The Hugo Award

 

 

The Hugo Award is huge. That is, if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

There are a few inherent problems with any type of system to classify one thing ‘better’ than another. The first is it is only an opinion. Unless it’s surgery. Then you might take the ‘one is better than the other’ (hospital/surgeon/procedure/et. al.) a bit more seriously. The second is the method by which the final tally is drawn. If the competition comes down to a popularity contest, over the quality of the writing, then how seriously can you take the result?

 

Well, as it turns out, pretty damn serious.

 

As a writer in today’s market, the onus lays on the author to promote their work. One must have a ‘platform’ to get any recognition from the Big Four (that is, the four major publishing houses being, Simon & Schuster (a subsidiary of CBS Corporation), HarperCollins (a subsidiary of NewsCorp), Penguin Random House (a subsidiary of Bertelsmann and Pearson), and Hachette Livre (an original French publisher that, among other things, purchased Time-Warner’s book publishing division).

 

If a writer can become so popular as to have one hundred thousand (100,000) fans following them, ready to purchase the next thing that comes off of that writer’s fingers (ahem, JK Rowling) within 24 hours, then you’re platform will get the Big Four’s attention, along with a big, fat advance check (yeah, they still do that).

 

But, if you don’t… Well, good luck to you then

 

That luck comes in the form of self-publishing. Amazon, GoodReads (recently purchased by Amazon), Smash Words, etc. to the rescue. It is through these organizations that a writer can expand their fan base (a/k/a platform) to one day aspire to the numbers the Big Four are looking for.

 

If the writing happens to be good enough to earn an award or two along the way, and you can hang the book’s title on ‘____ Award Winner’, then you’re on your way. The more awards, the more exposure to a greater audience, the bigger the platform.

 

As an aside, almost ALL of the awards are a product of fees paid by the authors in order for their work to be entered in that contest. Yeah, a starving artist has to pay to get their work read? Say it ain’t so.

 

Which brings us to this year’s Hugo’s and the embarrassment that is Puppy-Gate.

 

Make no mistake, the Hugo Award is a popularity contest no different from television’s The People’s Choice Awards, (As a writer, I’m supposed to eschew any and all things TV. Meh. Call me a rebel.) That award at least is shameless in it’s celebration of all the popular (usually beautiful) winners.

 

While I would LOVE to be a part of the Hugo society, I can’t afford it. Admittedly, I’m not willing to make the sacrifices those who have won previously and those who aspire to win, are making. One must LIVE for that goal. All things must be put aside for the prize. Family, friends, outside work, hell, being outside. All are put on the sacrificial alter of building a platform. Authors like Marko Kloos and Annie Bellet, who withdrew their names from the contest after all of the hardships and sacrifices they have made, should be celebrated for standing firm against the whoreish Puppy-gaters. Hopefully, they are garnering the sales, even if they don’t get the trophy.

 

George RR Martin is quoted as saying The reward for popularity is popularity! It’s truckloads of money! Do you need the trophy, too?”

 

Couldn’t have said it better myself. I guess that’s why he’s George RR Martin.

 

In a popularity contest, it can come down to who has the greater chops. And I’ve read few with greater chops than Theodore Beale.

 

He is the embodiment of PT Barnum’s quote, “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right.” He has received more attention by being the leader of the Rabid Puppies and spouting his arrogant, misogynistic, bigoted, unintelligent opinions, than his writing ever garnered. Anyone remember Andrew Dice Clay? It’s a good bet they’d be best buds.

 

And you can take this to the bank – if he should put his Vox Day (Voice of God. Really?) blog on hold to write a book about PuppyGate, you can bet your sweet hard covers that the Big Four will line up to get him to sign their contracts, with checks in hand.

 

Lucky bastard.

 

A New Shed in Florida

 

An old, rusty, metal shed that had sat in the backyard for over twenty years, needed to be replaced. The bent and nearly broken door sounded like nails on a chalkboard whenever it was moved along its track. Dart and I agreed it was time to let the old thing go.

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First we did the techno-savvy thing and researched the sheds we liked online. Okay, Dart researched the sheds he liked, and showed me the ones he came up with. And, as you know, I am fully compliant, and submissive, and subservient. So, anything my husband wants is fine by me.

*snicker*

Anyway… The shed we agreed on was this gorgeous thing that looked like a little house. Well, kind of. The manufacturer, “TKO” (an alias) out of Canada, provided details of the product leaving no question unanswered, complete with a presentation of how to put the whole thing together. The two people in the video assembling it never even broke a sweat. The fact they were building it indoors, and she wore a scarf that never moved, should have been a heads up. But, hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it?

After deciding that we want this shed (we’ll call it TK), we began the process of purchasing it. Surprise, surprise. They won’t sell it directly to us. A major department store in the US is the sole distributor of this product. I won’t name names, but the major department store rhymes with Tears.

We went in to find the model TK we wanted, but they didn’t have one set up. The rep positively gushed about what a fantastic wood/plastic composite shed this was, and the price could not be beat. We agreed, after all, we’d done the research. Since we’re ordering it, and planning on assembling it ourselves, the only real drawback would be if we needed to order replacement parts. He told us that could take a while, so he suggested we order such things through TKO, rather than Tears. We nodded. A word to the wise is sufficient. Taking a deep breath, we ordered the shed, on faith that it was everything the website, and the Tears rep, claimed.

Three weeks later, the boxes arrived.

 

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This is the time to open each, and every one of these boxes, and take an inventory of every single item.

We didn’t.

First, the instruction manual. In today’s world, we do not have “Tab A into Slot B” type instructions. No. Now, it’s “Part MODFL connects to MODF9 with SC14.” And that is my interpretation, because there are very few actual words in this forty-six page book. It is ALL diagrams.

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So, after lengthy discussions regarding the placement of the floor onto the foundation we’d built, and dodging the thunderstorms (Florida, remember?), it did take a while, but once we determined which pieces were needed for the floor, we began our project.

We moved along at a brisk pace. And by brisk, I mean we could only work on the weekends, and then only when the sky wasn’t shooting lightning bolts at us.

I’ll admit, I grew more than a little frustrated, and irritated as this thing was being put together. Dart is a stubborn man who feels a bit chaffed at being told that he might be wrong. (I know, right?) So, for me, being a stickler for the instructions, had the misfortune of explaining that TKO did not agree with him on a couple of assemblage points. He eventually agreed with TKO. Not with me, of course, but with TKO.

 

02 blog

 

 

A good three weekends went by of hard work, sweat, mutual frustration, cursing, occasional blood, and then we unpacked this…

 

01a blog

 

Yes, we should have inventoried the boxes. Yes, the corners are very, very, important. Yes, the entire project came to a standstill.

Following the Tears rep’s original advice, we tried to order through TKO. They sent us back to Tears, where it was explained to us (via email) that the part we need is on backorder. Of course it is. It’s part of the wall. What company would keep extra inventory of such non-important things like wall slats? ARGH!

In the four weeks and two days it took to get the replacement part, the floor had started to warp. We placed cinderblocks to counteract the bend, but it was going to be a struggle.

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We had tried to ignore the giggles from the neighbors, who had decided that we weren’t going to ever finish the thing. It grew to be quite the embarrassment.

After the parts did arrive, we took time off from work and dedicated ourselves to finishing it. Once again, Dart and the TKO manual disagreed. I was adamant that Dart was doing it wrong. However, it turned out he was right. The diagram showed the little guy backwards, to indicate the work was being done inside. You’d have to see it, but, yes, I apologized.

The shed, now complete, was worth all of the hard work and effort.

Complete

 

I’d like to see that young woman with the immovable scarf who helped assemble it indoors on the video, come to Florida and try it. It’s safe to say that, at the very least, her scarf would move. She would also be drenched in sweat, cursing like a sailor, and threatening to shove the instruction manual where the sun don’t shine.