March update

My Smashwords promotion earlier had a bit of success.  Walking the Planck had some sales, way cool!  In case the title doesn’t make it clear, it’s got space pirates – yarrrr!  My creatively corny classic about these cutthroat corsairs is on Amazon as well.

I’m working on a couple of others now.  One will be my first effort at the Space Vixen Trek line, which – believe it or not – I’ve had on the back burner since about 1994.  It’s basically a prequel of Walking the Planck.  I’m in the process of reworking it.  My writing skills have improved since then, so the results should be interesting.  The other one is Space Vixen Trek Episode 17, which will be quite a wild ride indeed.  It’s sort of alternate history, sort of conspiracy, sort of retro-futurism, sort of space opera.  I have it over half done, filling in some blanks.

I’m up to thirty six articles on Return of Kings, with two more in the pipeline presently.  Also, I’ve made my debut on Occidental Quarterly, with an article about Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, about whom they have an earlier article too.  He got the ball rolling with the European Union, but unfortunately happened to be the archetypal ultra-wealthy dick given to social engineering, thinking he knew better than everyone else on how to run their societies.  Worse, he wanted to destroy diversity in the name of diversity, and didn’t care for self-determination either.  I try to be as fair as possible, but it’s not very PC, due to the subject matter.  The greater problem is that subjects like this are taboo to discuss.  I guess I’ll just have to be deplorable then.

Finally, I’m down 25 pounds from my diet.  It’s not as hardcore as my earlier attempts, but I’m not arguing with results too much.  I took off for a few days, now back at it again for another month.

March update

Two more paperback offerings

I’m pleased to announce two more paperbacks.  With lessons learned from Medieval Vixen Quest Episode 0:  The Search For Shlock, I was able to get Space Vixen Trek Episode 13:  The Final Falafel converted in just a day, and the cover worked right the first time. If anything I wrote will get me a fatwa, it will be this one.  If my head gets cut off on TV, it’s been nice knowing you folks.  Come to think of it, that one might get me put on a Scientology hit list too!

See it in all its glory, for the price of $6.66 (yes, this is symbolic).  Amazon still has it in ebook format, and so does Smashwords.

My third paperback release thus far is Righteous Seduction, which took me a good bit longer to convert.  I got the margins as small as I could, and the font size at 11 points for the most part (as I don’t want to cause anyone eyestrain) but it’s still a monster.  The word count is slightly above Dostoyevsky’s Crime And Punishment, and even longer yet than Moby Dick.  It’s hard to imagine that I wrote a book about picking up babes that’s the length of a classic Russian novel!

Anyway, it’s up on Amazon now.  Likewise, Amazon also features it as an ebook, and Smashwords too.  The advantages to the ebook format are a better price point (a 470 page book does cost to print), graphics in color, and hyperlinks.

I’m pretty excited about it.  The old classics have lots of information about Outer Game.  Mine does too, but I focus more on Inner Game and self-improvement.  Righteous Seduction touches on subjects not very much explored elsewhere:  the history of the dating scene, philosophy, the place of men in today’s society, the economics of the sexual marketplace (and an economy it truly is), maintaining relationships, ethics (mine might be the only pro-family values pickup book out there), and more.

Masculine Development reviewed it a little while back.  My only quibble is that I do cover some topics at considerable length; my analysis of the Friend Zone problem is thus far the most extensive one out there, for instance.  For a sample of my writing, I’ve included the diet and fitness sections right here as a free gift to the public.

And speaking of diets, I’m down twenty pounds in a month.  It’s slow going (as diets always are), but I’ve had to retire my existing pants and the ones I have on now are getting loose.  Other than that, 2017 has been fairly good to me so far.  I have some other books in the pipeline.  I might could release a compilation of some of my short stories, though I’m a little stuck on thinking up a catchy title (of all things to be blocked on).  Anyway, stay tuned, kids!

Two more paperback offerings

What’s the big deal about fat chicks?

There’s been a lot of negative talk in the Manosphere about fat chicks.  Some say that fat acceptance is a subversive manifestation of cultural Marxism.  If we posit that this is a factor, then it’s only half of the picture.

Remember that the cultural Marxist playbook is about keeping everyone dissatisfied and stirring up divisions in society.  Given that, it’s not too much of a stretch to see that another angle of attack would be to make guys dissatisfied with almost all women out there.  What I mean is promotion of the “heroin chic” as the epitome of feminine beauty.  I’m not convinced that cultural Marxism is behind all this, but this does lead into an important point.

Body mass and the Overton Window

The Overton Window molds public opinion; the short version is that certain positions are deemed “acceptable” and others outside are considered “extremist”.  This window shifts over time, and this can be deliberately engineered.  That’s something that propagandists in television and Hollywood have been using to great effect to nudge the public closer to accepting SJW agendas.  That, of course, has moved our culture light-years to the left.  (For example, who in 1986 – or even 1996 – would have predicted that the US military would start  paying for sex changes for soldiers in 2016?)  However, the Overton Window also is a good model for how society is led to consider what is hot and what is not.

Here’s what I’m talking about.  The average American body mass index has gone from 25 in 1960 to 28 in 2002, thus from the upper end of “normal” to the upper end of “chunky”.  As of 2014, the average man is 5’9″ and weighs 196 pounds; the average woman is 5’4″ and weighs 169 pounds.  This puts the average 2014 BMI for men at 28.9 and women at 29.0, almost in the officially fat range.

Meanwhile, the public’s tastes haven’t followed the trend.  Instead, the ideal feminine body type being promoted (later I’ll discuss who’s promoting it) has gone from the “normal” range to the “underweight” range (BMI 17-19; likely BMI 16 means dead).  That sounds like quite a recipe for dissatisfaction, doesn’t it?

I can hear it already – “to hell with American women”.  Actually, the rest of the world isn’t too far behind.  Trends are going up everywhere; like feminism, this isn’t just something we can run away from and expect it will never catch up to us.  Actually, the Middle East is right up there with us, and Pacific Islanders are leading the pack.

Aesthetic standards change over time

Standards of beauty vary from one culture to the other.  They change over time too.  That being said, there are some attributes that change according to the dictates of fashion, and others that are basically set in stone.  We’ll cover the former now, and the latter in the next section.  Female body weight is one of the changing standards.

Ice Age statuary includes a number of female figurines, all extremely chubby – no doubt this ideal represented abundance, very desired in times of great scarcity.  Greco-Roman statuary typically represented what we’d consider verging on full figured, though not too busty.  From Renaissance paintings, we see a number of quite voluptuous women.  Ideals in the 20th Century varied somewhat, but ended up going sharply downward, and today’s legacy is the “heroin chic”.

What caused weight to go up in post-Industrial Age times?  First, the public is working easier jobs, getting less exercise, and relying more on automobile transit.  Food became very cheap and plentiful by historic standards.  At the same time, it got increasingly less healthy, full of processed crap from agribusiness.  Eventually, the public (both women and men) started getting a lot bigger.  The jogging fad of the 1970s and the popularity of weightlifting not long after didn’t quite stop this trend.  In the 1990s, we started spending increasing amounts of time glued to our computers, with predictable results.  These days, interest in children’s sports has dropped dramatically.  Finally, there’s a lot of confusion about what diets are best.

Meanwhile, the fashion industry pushed for increasingly thinner models, and Hollywood followed along.  Consequentially, the ideal of feminine beauty versus what average women actually look like became increasingly distant.

What female shape is it natural to appreciate?

What does a Barbie doll have in common with chubby Ice Age figurines like the Venus of Willendorf?  They have bust-waist-hip proportions in the ideal range.  The reason why this is ideal is because this is associated with fertility.  A woman with typically masculine proportions – flat chest and narrow hips – would have the appearance of being physically immature.  Also, a woman whose waist is larger than her bust and hips – similar to a guy with a beer gut – probably has metabolic syndrome, which generally includes PCOS.  So the reason why neither look particularly feminine to us is because it’s a matter of natural selection over hundreds of thousands of years.  So it’s natural to desire any woman with curves in all the right places, whether she has a classic slender hourglass figure or is quite voluptuous – it’s all good.

So instead of thinking of the ideal woman as someone who looks like she just got out of a POW camp, instead we should look to the movie superstars of the past:  Mae West, Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, Mamie Van Doren, Sophia Lauren, Raquel Welch, and so forth.  None of them were exactly tubby, but they certainly had curves in all the right places.  This is certainly not the “heroin chic” ideal that Hollywood and the fashion industry today is lauding as the epitome of womanhood.  Once more, these represent ideals, and not all – or even most – of the public will fit the bill.

The point is that we should, as individuals, ignore the efforts by the media and the fashion industry to push the Overton Window to a body type that’s both extremely rare and a bit unhealthy.  It also wouldn’t hurt if we loosened up our requirements a bit, within reason.  This opens you up to a more target-rich environment.  Think about it – if 80% of women only give the time of day to 20% of men, does it make sense to weed out all but the skinniest third of the takers?

Who is setting the trends these days?

It’s no secret that the fashion industry is dominated by gay guys.  Hollywood certainly has an above-average proportion of gays too.  The fact is, the male aesthetic is linear and the female aesthetic is curvy.  The “friends of Dorothy” just don’t appreciate curves.  Gays like “twinks” quite a bit, so they’re projecting the female equivalent of what they like onto public tastes.  Thus heroin chic it is.

This isn’t the first time that fashion standards have gone a little crazy.  Chinese foot binding, African lip plates, and facial piercings over here – need I say more?  Worse, what you see is not always what you get.  Due to airbrushing and photo processing, women on magazine covers – and increasingly in the movies – aren’t really what the models and actresses actually look like anyway.  In fact, with Photoshop, you can even make a supermodel out of a slice of pizza.  So the question is this:  should we accept what the gay fashion designers say is the ideal feminine type, or go back to the curves we like?

Another factor is social pressure, best illustrated by an old joke:

Q:  How are fat chicks like mopeds?
A:  They’re fun to ride until your friends find out.

The Manosphere is a bit guilty of this too, with guys bragging about skinny “HB9s” and “HB10s”.  Really, who cares what your friends think, or especially someone online you’ve never met?

“But I have standards!”

Sure, everyone has standards.  If your love life is everything you want it to be, run with it.  If not, then making reasonable compromises is the most rational strategy.  This doesn’t mean that you have to regard a really big one in the same way you do a skinny one, or even date her if you don’t feel like it.  Remember, I said reasonable compromises!

I have standards too.  Beyond a certain point, things do get a little bit iffy.  Still, I’ll cut her some slack if she has enough good characteristics to compensate.  For instance, a pretty face and great hair go a long way with me.  I would have missed a good number of opportunities if I’d felt bound to arbitrary standards set by other people.  My first really skinny girlfriend was my third girlfriend.  (Unfortunately, she had some personality issues, and we’ll leave it at that.)  I’m not sorry that a woman who today would be average-sized took my virginity.

I have enough data points to describe some of the good characteristics of fat chicks.  They usually aren’t stuck up, and personality is important to me, no matter what she looks like.  (I know how to deflect a Bitch Shield, but I don’t bother to game someone who thinks she’s God’s gift to men; that attitude is a complete turn-off.)  Many are freaks in bed.  I’ve found that the skinny ones – with some exceptions – are a little more likely to be pillow princesses.  Finally, big gals almost always have one advantage:  huge tracts of land, all natural.  I love to bury my face in a big pair of sweater puppies!

Does this mean we should get on board with fat acceptance?

Although I encourage a reasonable amount of flexibility in personal standards, I consider it a bad thing for people just to let themselves go.  There comes a point where it starts getting unhealthy, and people should respect their bodies.  The fact is that waistlines have been expanding both for men and women.  (Not all that many guys have warrior physiques these days.)  It’s a complicated issue, and it’s not going to go away overnight.   Better information about diet, more exercise, and doing something about the crap that agribusiness puts in our food would go a long way.

I’m also skeptical that fat shaming works.  The usual result will not be to take heed, but rather to reject the message, or run home crying and break out the ice cream.  Some might consider that funny in a junior high sort of way, but it’s certainly not constructive.  Let’s remember that honey catches more flies than vinegar.  Many of us have improved our physiques; myself included.  If we can find an opportunity to subtly bring this up and provide some constructive information, that will give better results.

What’s the big deal about fat chicks?

Amazon’s paperback creation feature

After uploading The Search For Shlock yesterday, I noticed that Amazon now can set up paperback printing through the same interface. I was a bit cautious of dipping my toes into the print world, but I’m curious by nature.

Before, Amazon had Createspace for printed books.  They might be moving over to this new platform some time in the future, but for now, it looks like this is another front end into this process.  The consensus at the forums is that Createspace is still the better way to go, but I gave it a whirl anyway.  Ebooks are increasingly popular, but some folks (like me) prefer printed copy, so I should serve my audience by offering a printed version.  Anyway, here’s what the process is like for those who might wish to reformat an ebook for print, or create a printed book from scratch.

For those familiar with publishing ebooks, setting up a printed book is considerably different. You can upload a Microsoft Word document, but you’re going to have to reformat things; you can’t just use the same document with which you created your ebook, or it won’t work right.  Ebooks are meant to use flowing, resizable text; a printed book will need the layout of how it will look exactly.  This includes the page size too (if it’s not in the list in Page Layout, which it probably won’t be, then select More Paper Sizes at the bottom).  So it’s basically a matter of desktop publishing.

You’ll have to Read The Friendly Manual for this, but I’ll cover some highlights and additional pointers. First of all, pick out a size for the book.  Then go to Page Layout in Word and set the exact same Size accordingly.  Turn on “mirror margins” as the outside and inner margins may be a bit different.  There are guidelines for the margins, but I found that I had to set the outer margin two hundredths of an inch wider than recommended to get the final copy error-free.  Since more whitespace will drive up the printing cost, you don’t want them to be too wide.  I had to adjust the “header from top” and “header from  bottom” values as well.

The more words you can get on a page, the lower you can keep your final price, though don’t go with anything so small that it will cause eyestrain. Stick to common, visually-pleasing fonts (such as Times New Roman), 10-12 points for the body text.  Note that although fully-justified paragraphs are a no bueno for ebooks, it just looks better on a printed book.  Leave an extra line before any page breaks, or it will expand out the final line in the last paragraph.  You can set up a custom Word style to help keep everything standardized.

Setting up a table of contents turned out to be a pain. One way to do it is make a line for each chapter, and to generate the page number, go References –> Cross Reference, then Reference Type is Bookmark, Insert Reference to page number.  (If the document started as an ebook, you likely used hyperlinks to bookmarks.  If there aren’t any bookmarks, go to each chapter heading and Insert –> Bookmark.)  Any minor change will likely repaginate everything, so with each chapter line item, you’ll have to right-click on the page number and update it, every single time.  MS Word has a native TOC creator.  You’ll have to set each chapter heading to one of the “heading” type styles.  Then go to References –> Table of Contents, and it can pull in the chapter text and page number.  This will default to Courier, so you’ll have to change it to whatever you’re using elsewhere.  Whenever you repaginate, you can select all the lines in the TOC, then right-click and update all at once.

That being said, I had extreme difficulty keeping the page numbers the same after uploading the document. Word 2010 allows you to Save As PDF.  (It won’t let you edit a PDF, so don’t get rid of your Word document!)  If you have Word 2007, there’s a plugin available to save as PDF.  Uploading a PDF means that Amazon’s engine won’t reformat it and change the page numbering.  Be sure to spot-check the PDF first for correct numbering.  You did recalculate pages after the last change, didn’t you?  Word isn’t Excel!

The cover is another big challenge. There are two ways to do it.  First, you can create a wraparound image including the back, the spine (calculate this exactly based on page number and paper type; RTFM for the details), and the front, then upload as PDF.  Allow space in the lower right corner of the back page for the bar code.  The other way is to use the built-in cover creator.  Naturally, I went with the second option.  On the front, you’ll need an image (JPEG will do) at least 330 dots per inch.  On the back, you can put in your photo, your author blurb, and the book blurb.  The front image was a bit of a pain, but I got it after some trial and error.  Start getting used to making huge images.  Even with ebooks, you should go with a minimum of 1400 pixels wide and a 1×1.3 width-to-height aspect ratio.  For even the smallest size paperback (as I discovered), that’s not enough.

Unlike ebooks, you don’t get hyperlinks in print documents for obvious reasons, and they’ll show up as a minor error if they’re still there. You’ll have to spell them out in the document if you want them to appear.  (Note that Amazon’s paperback guidelines disallow references to electronic publishing, and even with ebooks you can’t link to competing sites.)  Also, go to File –> Check For Issues –> Inspect Document to get any weird XML stuff cleared out; I had some of that which kept causing footer problems.  On that subject, you can put your name, title, and page number in the header.  Word allows different headers for even and odd pages.

Finally, remember that readers will be turned off by obvious mistakes, and there’s likely less tolerance for minor formatting problems than there would be for ebooks. Typos and misspellings always stick out like a sore thumb.  With an ebook, you could fix any problems and upload a new version, but you won’t get the same luxury to fix a printed book that’s already been shipped.

As for the royalties, it’s 60% of retail price minus printing costs, taxes, and tax withholding. They do tell you the printing cost, but (thus far) details on taxes and withholding are a bit unclear.  I kept mine barely above cost ($7.99 for 80K words), as I don’t want to price myself out of the market.  For the author, you might well get more bang for the bucks with ebooks, and be able to offer a lower price point (my ebook version of The Search For Shlock is $2.99).

On the other hand, 60% is likely better than you’d get with a book published by traditional print media (which is a notoriously hard business to break into for a starting author, especially if they don’t like how you look).  They have professionals to do all the proofreading and typesetting stuff, and that does cost.  If you have the talent to do all that yourself, then you’re cutting out the middleman.  The one advantage that traditional print media still has is that they have an advertising department and can get your books into bookstores.

So what’s next for me? After this, I might release Righteous Seduction in print form, as well as compilations of short stories.  I have lots of short stories in the pipeline, at various stages of completion.  This will be a major effort, but stay tuned!

Amazon’s paperback creation feature

Book Announcement: Medieval Vixen Quest Episode 0: The Search For Shlock

This one has been quite a long-term project for me, and has finally come to fruition.  The ad copy goes:

In this epic tale of thud and blunder, eight youths are wasting a beautiful summer afternoon pretending to be adventurers in a generic medieval-style fantasy world, frequently interrupted by arguing about the role-playing game’s prissy rules and driving each other up the wall. When one of them casts a spell for real, what happens next makes one of those corny 1980s books warning about the “dangers” of role-playing games seem like a walk in the park.

The story is more cheesy and corny than Frito Pie, all in good fun. Literary standards will be mocked! The Fourth Wall will be broken! They must save the idyllic fantasy world from icky aliens!

What’s there not to love?  You know you want it!  Get it here:

Book Announcement: Medieval Vixen Quest Episode 0: The Search For Shlock

Promising things ahead

I’m up to my 26th Return of Kings posting, with another likely to be released soon.  The latest, Why Free Market Economics Isn’t Working As Advertised, has generated a good bit of controversy.  (For those who are curious, the heading image is Adam Smith.)  I always thought that Space Vixen Trek Episode 13: The Final Falafel would be the most controversial thing I ever wrote; not quite so!

To begin, I really wish people would read what I actually wrote, not what they think I wrote.  A point that I should have made clearer is that a free market (like any economic system) is pretty much an ideal construct that doesn’t exist in real life.  Still, in the beginning, things were about as close to the ideal as they’re ever going to get.  That did, in fact, work pretty well, and was friendly to small business owners and free farmers.  It’s gone a long way from that, for the reasons that I documented, and others I didn’t have the space to go into.  Some of it was unavoidable; it takes a lot of capital to develop modern technology.  (For example, when I had an idea for satellite-broadcast radio, my allowance money wasn’t enough to afford an FCC permit, and nobody gives a multi-million dollar loan to some fourteen year old.  So someone else developed it sooner; it is what it is.)  However, a lot of the ways capitalism got corrupted certainly were avoidable; for instance, if politicians were more interested in looking out for the common people instead of taking bribes campaign contributions from the ultra-wealthy.

In any event, I can respect someone who gets rich through hard work, ingenuity, and dedication; that’s a positive good which rightly should be rewarded.  However, someone who gets to be CEO through a game of boardroom musical chairs isn’t always another Hank Rearden or John Galt.  Also, those who believe that you must be some kind of commie if you don’t want to be ruled by a bunch of corrupt billionaires are engaging in the fallacy of logical bifurcation.  Let’s just say that those who short-sheet their workers, screw their consumers, and engage in social engineering are asking for trouble.  Really, what we need is an improved form of capitalism.  There is one already; it’s called distributism.

Anyway, enough of the Dismal Science of economics.  I started a diet in late December, a little earlier than most people traditionally do.  The drop in scale weight isn’t all that much yet, but I’m down a couple of inches in the waist, six inches below my high water mark.  If I can keep this up through April, hopefully I’ll be looking a lot more like a Greek statue rather than an off-season linebacker.  My veins are popping out; I can see the difference already.  For those who are curious, I’m doing what worked before.  To turbocharge my results, I’ll have to start hitting the gym more frequently.

Finally, I’ve finished a book that has been kicking around in “edit hell” for years.  I’m waiting until tomorrow to release it, though; stay tuned!

Promising things ahead