Aug 29, 2018

The Fountain of Geneva -- now out as Kindle book on Amazon

Ever wondered about the Fountain of Geneva, the world's foremost liquid monument? Michael has all the answers you need, now out as quick read on Amazon:

Green Eyes

"Grab your copy of this fun, sexy, and very cheeky short story featuring our dear Emperor Hadrian." --- JP Kenwood

"This is a really fun look at an aspect of the Roman Emperor Hadrian's time in Geneva, which amounts to one of the most zany sexual conquests I've ever read. Michael Ampersant delivers the story mostly through dialogue, which provides a very casual feel as if an eccentric neighbor is telling you this crazy wild happening in history while you were just minding your business. Grasping some of the surrounding details may require some Googling or a passion for history, but the core is very clear and concise. Well worth the buck just so you can know the story and can tell it to others!" --- James Beamon

Aug 21, 2018

This Is Heaven -- for the record

We've started some sort of add campaign for This Is Heaven on LustSpiel, much of which is NSFW. He's one post that's OK (dunno why it's blurred here):

More of this in Michael Ampersant's This Is Heaven

Inkitt (3) --- Bestsellers, Amazon sales rank, and much more

James Beamon has already reacted to our letter of yesterday about Inkitt, and here's his answer:

Your theory and discussion on Inkitt's underlying drivers with their touting of AI is definitely worth merit, to the point that I may write a follow-up post covering your analysis.  Oh, and to fill in some of the gaps of where their "bestsellers" lie, I present to you the Kindle Sales Rank Calculator:

As long as you don't put in commas, this thing will convert the current sales rank to how many books they're selling per day.  Virtually EVERY book I put into from Inkitt's best seller rank was selling less than 1 per day.  To put it into working context, anything higher than a Amazon rank of 100,000 will be less than 1 book.  One book, Eric Olafsson: Midshipman, is at 407,416.  Egan Brass, the guy I interviewed for "The Bright Side of Inkitt", has a series called the Esper Files and the first one is at 321,238, the second is at 650,597, and the third is at 891,640.  At that rate I imagine Egan hasn't sold a single copy of Book 3 in months.

James Beamon

Now I haven't looked at every book in their lineup, but the one book I did see that was doing worthwhile numbers was Chosen by Lauren Chow.  Her rank is 55,707 which translates to her moving about 5 books per day.

Aug 20, 2018

Inkitt (2) --- Inkitt and AI---are Inkitt's sales so bad that they have to keep their numbers under wraps?

Inkitt has defined itself as a publisher "without an acquisition department." It invites willing authors to put their manuscripts on its platform and promises to publish the best-performing ones as fee-yielding books. Performance, it claims, is measured by an AI-inspired algorithm. 

James Beamon

In January this year, James Beamon, one of these authors, engaged in a dialogue with the platform about said algorithm which yielded little but obfuscation and gobbledygook Inkitt-wise. I thought about this and sent him the following letter (mildly redacted): 

I have posted two or three stories about Inkitt and had a chance to observe the phenomena that you describe in your post (regarding the relationship between reading behavior and their analytical engine).
Before I started to write fiction, I taught Artificial Intelligence at the University of Amsterdam, the discipline whose name Inkitt invokes as its unique sales proposition (“our algorithm is AI”).

My hunch is that this algorithm is mostly ballyhoo.


The algorithm supposedly links reading behavior to sales success, so it either (a) knows, or (b) has learned how reading behavior predicts book sales.

(Ad a) Imagine that you are the programmer, or the team of programmers hired to code the algorithm. You will have some hunches as to how the reading behavior re successful novels differs from reading behavior re less successful novels (and, perhaps not coincidentally, these hunches surface in the answers we get from Inkitt (“readers unable to put the novel down”)). There's some obvious plausibility to this, but initial hunches are not Artificial Intelligence. They represent the natural intelligence of a bunch of kids (mostly/usually), who spend their nights with a cold pizza on their lap hired to write the code. In other words, Inkitt’s AI-touting sales proposition does not hold, or at least: it did not hold at the outset.
If Inkitt has an advantage NOW over traditional (human) intelligence (agents, editors), it would be on the data side. Agents or editors don't have data about the reading behavior of a manuscript that hasn’t been read by anybody except them, whereas Inkitt, 2.5 years into its existence, can claim to possess such data.

Aug 19, 2018

In eigener Sache

Perry Brass

The eponymous Perry Brass shared the link to Death on the Beach, and wrote:

My friend Michael Ampersant's story "Death on the Beach" has just been published at a site called Transnational Queer Underground. Michael's work—his original language is German—has often reminded me of Vladimir Nabokov—they both have a pristine functionality to their English that opens up amazing vistas and places where forbidden desires become reality.

Well, hope springs eternally.

Aug 16, 2018

Death on the beach

By Michael Ampersant

We have a new story out in TRANSNATIONAL QUEER UNDERGROUND (whatever that means).  And like so many of our shorts, it's almost true (only the punch "line" is fiction). Serious first-time material, folks. NSFW. Here's how it starts:

Zeeland is a collection of islands nestled in the delta of the Rhine river. There are beaches, and the nearest one from our house is-—or was-—ten minutes on the bike. Zeeland was famously gereformeerd then-—prudish-Calvinistic-—and there was no animo for the naked beaches they had up north near Amsterdam. So, our seashore had changing facilities, clapboard cabins with a fore room, closet hooks, doors, locks, and a plank running along the wall of the main room serving as a bench.

Original illustration by Heather Sinclair

I had just turned twelve. Something had happened to me during the winter, and when I went for the first swim of the new season, something had happened to the dude--not always the same one--that was hanging out there. You would show up, he’d gaze at you, conspicuously, then disappear into the dunes. In previous years I had ignored him, but this time I couldn’t fail to pay attention. His gaze did something to me. It was like a loopy ditty in my ear that followed me as I biked home. And I knew I wouldn’t tell Mom.

Continues here. Give it a try!

Aug 5, 2018

Jamie & Dex---Best Gay Erotica IV now available for preorder

David's Tiny Thing---or whatever the title will be---starts with a short story written by Michael for the anthology Best Gay Erotica IV, edited by Rob Rosen and published by Cleis Press. The book is now available for preorder, and here's a teaser of a teaser...this is how our story, "Renaissance Miracles" begins:

Luigi took me aside this morning and said that, however much he enjoys our leetle get-togethers, he can no longer—-despite his best efforts and my best efforts—-hide the absence of any payments towards Room 312 from the all-knowing reservation system of the Savoy Palace Hotel. He fussed with a drawer, and held up a credit card. Here, he said under his breath, go to the Via Tornabuoni, buy yourself a new outfit, and take up position on the steps of the Loggia della Signoria…that should solve your leetle problems, pretty boy that you are. But don’t forget to return the credit card first.

He then looked left and right the way Italian hotel managers look left and right before getting a blow job, waved me to his side of the reception counter, and there we went again: me squatting in the hollow space under the desk accommodating his Italian dick, while he accommodated a new guest, a Contessa, apparently. I’m a slut, fortunately, I can handle this.

So, that’s why I’m here on the steps of the Loggia sitting next to the marble statue of Cellini’s Perseus, me a wannabe hustler with a boyfriend who, suddenly, last month, discovered his passion for the Tuscan Renaissance and begged me to take him to Florence where he would study with a certain Professore Pellegrini, a mysterious art historian...

Aug 4, 2018

"That's why his hand is so big" -- David's tiny thing -- teaser

Jamie & Dex, the almost-underage duo, have just been presented with a strange contraption, something that holds the middle between a copy of Michelangelo's David and--- yes---what? Hint: a remote control comes with it:

Jamie wouldn’t get physical unless all thought experiments fail, so he hands the clicker to me. And I, I’m not particularly bright (as you know), and I’m also the only person in the world scared by too many buttons on remote controls. So, I put the thing aside and feel hungry. I don’t know what time it is, but dusk is advancing, and I call room service to order the few items on the room menu that Google Translate understands.

It takes forever, of course, but around witching hour there’s the din of a trolley outside, accompanied by the young, Italian voices of Michelangelo and Leonardo, the two cutest pages of this establishment, them always on the night shift on special orders of the all-knowing Luigi. I know this because we know them, and there has been certain camaraderie growing between us, due to the fact, oddly, that we can’t tip them with our comatose credit cards. As usual, Michelangelo and Leonardo enter with a sense of splash (“Ecco qua”), and, like their famous namesakes, they’ve perfected the Mona Lisa smile---how do grownups say, the art of ambiguity, they say---always leaving in the middle whether their eccoes refer to the food or to themselves. If it wouldn’t be so difficult between Jamie and me, we’d have possibly agreed long ago that the pages are---or would be---much tastier that the food, but there’s no time for further reflection since Daviddo is still the elephant in the room. “Que cos’è questo?” Michelangelo asks, and I, glad to get rid of it, grab the clicker and hand it to him: “You find out.”

Hé, hé, hé,” the page coughs, and pushes one of its buttons. It must have been either the right or the wrong button because the Daviddo springs to life, a bit too forcefully, but then he removes the golden loin leaf from his crotch with a smooth, experienced gesture, and now he activates his right hand---somewhat oversized, his paw, like on David’s original sculpture---and undertakes to touch himself in unmistakable ways. And the organ in question, it obliges with an unmistakable reaction, something never seen before on Renaissance statuary.

“That’s why his hand is so big,” Michelangelo exclaims, whose English is better than Leo's. He grabs the remote and pushes a different button, some sort of volume control looks like, since Daviddo accelerates his jerking (“up”), decelerates it (“down”), then pauses. Michelangelo shoots a questioning look at Jamie: red lines need to be crossed, or not, who knows. Leo, the more forthcoming of the two, reclaims the remote and says, “Mi chiedo se può venire.” He looks expectantly at his polyglot partner, who shakes his head, but then confides, with a charming blush on his cheeks: “Micco wonders if he can cum.”

The food is getting cold, but we wonder too. Even little Jamie does. Isn’t this what you read in the math books, how sex puppets change your life? Leonardo hands the control to my partner. Jamie, the resident genius, pushes a red button, and the thing halts its jerking.

“No-no,” Micco cries, “we want to know.” So, Jamie pushes a different button, and Daviddo’s tool resumes its improbable expansion. The days of tiny willies are gone. In its original state his little thing wasn’t even two inches, but now it balloons to, what, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen inches and counting, projecting from his torso like the improbable phallus of any of these mythological satires you see on LustSpiel (the internet mag that won this porn prize last year).

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