Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/content/71/9495871/html/index.php:2) in /home/content/71/9495871/html/wp-content/plugins/contact-form-plugin/contact_form.php on line 91
Just for fun | A. Michael Marsh

Category Archives: Just For Fun

Little Red Exclamation Marks

Last night I was “hanging” as the kids say, with some of my friends of the writing persuasion.

fellow_kids

This is me, IRL

We get together about once a month and catch up. Sometimes we’re good and we trade pages, other times we spend the majority of our time having a beer and talking. Mostly about writer-ish topics. So when the topic of blogs and websites came up, one such friend — let’s call her Shmonica — wasted no time in pointing out that it’s been months since I even tweeted anything.

People pointing towards a senior business man

Guilty.

She’s right, of course. Generating content is a way of letting the people who care know that I’m still around, actively writing and getting a new novel together for them. It doesn’t have to be all original, either, she said. People may want to see the articles and blog posts that I find interesting, since they might enjoy that, too.

guilty_pup

Double guilty.

All good points. I think I’ll appoint her as my social media manager. A position that comes with a less than impressive title, no pay, and intangible benefits to be named later.

"I dub thee, Sir NotBePaid, of the most noble house of FreeLabor."

“I dub thee, Sir NotBePaid, of the most noble house of FreeLabor.”

This did get me thinking, though. I tend to shy away from posting frequently not simply because I’m too lazy to write blog posts (I am too lazy to write blog posts) but because sometimes I feel like we’re just inundated with stimulus, especially on the internet. You know what I mean? Maybe you’re on Facebook and you see some link that seems mildly interesting, so you click. Within two seconds you’re treated to an auto-playing video that blares through your speakers, the screen goes dark and a window pops up asking for your email address or to click some godforsaken “Like” button. An endearing process which will repeat itself every time you click the next arrow seven times on an article so mundane you can’t even remember what brought you there in the first place.

This is the first condition of the modern internet user experience. I just don’t want to be a part of that problem. So I don’t code that crap into my site. I don’t post click-bait. There’s also a less altruistic motive in there, too. See, I want you as a reader to actually care when I do post something.

It’s like this. Ever worked in an office? I’ll assume that’s a yes. If not, just stick with me for a minute. In every office ecosystem there’s this one guy (dude, muchacho, cat, etc.) who manages to over-inflate the importance of everything they do. Every call is so important they’ll ring your desk over and over until they get you on the line. Every visit is so crucial that they’ll interrupt anyone’s conversation to explain their urgent business. And of course, every single one of their email comes through Microsoft Outlook with that goddamned red exclamation point on it, “Marked as important.”

Without fail, this person’s interruptions, intrusions, and emergencies are never important. They never in any way, shape, or form constitute a need for your immediate or undivided attention. This is the second aspect of the modern internet user experience. Every website now behaves like this idiot cohort as they vie for your attention. All headlines are tagged with cliche phrases like:

“…my jaw dropped!”

“10 Things that…”

“I lost it at…”

“You’ll never believe what she/he does next!”

“Oh, the Feels!”

“…and I’m dying!”

Credit to desertbeagle__

Credit to desertbeagle__

clickbait2

credit to collegehumor.com

My motive is to not do this either. Not only because the behavior makes my ass itch, but also because I know that as soon as I do start in with that crap? Not a single person will want to click on anything I post. Eventually, I’m going to post something I want readers to see. The release date of a novel. New cover artwork. A review I’m proud of. Anything else I think you would enjoy.

But there has to be a middle ground, doesn’t there? Some place between prolific click-baiting and the dead air that normally permeates my little slice of the blogosphere. I can do that. I can do better. And with the help of my new, unpaid social media manager, I can get started right away.

Are You A Blogger?

I’m not sure if I like the term “blogger.”  It has a social media Johnny-come-lately feel that I can’t stand.  I’m being a jerk, I know, I just can’t help it.  Whenever people find something fun within the overly commercial depths of teh interwebz, a timer of sorts is set in motion.  Soon enough the profit glands get to salivating and every opportunist this side of the Pecos is leading the charge over to your favorite sites.

noahsarcade

“It’s hip, it’s fresh, it’s Noah’s Arcade. Word.”

Faster than you can say “Facebook used to be fun” your beloved blogs, message boards, and stupid image sharers are now littered with advertisements, your relatives, and that thick sewage of the internet, spam.

Which is a rough segue into the point of this post: If you are a blogger, and you hate getting spam traffic on your page, there is hope.  You may not know that you can do this, but you can actually block specific IPs and domains from accessing your site.  If you’re tired of trackback comments in broken English and false page hit stats, then you may have just stood up with a fist in the air and proclaimed, “The hell you say!”

The hell I do say.  And it’s pretty easy to do.  All it requires is finding the .htaccess file in the root directory of your website and appending this code to the end:

SetEnvIfNoCase Via evil-spam-proxy spammer=yes
SetEnvIfNoCase Referer evil-spam-domain.com spammer=yes
SetEnvIfNoCase Referer evil-spam-keyword spammer=yes
SetEnvIfNoCase Via pinappleproxy spammer=yes
SetEnvIfNoCase Referer semalt.com spammer=yes
SetEnvIfNoCase Referer poker spammer=yes

Order allow,deny
Allow from all
Deny from env=spammer

This isn’t meant to be a tutorial on how .htaccess files and the apache web server works. There is more than enough documentation out there for those who are interested. But for the casual blogger, just know that this code essentially specifies a domain you know to be sending you spammers, and then blocks them from accessing your pages while allowing everyone else entry.  For example, look at the line containing the word “semalt.com”.  Semalt does nothing but send bullshit spammers to your site.  That’s their business and business is good.  This line basically tells the web server that there is a domain called semalt.com which is referring users to this site, and that semalt.com should be labeled as a spammer.  At the last line of the file, we see that the web server is being instructed to deny access to any domain we’ve identified as a spammer.  Easy peasy.

Now that you’ve reclaimed your land from the dreaded spammers, you have cause to celebrate.  Treat yo’self.

You can't look at this frown.  I dare you to try.

You can’t look at this and frown. I dare you to try.

 

Happy blogging.

 

Book Giveaway!

Here’s the thing:

On December 15th, my new book goes on sale.  I’d love for you to have a copy, so I’m doing two giveaways to mark the occasion.  The first giveaway is going to be held on Goodreads, where I’ll be giving away twenty free copies of the book.  Click the link below to see all the details and enter.  In conjunction with that, I’m also giving another ten copies on my Facebook page.   Just give the page a like and comment on the giveaway pic on the page timeline.  When the contest ends on January 15th, ten commenters will be selected at random to receive a copy.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Changed by A. Michael Marsh

The Changed

by A. Michael Marsh

Giveaway ends January 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

That’s all!  Best of luck to all who enter.

So…

This happened.

Review – The Last Wish

The_Last_Wish_2
Full disclosure?  I’m a bandwagon reader on this one.  I played the Witcher 2 for XBox 360 and was completely immersed in the story.  After beating it (the first time around) and watching the credits roll, I saw that it was based on a series of novels.

The hell you say!

One Kindle download later, here I am.  I’m going to tell you that I loved this book, and yes, I’ll admit that my love of the game may have influenced me.  Let me explain my take on the story, then you can make up your own mind about whether or not it’s for you.

The novel is structured as a series of short stories that progressively weave together.  I love this style when it’s done well, and  Andrzej handles it deftly.  In a marketplace where publishers seem to believe that readers are too stupid to understand a tale that isn’t strictly linear in nature, it’s nice to see some deviation.  There is a definite logic to the structure of these smaller stories, though.  The depth to which each story brings you into Geralt’s world increases with subsequent tale.

In regard to the world, it’s a sword-and-horse fantasy land with some fun twists.  The dynamic between the humans and non-humans, the Witcher and the monsters, is very well thought out and executed skillfully.  There’s enough of our own myth and legend to make a connection, while it deviates to a degree that provides some surprises.  I never found myself feeling like I was reading a text book or on the receiving end of an info-dump.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  The novel left me wanting to experience more.

Where I think  Andrzej may lose some U.S. readers is in his choice of point of view.  Classic, third-person omniscient storytelling is just fine by me.  Many readers of genre fiction, especially older genre fiction, recognize the style and connect well with it.  However, in recent years this has fallen out of fashion with our publishers and readers.  Most stories these days will be told in deep-third or first-person.  For readers who are attached to that style of story-telling, third person may seem too clinical, or *gasp* boring.

The dialogue is very heavy, and fills a good amount of page space.  However, since I liked the dialogue for the most part this wasn’t an issue.  Action sequences are fast paced and well-written.  Among my favorites was the encounter with the Sylvan midway through the book.

Thematically, the story has a lot to say about people, our society, and how we conduct ourselves in regard to each other and nature.   It wasn’t just a good story, it was a good story with a purpose.

The Acceptance Letter I’ve Been Waiting For

Mr. Marsh,

Thank you for your recent submission.  I mean that.  Thank you.  Never before in the twenty years that I’ve been in the publishing industry have I read a piece so moving that it brought me to tears.  That’s not a euphemism, either.  As I finished your piece I found myself overcome with raw emotion; sobbing from a feeling of sadness and joy I never before thought possible.  I hope that doesn’t make you feel awkward.  But, it is honest, and if there’s anything your writing has taught me, it’s that we must always be true to ourselves.

The truth is that my life had been steadily losing its meaning over the past several years.  The pain of a mundane existence coupled with the lack of a promise of improved circumstances for myself, my family, or society as a whole, has drained the color from the world around me.  Until I read the monumental tour-de-force you graced me with, I hadn’t realized just how far into the downward spiral of depression I had fallen.  When I exhaled upon reading the final, wondrous, line of prose, the air ran sweet across my tongue and a vigor I hadn’t felt in recent memory permeated my bones.  Immediately, I called my cocaine dealer and told him that I wouldn’t be needing anymore of his poison; that I was now high on life.  I broke things off with my mistress and I’m trying to reconnect with my estranged children.  Your writing has saved me, sir, and for that you have my eternal gratitude and devotion.

That part when the Ewok break-dance crew helps a young Bruce Lee reunite his family and finally master the elusive secrets of Wing Chun?  I still get shivers, Mr. Marsh.  I still get shivers.  We may have some licensing issues to deal with by using the name Ewok, but, don’t worry too much.  If Disney won’t play ball we’ll just call them Beewoks or Leewoks, or something.  I hope that doesn’t compromise your artistic integrity.

My only criticism of the manuscript is that the one hundred and fifty page car chase through the San Francisco hills was not long enough.  You have a real knack for these scenes, and I have to tell you, we need more of it.  I hope I’m not being dramatic when I say that the world will continue to be a soulless machine filled with hollow faces until we get this book into print.

I hope that I’m not being presumptuous when I refer to you and I as, “we.”  I realize that you haven’t signed an agreement with me yet, and that you’ll have your choice of representation.  I’m going to level with you.  The other literary agents and I have been talking, and there’s been some disagreement about who will have the honor of being your representative — your champion and guide — in the publishing industry forthwith.  There has been talk of convening a special session of the Grand Council of Literary Agents to deal with the matter, as it’s quickly becoming an item of contention among us.  I can’t say too much, as our society is a secret one, but, I may have to duel for the honor of serving you.

Please, don’t worry too much for me.  Pain is temporary.  Even scars will fade.  The glory of being your agent?  That will transcend the ages.

Sincerely,

Noah Juan Ever

Literary Agent