Dec 28, 2016

The Algorithm, the algorithm --- whatever you make of this

The GREEN EYES are listed on Inkitt, an AI-agent and publisher---"AI" here in the sense of artificial intelligence, the computer science discipline we taught the last ten years of our previous life, and "agent" in the sense of literary agent. Yes.




And they've just sent us an email. You don't have to read this, but just in case:


"Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!

Congrats! Your novel  [the GREEN EYES in our case] is in the top 10% of novels in the Genre Preliminaries and has been awarded a spot in The Final Round. Your work will now join the best performing novels from the other genres in a face-off for the $1000 Grand Prize. The Final Round is an exclusive, invite only, closed contest.
Announce the big news to your fans, and keep sharing your knockout novel if you want to be top dog! The winner will be selected by the Inkitt algorithm based on level of reader engagement so you will need to win over as many members of the crowd as possible. Call in your hypemen and round up your groupies to help you spread the word about your latest win and find new support to secure your title as Champion. 
Best of luck!
Your Inkitt Team"

Think this through. They have an algorithm---if you scroll down, you'll find a fragment of ours, written weeks ago, involving algorithms, but don't scroll down yet---an algorithm that's supposed to pick winners on the basis of readers' reading behavior. And the next thing is, they ask their authors to work around the algorithm and mobilize their "fans," no matter what. Best of luck. (For more bickering, scroll down-down.)

And here's the fragment---hold on, let's start a little competition of our own: who's the biggest fool in This Is Heaven? The mayor, Bienpensant, John himself perhaps? No---it's Inspector Mario LaStrada of course, the detective (who's still missing from or Green Eyes zoo, inexcusably). Here goes, from Chapter 41, "The Game Is up"---John's fourth and last encounter with the inspector: 


LaStrada must have found time taking a class in creative writing since he says: “Did you bring the handcuffs that you were wearing so convincingly on, on…”

(we make eye contact)

“…Tuesday,” I help out.
“Well-put,” he replies, “Tuesday night.”
“You didn’t ask me to bring them,” I say.
“You should keep them handy. It appears that the long arm of the law is not yet done with you.”

Dec 27, 2016

Menton, yesterday



Photography by Chang

We went to "celebrate" the first draft of This Is Heaven, on Dec. 25, and drove by Menton---the town between Monaco and the Italian border. This was on the way to Sospel, an ancient town nearby up in the mountains---stay tuned.

Dec 26, 2016

"Death penalty for John and me?" --- This is heaven --- teaser

We're done now with the first raft of This Is Heaven, and it ends with an Ampersant-style HEA, completely over the top, various plot lines all leading up to total bliss.

In the penultimate chapter, Alex---who's amnesic and can't remember his sexual preferences---proposes to John, and when Dr. Martin Luther Fletcher, Ben's father and the presumed MC of this, objects on religious grounds---well, you'll see (very short):





Well---he’s sorry, Dr. Fletcher tells us, but he can’t unite two men in holy matrimony. The Bible doesn’t allow it, and he’s a Christian and so on.

“The Bible says very little about homosexuality,” Alex replies. “There are very few direct references to it, and the strongest and least ambiguous ones, in Leviticus, where it’s qualified as an abomination”---he hones in on Ben’s father---“the same source, Leviticus, also forbids wearing mixed fabrics together, or trimming one’s beard, cutting your hair at the sides, planting different seeds in the same fields, and so on. Stuff we do on a daily basis and nobody complains.”

“But the penalty against homosexuality is particularly severe, namely death,” replies Dr. Fletcher.
“And you agree, Doctor? Death penalty for John and me?”
“Don’t be silly. No, of course not.”
“What should it be then, the penalty? We still penalize murder, and theft, and rape. And you agree, I guess?”

Dr. Fletcher's gasping for air.

“If you don’t want to penalize it, what’s wrong with it? It wouldn't be a sin, or would it?”

“But, Alex, you don’t even know whether you’re gay,” I say. “You want to enter a gay marriage and you don’t know whether you’re gay?”

“How would I know all this, John? I’m not a bible thumper. I’m not religious at all, I believe. So, if I do know this, why should I know this? The only plausible reason is, I researched this in my former life. And the only plausible reason for doing so, doing this research, is: I’m gay. Speak first, think later.”

He peers at Gracelyn who---who seems to have some iron in the fire---because---as much as she likes Alex, or John, she’d rather have her son (Ben) making a few more high-strung Valkyries very happy---even if they pay for it---than to have him end up in John’s or Alex’s arms.

“Martin Luther,” she says (that was/is Dr. Fletcher’s Christian name). She takes my hand, then Alex’s, and joins them. “I’ll be the witness.”


Are you still there? Then you'll possibly like the GREEN EYES the Lambda Literary Award novel. It's out now, available as Kindle book on Amazon, under this link:


Night Owl Reviews
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Dec 21, 2016

The headless horseman --- This is heaven --- teaser (19)

Alex and John are meeting Godehart in the Blue Moon to commiserate about the German's ouster from the festival contest. One paragraph into this Inspector LaStrada will make his appearance, the homicide detective who is in charge of the investigation of Neill Palmer's death. And the talk about the goldfish bowl? Bit complicated to explain, have a look here.


Godehart is expecting us at a bar table where he had a few shots already. “How did it happen,” we ask. Well, he failed to get the earphone working again. And the confusion. Whether he talked to the mayor. No, the mayor had disappeared. He talked to Beeblebrox though.
“Beeblebrox was very upset, I did better than Roper, he said. I should register a protest.”
“With whom?” Alex asks.
“My guardian angel, I presume.”
And the paper work? Did they at least provide him with a copy of the paperwork? No, nothing. Hamblin is basically incommunicado. And so is the City Club. A bunch of thugs. He learned his lesson, and orders another round.


Sorry to interrupt this.

Sorry to interrupt this, real quick: (a) have you seen the movie Sleepy Hollow with Jonny Depp as inspector Crane and Christopher Walken as the headless horseman (Depp stays a bit too much in character, doesn’t he?)? The horseman is Irish folklore, there are also headless versions without horse; (b) talking hyperboles; (c) you recall inspector LaStrada. He’s entering the premises of the Blue Moon as we speak, and he looks tonight like a horseless, headless inspector who wears a fishbowl under his arm, I swear.

Dec 20, 2016

Dec 18, 2016

German for beginners









The Süddeutsche Zeitung has an article about Donald Trump vs. Nero Claudius Ceasar Augustus Germanicus, Roman Emperor from 54 to 68 AD. It figures.

Anyhow, here are a few quotes, just in case you haven't yet gotten enough of this.
 
Soll man den Trump Tower in New York nun geschmacklos (tasteless) nennen? Staunend (stunned) betrachtet die Welt die Kulisse, in denen der erwählte Präsident der USA seine Regierung vorbereitet: polierter Marmor, vergoldete (gilded) Flügeltüren, Kassettendecken, kanellierte Säulen, goldene Polstermöbel, schwere Teppiche, Glastische, riesige (humongous) Vasen (vases), Luxus (luxury) als Befehl zur Überwältigung.

Der Kontrast (contrast) zum Weissen (white) Haus (house) ist schlagend. Der offizielle Sitz des amerikanischen Präsidenten (president) zeigt den absichtvoll zurückhaltenden Stil eines englischen Herrenhauses nach dem Muster einer Palladio-Villa. Die amerikanische Republik (republic) hat sich an klassizistischen Mustern orientiert. Das Design (design) der Republik ist aristokratisch (aristocratic), nicht monarchisch oder höfisch. Es ist ein Stil der Tyrannis (tyranny) auch (also) ästhetisch (aesthetically) missbilligt (disapproves). 

Weisse Häuser gab es um 1800 viele in Amerika, ihre Besitzer waren wohlhabende, nüchterne und of gebildete Landwirtschaftsunternehmer (gentleman farmer) mit Tausenden Sklaven (slaves). In ihren Bibliotheken (libraries) fanden sich neben Bibeln und Gesangsbüchern auch die antiken Historiker (historians), die grelle Bilder von tyrannischen Imperatoren (emperors) und ihrer Sittenlosigkeit (debauchery) zeichneten.

Schaudend konnte man nachlesen, wie es im alten Rom (Rome) zuging. "Nirgends war der Kaiser (emperor) so verschwendisch (wasteful) wie beim Bauen. Er errichtete ein Haus das er 'Goldenes Haus' nannte. Seine Eingangshalle war so gross, das in ihr eine 120 Fuss hohe Kolossalstatue (colossal statue) von ihm selbst (himself) stehen konnte. In den übrigen Teilen was alles mit Gold (gold) überzogen und mit Edelsteinen und Muscheperlen bunt verziert. Die Speisezimmer besassen getäfelte Decken [...]. 

Der Erbauer dieser Domus Aurea war Nero (Urenkel von Kaiser Augustus), der 54 AD als Siebzehnjähriger and die Macht kam und sich nach vierzehn turbulenten Regierungsjahren umbrachte. In den Stunden seines Todes soll er geklagt haben: "Welch ein Künstler (artist)  geht in mir verloren (lost) ."Nicht das Ende seiner Regierung (government) bewegte ihn, sondern der Abbruch seiner Karriere (career) als Showstar (showstar)...

Dec 16, 2016

Another review of the GREEN EYES

"Reminiscent of Douglas Coupland, GREEN EYES is humorous, thrilling and erotic. It is the blending of genres. I like the style that this is written in. It’s quite absurd and our narrator, John, seems to be either poking fun at himself or the author Michael Ampersant (or the author poking fun at John) The tenses seem to be all over the shop and I are not sure if something is happening in John’s mind, that of the writer or in the reality of the book. I like how this flows. It is like drops of water falling on one another, joining and bursting. It’s languid. This is also a book about blogging. There are some witty and intelligent observations on this subject. It’s almost a resource for how to start a popular blog. It is brilliant how this is used in the book for criminal baiting..."

You find this on InbetweenBooks, a review blog run by Katie. Yes, Katie. Its not a new review, it's a "reprise," so it was published before, but there you have it again. We're extremely pleased, you can imagine. 

And the blog, folks, the blog Katie is talking about, that's the blog you are looking at.


Now a Lambda Literary Awards finalist:
___________________________________

("click")
___________________________





Yesterday night

This is the moon, in case you were wondering

Dec 13, 2016

The rising tide lifts all boats (4)




Post-coital checkup --- This Is Heaven --- Teaser (18)

We have this brilliant new picture by Chang, but we can't post two pictures in a row, so here's a teaser of This Is Heaven in between. Plus, Michael's just finished the first draft of the manuscript today. 

We're in Chapter 19. John & Alex have been urged to check on Juliette, who's supposedly in her hotel room. And then there's Barbette Bienpensant (the professor and Juliette's half-sister), and Romeo---you'll see.

Hold on, the illustrations are a bit dada.


The professor bangs on the door and attacks the door knob. No reaction. “Hold the line,” Alex says to her, “briefly.”

“Juliette,” he says to the door. “Wonder girl, we need your help.” He knocks twice.
“It’s too late,” Bienpensant says, “we need somebody to force the door. The concierge. The ambulance.”
“Wonder girl,” Alex enunciates, “Alex.”

This is a noisy building from the 70’s, we should hear something inside—-if. And yes, there’s a sound, the bounce of a closet door maybe. The door unlocks and Juliette’s head appears in the crack. She looks drowsy at first, then defiant, then resigned. She lets go and retreats. We enter. Romeo is on the bed, half-hiding under the sheets (Juliette wears a bathrobe).

"We...

“What is this,” Bienpensant says, “who is this boy?”
“False alarm,” I say (idiotically).
“This is Romeo,” Juliette says, “who else?” She walks up to the bed and sits down.

Dec 9, 2016

Today




No hands, no Photoshop, James Bond



This is the house of a neighbor, which featured extensively on this blog a few years ago. 

Fragment, fragment. No prob, we have at least five. Here's one from Part II of the GREEN EYES, Ch. 11 (Albert Camus):

Let me interrupt myself and mention James Bond again. It doesn’t matter which movie, so let’s talk about the last one, Skyfall. Daniel Craig introduces himself to Dr. No or one of No’s co-workers, like Bérénice Marlohe, say, and says “The name is Bond, James Bond.” And while any other person on the planet would now go, like, ‘Great,’ or ‘Can you give me an autograph,’ Bérénice has never heard of the super-hero of popular culture, grimaces distantly, and shakes the stranger’s hand.

Dec 7, 2016

The ad that ends the culture wars --- This is heaven --- Teaser (17)


John is back home where he's confronted with Ben --- Ben, last week's conquest and this week's backbone of the newfangled A-level Escort Service. For more context, read here how Ben got tricked into this by Alex, and here how he discharged his duties during his first A-level assignment.


Ben has a very long shower at the moment and my feeling is that he’s going to depart from my life pretty soon, the way he shot cursory glances at the bedstead and then at me---which was still okay, especially under the circumstances---but then he asked whether he could use the shower, and his next step will be to ask whether he can use the bathroom, and then he’s gone.



We shouldn’t belabor the obvious here, but if you’re in the pay of one of these outfits that use “family” as code against gays, and you’re tasked to produce the definitive ad, the ad that ends the culture wars, you could do much worse than to tell the story of a young, handsome Afro-American who has options, obviously, when it comes to sexual preferences, and who falls into the hands of this homosexual assistant professor of French who’s only option is a tangled ménage with a rape victim and a suicide victim and pimping handsome Afro-Americans to high-strung Valkyries---not to mention Ray, the murder suspect whom he hasn’t met yet.

Now Ben’s back from the shower, and this is my last chance. He’s wearing these graffiti briefs that look so great on him even when not quite fresh, and he's just standing there, the precise model of ebony perfection, unconscious of his own skin, one more second before he’ll ask whether he can use the bathroom. So you say: “Ben.”

Dec 2, 2016

Dec 1, 2016

Occam's razor



Timeo Trumpos et dona ferentes

(Fragment, fragment, GREEN EYES, Part II, very short, Alex (saying:))

"Look it up."

(Okay, a bit more. We're in the climactic chapter, "This Is Heaven," and in the company of John, the narrator, Alex, Raphael Beeblebrox (an editor with The Urban Dictionary), and Ben. Professor Bienpensant, the quantitative metaphysicist is going to preside over her own doomsday prediction looming for midnight:)

“Why is it, Alex,” Beeblebrox asks, waving today’s program printout at him, “why is it that cataclysmic events are always scheduled at mundane, convenient times?”
“Because twenty percent of the population believe Armageddon will happen during their life time.”
“Twenty-five percent,” Ben corrects him.
“Too easy, too easy.” Beeblebrox shakes his head.
“If you want more metaphysical, Raphael,”---Alex---“you should ask Professor Bienpensant. Occam’s razor, look it up.” Out of nowhere, he has conjured four tallboys and hands one to each of us.