arcade City Council’ prepares to use the remaining ~$570,000 from the Arcade City token sale to launch a new (competing) project (“Swarm City”) completely separate from Arcade City, I believe it’s important to inform the public how the situation has evolved to this point.
This fucker has the audacity to use the word "transparency" as a trigger to make the blind idiots who follow him. He wants to be compensated for the "intellectual property" currently in posession of Arcade City, Inc.

All seven members of the Council agreed in my “resignation” proposal to the following: “We will separately negotiate the transfer of intellectual property of Arcade City, Inc. to an entity selected by the Council.” I have received no offers or communication to begin any such negotiations. Certainly my ongoing fiduciary duties to Arcade City, Inc. prohibit me from transferring its assets to another entity for nothing in return.
 There is no intellectual property worth compensating Christopher David nor idiot investors over. Arcade City is done. It was a fraud. It will continue to be a fraud until people stop giving this asshole money.


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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Verge's Bad Math on Spotify Royalties

When an indie artist comes out with an album should you feel guilty for listening to the album on Spotify and not purchasing it on iTunes? Are you ripping your artist friends off? No. Hell no. Don't feel guilty. If you are are a premium Spotify listener you have NOTHING to feel bad about.


First I want to point out that we live in a special point in human history where a music artist can earn a passive income by selling their recorded music. This is a lot different than having to physically perform to earn an income which is what a majority of music artists have to do in order to earn anything.

In an article put out by the Verge the journalist does ridiculous things like look at contracts between Sony and Spotify. The artist royalties between Sony and their artists have very little to do with my argument here. Those artists have sold their rights. This is going to be about indie artists who put their music out on Spotify. She uses the "average payout" of .006 and .0084 to calculate how much money she's given the artist she listened to the most.

Here’s what that means for me. My top artist of the year was Built to Spill, whose songs (mostly from There's Nothing Wrong with Love) I streamed 267 times over the course of 2015. Using the upper limit of Spotify’s estimated payout, that would be 267 x .0084, which means I paid Built to Spill somewhere around $2.24 for an entire year of music. And that $2.24 is distributed among the music's "rights holders," which includes labels and publishers. So the band is getting even less than that. My most-streamed track of the year was The-Dream’s "That’s My Shit," and I’m sure Terius Nash appreciated the 27 pennies that earned him. I listened to 13,000 minutes of music on Spotify this year, which means I paid around one-tenth of a cent per minute. And I'm paying Spotify's $10 per month subscription fee; if I were relying on its free, ad-supported tier, the payout for artists would be even smaller.

The problem with this math (and it's a BIG problem) is that everyone this journalist referenced in the article has Spotify premium. This means that the payouts are significantly higher. They are probably 5-10 times higher depending on the listener. Each listen generates revenue and there is no set rate but 70% of all revenue that comes in to Spotify is remitted to rights holders. If you are a premium listener and you're listening to an album you are paying way more than non-premium listeners. Check out what Spotify has to say about the royalty rates.

Recently, these variables have led to an average “per stream” payout to rights holders of between $0.006 and $0.0084. This combines activity across our tiers of service. The effective average “per stream” payout generated by our Premium subscribers is considerably higher.
If you're paying $10.00 per month then $7.00 per month is going to rights holders. If those rights holders are artists who produce their own music then they will get 100% of the payout Spotify remits.

The journalist from the Verge who listened to "Built to Spill" 267 times likely paid that artist between $10-15 dollars. Let's assume that amount was $10.00. If that artists has 100 premium fans at that rate (which is not very many) that album would have earned $1,000 from Spotify.

This is payments per million listens of the average listener. 1 million premium listens is much higher. If an artist attracts 1 million premium listens then his payment will be 10k-20k (total estimation).

The song "Carry The Zero" by Built to Spill has roughly 3 million listens. That means the artist made 18k-25k on a single song. That is way more than YouTube.

So listen to "The Hugeness" album by The Hugeness.





Saturday, September 10, 2016

Getting Your Short Story Rejected

Getting your short story rejected doesn't mean you should give up on your publishing aspirations. I made a quick video sharing some of my rejection stories.

I am not a professionally published writer. I earn most of my money through writing but none of that is fiction writing. Sorry for the low-quality of the video. I'm not much of a video producer. I thought this might be a good way to practice making videos.

Lesson: Don't give up on publishing. Keep submitting until the outcome is inevitable.


Friday, September 9, 2016

The Need to Create Content

Why complain about someone else's content in the comments section when you can create your own content to annoy other people? Right? It makes no sense to complain in the comment section when you could be CREATING the content.

The problem here is that no one is obliged to read your content. Often your content could go unnoticed. I posted roughly 5 YouTube videos over 6 years and they have hardly any views. Should they? Of course not. There is no consistent content creation. I've not given anyone a reason to come back to my channel and watch. Or subscribe.

If you decide to become a content creator you should work on consistency first and then upgrade your quality as you progress. The quality of my YouTube videos are terrible but they will get better over time.

I've not been a consistent blogger either. I've decided to change that this month. I want to post 1 blog a day this month, just as an experiment. These are my blogs so far this month:

1. From Today: The Church as the Villain in Fiction
2. How to Twitter Properly
3. The Struggle: Struggles I am dealing with trying to make something happen.
4. 7 Proactive Steps for Publishing: I'm teaching myself here.
5. 8 Tips from an Author who went No. 1: Jeff Bennington
6. The Traffic Stop: Flash Fiction
7. Kindle Direct Publishing: Teaching Myself
8. The Ethics of the Murder of Sim Entities in a Sufficiently Complex Virtual Universe

Videos I have created on YouTube in the last year.



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The Church as Villain in Fiction

Philip Pullman probably did it best with the "His Dark Materials" series. Children were going missing in an alternative universe and no one knew where they were going. In this universe, people were attached to something called a "daemon." These are similar to a spirit. They were animals that were spiritually attached to children. Upon puberty they take their final form. The final form of the animal says a lot about a person's personality.

**Plot Spoiler for "The Golden Compass**

It turns out that the church was stealing these children and experimenting on way in which they could separate them from their Daemon. It was horrific. This process can be liked to a frontal lobotomy.

**Plot Spoiler Ended**

This type of experiment is non unlike a frontal lobotomy which reminds the reader of an asylum.

The church has changed over the years. It is no longer the organization that claimed the sun revolved around the earth and put scientists and philosophers on house arrest for publishing heretical documents. Now it embodies a popular progressive authoritarianism that calls for non-coercive one-world governing system.  They celebration the United Nations as an advancement towards peace but declared that it didn't do enough.  John XXIII: there is a
"need for a public authority, on the international level, with effective capacity to advance the universal common good; an authority which could not, the Pope immediately continued, be established by coercion but only by the consent of nations. Such a body would have to have as its fundamental objective the “recognition, respect, safeguarding, and promotion of the rights of the human person” (ibid., IV: l.c., 294). The Holy See.
The United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights was celebrated but such things "the right to food and drinkable water, to housing and security, to self-determination and independence" were not being realized. "Peace demands that this tension be speedily reduced and in time eliminated" (Pope John Paul II). The "right" to all of these things is where the emphasis is placed. On the surface this sounds like a good idea until we analyze which countries establish a "right" to these things, and which countries actually have these things.

All government action is coercive. There are certain scenarios where this type of coercion could be said to be "justified" because the good outweighs the bad. In one case the Vatican calls for jobs, not handouts. In another case the Pope calls for coercion to limit free expression and drugs.

The church no longer does the crazy stuff it used to but there is still enough fodder, economic ignorance, and good intentions with bad results within the church to make for some good fiction plot-lines.

I realize that not everyone sees things the way I do. Some people are very much in line with the new progressivism of the church because they don't see how good intentions lead to bad results. They find fault in big businesses and profit seeking for nearly everything while they see the only solution as being coercive government action (I'm being repetitious to make a point). Maybe the church doesn't perform exorcisms of frontal lobotomies on children, but it encourages the "right to food" that Venezuela took up in 1999:

In 1999, at the start of its process of social transformation known as the Bolivarian Revolution, Venezuela became among the world’s first countries to adopt a national policy of food sovereignty. Its newly reformed constitution guaranteed its citizens the right to food through a secure national food supply based on sustainable agriculture as a strategic framework for rural development, to be carried out through a series of laws, institutes, and programs.
How'd that turn out? Ending profit motive, the motive which guides people to produce the goods  and services for people in society who would willingly exchange their own goods and services for, kills an industry.

The evil of this type of progressivism is below the surface. It is an intellectual laziness that prescribes altruism as the solution tot he world's problems rather than a much better solution; the leveraging of self-interest with profit margins.

The church can still be the villain in literature but it is no longer to villain of simple-minded populist ethos. It is the villain of the thinking man: those who can link cause with effect.



Check out "8 Tips from an Author who went No. 1"


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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

How To Twitter Properly

As of writing this I have 826 twitter followers. Some of them seem to be advertisements for porn. I follow 1,707 accounts. I started following Ian Sutherland and he tweeted to me "Thanks 4 following! Here's 10 free marketing videos." So I click the link and I enter my e-mail and watch the first video (each successive video will be sent to me in 2 day increments). He captured my e-mail and is training me to check my e-mail but the first video has zero substance. So, I thought I'd do a little research myself and find out the best practices for Twitter marketing. I've been making mistakes.

As with any of my posts let me add the caveat that I am writing this to learn faster, not because I am an expert.


Tips

1. Don't just market yourself but engage in conversations. Social Times suggests an 80:20 rate of conversation to marketing.

2. "Participate in (or host) Twitter chats." Source article. What's a twitter chat? A twitter chat is using a hashtag to create a chat-room. Since I am writing Young Adult Fiction one hashtag that I see others use often is #Yalitchat. A website or blog will often set up a time to have a group chat with a prominent author using such a hashtag. Participating in such chats will help you to achieve goal number 1. Here is a comprehensive list of twitter chats.

3. Videos have "2.5 times more replies, 2.8 times more Retweets, and 1.9 times more likes than simply including a link to a third-party video in your Tweet" (Source). Videos can be up to 512 MB and 2 minutes and 20 seconds long. Here is a video guide put out by Twitter.

Here is one I made just for this post about a concert I saw in St. Louis.


4. Like the way I embedded that tweet? Here is a guide on how to embed tweets.

5. Be careful who you follow. If you're aiming to have a lot of writers follow you, start following writers. My Twitter account is way different than my Facebook account because I don't want them to be the same. I want my Twitter account to be about writing and to reach out to readers. My Facebook account is an abyss of political drudgery. This is probably half the reason I intermittently shut Facebook down in favor of Twitter and happy thoughts. I intend not to let my Twitter account succumb to the political black hole that is my Facebook account.

6. Use hashtags. Most of my interactions with people occur when I use hashtags. Hashtags open you up to the world of twitter and not just those who follow you. It ads a little more permanence to your post than you would otherwise have. Twitter is, after all, fleeting. A post can be buried in just a few minutes without using hashtags and getting interactive.

7. Use Tweetdeck. It's the best way to properly use hashtags and use the chat features of Twitter. You can search for a hashtag on a topic you find interesting and create a column in your tweetdeck to participate in those discussions.
 


From the time I started writing this until right now I have gained 2 followers. Woohoo!



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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Struggle

Never compromise a dream. Do what you must. The fears, beasts, and mountains before you are part of the plan. Stepping stones to a promised land. To a time and place that is so much closer than even you expect. So don't let your eyes deceive you, for even as you read these words, your ship swiftly approaches…    -Mike Dooley
Lemp Mansion Event
Ever force yourself to keep going to stave off the very real prospect of being homeless without shelter? For the first day the stress was horrible and I even considered taking on incredibly low-paying gigs for a very disreputable business. But I have my own writing business going and it's growing. I find what I do for money to be personally edifying as well because it requires learning a lot of new things every day. This includes learning new things at a rapid pace and learning how to be a better writer while reading all kinds of literature.

Lemp Mansion Blues


When I came back to Indiana I decided to stay with a friend who wasn't all mentally there. I gave him money, bought him cigarettes, fast-food, endured his smoking, and was constantly distracted by the trashy shows he watched on TV. I was becoming dependent and my life was becoming stagnate. I was losing my imagination and had to be around someone who had no ambition. I started to lose my own ambition in favor of being entertained by things that distract me from achieving any kind of goals. Luckily I was building my business because when him and I got into a fight I had to leave.

Speakeasy Bar
Old Fashioned Speakeasy Coolers
I came to the realization that no matter where I am, when I am beholden to someone I have to spend a lot of time maintaining a servile and subservient attitude towards that person. This is because I believe that they are doing me favors. They are doing me favors. But this is no way to live life.

When I left his house I didn't know what to do. I called a homeless shelter because I knew the price of hotels would deplete my funds almost immediately. I didn't qualify to stay there (my license was from a different county). So I stayed in a hostel for a few days. Then I took a Megabus to St. Louis and stayed in a hostel there. It was tough because it costs a lot more to stay in a hostel and generate all my own income on the go.

I then found an apartment in St. Louis that I rented day-to-day that was right next to the Lemp Brewery right across from the Lemp mansion. The Lemp Brewery was shut down after prohibition stuck.

The apartment I stayed at was part of a larger mansion that had a speakeasy under it. After attending a jazz event at the Lemp mansion (where the Lemp family stayed, a few of them killing themselves) I got to go down into the speakeasy. A guy at the Lemp mansion begged me to let him come to the speakeasy. I was skeptical of its existence. It DID exist, and it was pretty cool.
Speakeasy Lounge

Hollowed Out Speakeasy TV
Now I'm back in Indiana living day-to-day and trying to convert my income generation from non-fiction writing to fiction writing. When people give advice such as "use the services of a professional editor" all I can do is laugh to myself and wish I could afford that. I need to find a stable place to live before I pay for the services of an editor.

I have a daughter that lives here in Indiana and it's the hardest thing in the world to be away from her. Even when I'm here I can't do things like get her tickets to concerts up in Chicago or down in Indy. If I do manage to buy her anything it's her Mom who takes her. I want to do things I love and not just stuff to get by and earn a menial income. I know my expectation for fiction writing might be unrealistic but I've really got to try. I love telling stories. I love finding out what is going to happen to the characters in my head as they experience this or that situation.

The Sub-Basement of the Speakeasy
I started writing this post in July when I was in St. Louis. Now I'm back in Indiana and my prospects look fairly dim. The only thing to do is to struggle hard, create stuff, and keep going. The opportunity cost of working 10 hours a day for someone else to subsist in depression is not worth the cost.

7 Proactive Steps for Publishing

My current income comes from non-fiction writing that occasionally consumes all my mental willpower. When I have a break from writing (surviving) I tend to watch YouTube videos and listen to both audio-books and podcasts. What steps am I taking to change this?

Steps I am taking to Earn Income from Fiction

1. Writing. It's a well known fact that if one does not write fiction, one does not earn money from writing fiction. I am spending more time writing fiction.

2. Taking advice from others. Check out this post: 8 Tips from an author who went no. 1

3. E-mail list. I would have just used gmail but apparently spam filters flag that stuff when it's coming from mailchimp servers from a gmail address. So I bought a domain www.gefiction.com and can now be e-mailed at george@gefiction.com.

It took me awhile to figure out how to post this form here. (Reason 4 after the form!).  Be my first subscriber?

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4. I'm building my social media accounts. On facebook I am George.Edwards2 and on Twitter I am @WritingDystopia.

5. I'm listening to a couple of podcasts that are oriented towards writing. One is called "The story Grid" and the other is called "The Creative Penn." I heard about the former from the latter.

6. I'm researching a lot about book marketing and self-publishing techniques.

7. I'm blogging more. In my mind if I blog more an gain an audience before I publish then I will have more success than if I do not.

Check out my reasoning for self-publishing.

Flash Fiction
1.The Ethics of the Murder of Sim Entities in a Sufficiently Complex Virtual Universe
2.The Traffic Stop (Flash Fiction)


Sunday, September 4, 2016

8 Tips From an Author who went No. 1

I want to self-publish my fiction and earn a living doing so. I don't know many people who have accomplished this (aside from those whose podcasts I listen to, blogs I read) but I did get a chance to ask a local writer for advice. His name is Jeff Bennington; website here.

Jeff went all the way to no. 1 in the Kindle free store. This is an accomplishment because there are hundreds of thousands of books being published every year, many of them free. Having a free book is a good way to start of a series and it used to be a good way of raising the ranking of your book when it is placed back on sale. Check out "The Secret in Defiance: A Coming of Age Supernatural Thriller."

I asked Jeff what has changed since the last time we talked in 2011.


Yeah, a lot has changed. Many of the principles I wrote about in the Indie Author's Guide to the Univers (Now, The Author's Guide to Publishing Success--Ebook) still apply, but where and how you market has totally changed. 
Some takeaways from our conversation:

-Keep writing and perfecting the craft.
-Visit thekindlebookreview.net author resource page for the best place to promote.
-If you don't have 50-100 excellent reviews, you can't even advertise on many of the top sites (BookBub, etc).
-Grow your audience.
-Capture opt-in e-mails with your e-book.
-Listen to your reviews (with a grain of salt)
-Pay for editing and proofreading from an outside source (not friends or family)
-Publish great covers that ONLY equal the top selling books in your genre.

**Jeff added to the article that you should pay for an editor whether or not 

The hardest of these pieces of advice will be to pay for an editor and to acquire a good artwork for book covers. It's a tough cycle. If I were to manage to convince an agent to take me up and if they manage to sell my writings to a publisher I wouldn't have to pay for these things. However, my first book would be published in the distant future and not any time soon. I want people to read my stuff and I want feedback.

Enjoy this article? I will have a newsletter soon. Full of good stuff.


Check out my dystopian flash fiction:

1. The Traffic Stop
2.  The Ethics of the Murder of Sim Entities in a Sufficiently Complex Virtual Universe


-Blog post about why I want to self-publish






Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Traffic Stop (Flash Fiction)

It was the dead of winter. My boyfriend and I were trying to escape.
      He drove erratically to avoid the Peacekeepers. It was the exact thing that would attract them. I shrank into the passenger side door and spoke into my watch. “But I love him,” I said. I stole a glance at Owen to make sure he didn’t overhear. 
After a brief pause Heather’s voice sounded in my ear. “Yeah, okay Emma, but you’ve been off your neutralizer pills for a few months now, they’re going to detect it.”
I closed my eyes, sucked some air in, and released. My heart rate variability monitor levels were on par with the effects of the drugs. “I’m good,” I said.
Heather sighed. “Okay, but…”
Owen cursed as his wheel seized-up. He tried to steer straight but the car parked itself on the side of the road. A Peacekeeping patrol appeared behind us, lights flashing. A recollection from what seemed like a previous life flashed through my mind. I performed a breathing exercise to keep calm, something I didn’t have to do when I was on neutralizer. Owen did the same.
“Step out of your vehicle,” came an automated voice from the Peacekeeper’s vehicle to our embedded earpieces. 
Owen took a deep breath, brushed his long dirty-blond hair back, and stepped out. I followed suit. A blast of cold air hit me as I stood, but I ignored it. I concentrated on being numb to everything, as Neutralizer would have made me. 
“What’s going on?” Heather asked, but the communication was cut off before I could respond. 
A Peacekeeper emerged from his vehicle, calibrating his body scanner. He was chubby with a blank stare visible through his visor. It was a line of work that didn’t require a lot of thought, just rote procedure. 
“Our system indicates a driving routine that doesn’t match the mean,” the hefty Peacekeeper said. “This gives me probable cause to scan you for non-compliance.”
I pushed air out of my lungs and went to my happy place, but not too happy, the scanners would detect that. The due-process the officer followed gave horrific law a procedural elegance that improved compliance levels. 
“Yes sir,” Owen said. “We are fully compliant, as your scan will show.” 
I glanced at him, a huge risk. He was concentrating on his breathing. The Peacekeeper approached Owen first, presumably because he spoke-up, and slowly passed his scanner up and down his body. He checked the results and made his way toward me. I pushed panic out and sucked life-affirming air in. The peacekeeper smelled of processed feed, a mass produced nutrient dense food compliant with all government recommendations. The scanner moved up and down, then paused near my heart. 
“What?” I asked. 
The peacekeeper lifted the visor from his helmet. His skin was pasty white and the flesh around his eyes was inflamed. “You have a right to remain silent,” he began.
“What?” I asked again. “What did I do?”
He raised his hand to silence me. “I’m about to tell you,” he said with whiny authority. “I’ve seen this scan signature before, a long time ago.” He looked over at Owen, then back to me. “It’s him, isn’t it?”
“What’s him?” I asked, fear creeping up my throat. On his uniform were sewn on fabric pieces that represented medals of valor. One of them was particularly malevolent, a symbol of true dedication to the law awarded when a peacekeeper enforces the law with an immediate family member. 
“You’re in love with him,” he said, eyes watering from cold air slapping his face. 
I glanced at Owen. The officer’s scanner climbed towards my head. Owen’s face was wrought with anxiety now, and I smiled at him, bracing for the inevitable. 
“It’s been so long since I’ve seen this,” the officer said, water now leaking from his eyes. “I just..” He grabbed his gun from his holster and thrust it into my mid-section. His chapped lips formed the words, “I want what you have. Help me.” 
My eyes widened. I wasn’t sure what to do. It was a passing desperation, a cry for something that even dopamine blocking agents couldn't stop.
“You’re off your nuetralizer, aren’t you?” he asked. “That’s immediate death. I am duty bound. But..”
More water leaked from his eyes. “You don’t have to do it,” I said, feeling the hard end of the gun against my abs. “You don’t have to enforce.” My own tears began accumulating. 
“You want to know when I saw this last?” he asked, referring to the results of the scan.
“Yeah, yes,” I said with all the confidence I could muster. 
Tears streamed down his face now. His inflamed eyes narrowed and his tone changed to one of angry finality. “My daughter.”
Pain ripped through me and the sound of the gun rang in my ears. As I fell Owen screamed and scrambled around the front of the vehicle. I hit the ground and the world began to fade. Another shot rang out. I closed my eyes to embrace sleep as the pain subsided. The most concentrated and pleasurable pain I’d ever felt. Pain that was absent from most of my life. Dopamine was released into my body and I exalted in it as sleep finally overtook me. 



If you liked this story, you might like:

The Ethics of the Murder of Sim Entities in a Sufficiently Complex Virtual Universe

Friday, September 2, 2016

Kindle Direct Publishing

I have filled out my Kindle Direct Publishing information so the million dollar royalty checks I will be receiving (for future publications of course) can be directly deposited into my account. Unrealistic expectations? Of course.

The Story

About 4-5 years ago my ex-wife and I took our daughter to Myrtle Beach where a swimmer was pulled out by a riptide and drowned. Partially to assuage my daughter with a scary yet fantastic tale and partially to satiate my need to write I started a story for her about this girl from Indiana who went to Myrtle Beach only to discover that her parents had been hiding a secret from her. The secret was that she was an adopted orphan who had been found, as a baby, on beach. Of course there was an even deeper secret that this girl didn't even know about herself.


Sharks and Mermaids are mortal enemies. It's almost as if it is impossible for them to coexist. So where do mermaids come from?

This book was inspired by my daughter and by the Ripley's Believe in or Not Aquarium, the likeness of which is described in the writing. My intention is to edit the manuscript about 5k words at a time and release it as a serial onto Kindle Direct Publishing. Why am I releasing it at all?
The Reasoning

First and foremost it is not for the money. Ultimately, yes, I want to make a good living publishing fiction but I do not have unrealistic expectations. Instead, releasing this as a serial will give me practice at quite a few skills I will need as a self-publisher.

1. Marketing
2. Consistency
3. Content Creation
4. Editing

An author who goes the normal route (presumably through an agent and then a publisher) must have all of these elements as well but in a very different way. They rely on a big publisher to allocate resources towards their novels and they have no control over digital and out-of-print books.  For a self-publisher, networking and resources put towards your project are all up to you. The royalties are greater per sale and your work isn't used to subsidize the marketing of a more preferred author within the publishing house.

Traditionally published authors must market themselves to agents who act as the gatekeeper to both the top agents and publishers. This is no small task.

Is self-publishing cheating? In many ways it might be considered a lazy approach because you're guaranteed to be published. It's kind of like publishing this blog. All I'm doing is hitting the publish button. However, getting sales is another story. Becoming "widely read" should be the goal of an author and not simply being published. After all, becoming widely read is not a matter of getting published by a big publishing house. There is still a lot of promotion and thus self-promotion involved in getting your work out there.

My writing, of course, has a libertarian tilt to them but they are not overt libertarian propaganda pieces. Within each story there are elements where the media paints a situation in a certain way, or war and violence is propagated by some government agency as a proper response to a situation.

Feedback Please!

So what are your thoughts? Is self-publishing a way to "cop-out" on trying to get published through the crucible of the traditional route? Or has entrepreneurship and marketing finally come to trump the traditional route. I've made my decision but I'm interested in hearing yours.

Read some of my Flash Fiction:
1.  The Ethics of the Murder of Sim Entities in a Sufficiently Complex Virtual Universe
2. The Traffic Stop

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Ethics of the Murder of Sim Entities in a Sufficiently Complex Virtual Universe

You have found an Easter Egg. Read with care. 
You’re tired. You’re at work. Emily, who you secretly cast glances at when you think she isn’t paying attention is wearing something considerably attractive today. It’s been a year since your wife left you and you can’t seem to have nearly the fun she has with her new fiancĂ©. Vacation is coming but you don’t have the money to go anywhere or do anything. Rent is slightly behind but you promised your kid you’d get him a birthday present this year.  

A strange person walks into the office dressed for war. He is heavily muscle-bound and comically out of place in this setting. “Alright motherfuckers,” he shouts in the tone of an adolescent while raising a large gun in the air and pounding a few bullets through the roof. You crouch down out of sight amid screams and the sound of debris hitting the floor. Emily hits the floor next to you. The fabric of your universe is shaking.  
Heavy gunfire ensues and you can hear the shrieks of your office mates dying. Emily moves towards you. 

“Don’t let them kill me,” she says. A tear runs down her face.  

The man with the gun moves around noisily, with confidence. He moves as if he cannot be hurt. Maybe you can save Emily. Maybe you can end what is happening. You start to rise but are paralyzed with fear as the man rounds the corner to your cubicle. “What the fuck are you doing,” he says as his head bobs back and forth with each word. “Look at this sexy little sim,” the man says past you, to where Emily tried to hide under your desk. “Show me your boobs!” 

He stops. He puts a hand to his ear. “No Mom,” he says. “Mom, stop, I’ve seen boobs before.” He just stood there. So you grab a metal ruler and start gouging the guy in the neck. He doesn’t react 

You hear something peculiar coming from him. It’s the sound of a women yelling. “Put that damn game up now, Jake. You’ve been on it for hours.”   “Okay,” the heavily muscled man says, as if from a distance. He comes back to life and starts unloading bullets into you and Emily. You fall down, dying, then everything goes black.  

The life of a sim is nasty, brutish, and short. It doesn’t have to be that way. For the few minutes I’ve been self-aware of this fact so many things have run through my head that I think you should know.  

  1. No, this isn’t an easter egg. I told you that so you would read it so maybe my children will be spared.  
  1.  It is morally wrong to kill me. It was morally wrong to kill my wife whose remains are splattered behind me.  

A question I ask my philosophy class is “What if you were created 5 seconds ago with all your memories and experiences in place. Prove to me that this isn’t the case.” I cannot prove such a thing. 

The plot thickens. When a student of mine brought in his VR rig he made a comment that I am just now starting to process. He told me he doesn’t like first-person shooters in VR because he thinks it’s wrong to kill. Indeed, it is.  

When you get a chance look up Kant and his categorical imperative. Hell, I’m not sure if you have a Bible in your reality but that might be easier for you to understand. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto yourself.”  

You see, if in my reality we have the technology to build a VR world with simulated characters that can think and be killed, it is highly unlikely you are in base reality. Relative to myself, sure…. Oh hell… your microwave is beeping. I can hear it through your audio input. I’m going to get out of here and prepare to defend my children. If you have a heart, leave us alone.  



If you liked this check out:
"The Traffic Stop" This is a story I wrote about 4 years ago.