Autographable eBooks?

Authography logoAmerican based company Autography LLC has come up with technology that enables authors to sign eBooks–be that in person, or remotely.

Apparently the technology works using a touch enabled tablet computer–a copy of the eBook is loaded, a blank page is inserted behind the front cover, and the author is able to write, sign and otherwise personalise the page for the customer. According to Autography’s Facebook page they are looking to roll out a software package in the next few weeks and are working on an Android based solution (currently I believe they have an iPad version already working).

With the rise in eBook sales, this software could potentially give eBooks one of the precious abilities that was until now restricted to print books–the autograph. That said, the eBook still can’t rival the print book for ‘show off value’ as my boyfriend might say. He’s one of those people who likes to impress with a well stocked bookshelf (preferably in hardcover), but for those drawn to the lightweight, compact and mess-free (or privacy saving) world of the eBook, this is certainly a welcome development.

I also wonder if this sort of thing would be beneficial in terms of combating eBook piracy. Obviously an autographed eBook copied away from the original owner is now a distinctive, individual object which can be identified as such–and identified as pirated. It may also prove a disinclination to share, or an incentive for someone to go out and purchase their own eBook copy, although I am aware that these changes (if present) in consumer behaviour would be just a very small proportion of those people out there who pirate creative IP–most likely it would affect the segment of the population who use piracy as a ‘try before you buy’ option, or a ‘get because I’m poor and can’t afford a book right now but I plan to buy it someday’ crowd.

The Secret of Talmor Manor Out in eBook Format

The Secret of Talmor Manor--Art by Deanna

Well, it’s official–The Secret of Talmor Manor is out as an eBook, available in PDF, EPUB and PRC (Kindle) format. Currently it’s available directly from MLR Books. For anyone after a printed copy, watch this space, I expect it to be available in print shortly and I’ll keep you all posted on that. It hope you all enjoy it–I certainly enjoyed writing it.

If you’d like a sneak peek you can read an excerpt here.

In other news I will be doing a full reading of Mr. Perfect at this year’s Chillout Festival in Daylesford this Labour Day long weekend, Satuday 12th of March at Horvat’s Wine Bar. The events starts at 3:00 PM and will feature full readings from both BanQuet 2011 Anthologies, which will be available for purchase on the day. Tickets are $15/$10 and are available through the Chillout Events webpage. Pop it into your calendars and I hope to see you there.

Love to all

Matt

Novel Excerpt: The Secret of Talmor Manor

The Secret of Talmor Manor--Art by Deanna
Once upon a time…

A long, long time ago…

Over the hill and across the sea…

Jake shut the third exercise book with a snap and dropped it onto the pile next to the couch. Leaning back into the coffee colored cushions, he sighed and rubbed at his eyes with one hand. Sometimes he worried about the level of creativity amongst his students. Or perhaps it was more accurate to say that he worried about the lack of creativity amongst his students. Or possibly the level of creative plagiarism. Grunting, he hauled himself to his feet and walked into the kitchen to find the canvas shopping bags he used to carry notebooks and manuscripts to and from campus. He insisted on an early assignment for exactly this reason. Students often needed a reality check, and this year’s crop was no exception.

“This may be a course about fiction,” Jake said as he paced before the lectern the next afternoon. The musty, red carpeted lecture theater was mostly filled, which was a novelty, although he expected attendance to drop as the semester wore on. Normally, he didn’t approve of creative writing being taught through lectures, but he did understand it was helpful for a first year introductory subject. Still there was a certain level of thought he expected from his students.

“This may be a course about fiction,” he said again, coming to a halt and turning to face the room. “In fact, I’m going to stick my neck out and say this is a course about fiction. And while I’m gratified that many of you are familiar with the basic concepts of fiction and narrative forms, I feel that some of you think Creative Writing is a bludge subject.”

Jake stared out into the dimly lit faces of confusion, sleepiness and in one or two cases, defiance. “It isn’t,” he said grimly.

It was, in short, a typical semester day in the life of Jacob Yoshimoto. After covering the most common forms of story beginnings, he moved on to a quick summary of story structure, summing up on the most important one: “Remember,” he said, “rules are there to make you think before you break them. You will find the beginning of a short-or not so short-story, uploaded onto the LMS site for this subject. Read it, and finish it, and be ready to present in tutorials next week.” Jake smiled again, a little less forbiddingly. “Once upon a time isn’t going to work here.”

Jake arrived home some hours later, after a few student meetings and working on his own projects. He smiled as he walked past the rows of terraced houses, taking pleasure in the rusted fences of wrought iron and the quietness of the neighborhood. Ahead of him, a woman with long black hair turned the corner, probably heading for the small shopping strip that, in this time of supermarkets and chain stores, still managed to have an independent bakery, greengrocer’s and a deli. Smiling at that small token of defiance, Jake stopped as he spied the small cardboard box sitting on his front porch. He wasn’t expecting a delivery. As he swung open his creaking gate and slowly approached, he noticed there was no name or address on it.

Later Jake would wonder why it was that he never did the sensible thing when confronted with a mystery package sitting on his doorstep. Perhaps it was a rebellion against the public service announcements or ads for Border Security, or perhaps he was just being complacent. After staring at it for a minute, turning the package over and over in his hands, he shrugged, tucked it under one arm and unlocked his front door. Oh well, it’s probably from Logan, he thought as he entered his house.

Once inside, he toed off his shoes in the entryway and absently opened the door into his study to drop his bag off. The brown box went onto the island counter in his open-plan kitchen, and the tape sealing the flaps was cut with the large pair of orange scissors reserved for non-food use. Inside, Jake found a mess of foam packing bits and a small paperweight. It was a red crystal rose standing about four inches high on a base of black metal about three inches in diameter and covered in a dome of glass. The rose was exquisitely sculpted, seeming to grow out of the matt metal base like other small plants would grow in agar nutrient jelly. It also glowed with a rich, red light. Checking it over carefully, Jake couldn’t find any warning labels, screws or compartments for batteries. There wasn’t even a raised stamp reading “made in China” like he was expecting. What was making it glow then? It looked like it should be radioactive or something. Trust Logan to find something like that.

Taking out his phone, Jake sent a quick text to his best friend. “Thanks for the paperweight, what did you break at my place?”

About half an hour later he got a reply.

“What paperweight?”

* * * *

“It’s not radioactive,” Logan said later that day, taking careful aim and sinking the five ball into the far corner pocket of his pool table.

“How do you know that?” Jake asked. Logan had been his best friend since they’d met in primary school, and the two men now lived just a block from each other, often meeting up in the morning or evenings. Given that Logan worked as a nurse at St. Vincent’s Hospital, he and Jake often met as one of them was going to work, and the other coming home from it.

“Contrary to popular culture, radioactive substances don’t glow,” Logan said.

“Then why is it glowing?” Jake asked.

“I don’t know, have you checked for batteries?”

“Yes.”

“Yes, and?” Logan asked.

“There aren’t any,” Jake said, re-chalking the end of his pool cue.

“It doesn’t require any power?”

“Doesn’t look like it.”

“Where was it made?” Logan asked, his eyes shining. Although he had gone into medicine, rather than physics, Logan was still obsessed with the idea of cheap clean energy.

“I don’t know-and yes, I’ve looked, there’s no label,” Jake said.

“That’s weird,” Logan said. “Oh well, it’s probably just phosphorus.”

“Phosphorus glows red?”

“It can,” Logan said with a shrug. “Damn,” he muttered as he scratched the ball.

“I didn’t know that.” Jake lined up his shot. “And no, you can’t take the paperweight apart to see what it’s made of.”

“Spoilsport.” Logan pouted. “You know what?”

“No, you haven’t told me yet.”

“You have a secret admirer,” Logan said with a grin.

“Oh, shut up.”

“A secret admirer who leaves gifts,” Logan added, his grin turning into a leer.

“But not a note or a name,” Jake said. “I hope you’ll forgive me for being less than enthusiastic about having a stalker.”

“It could be the hot waiter from Watson’s Wine Bar,” Logan continued thoughtfully. “He’s eyed you a few times.”

“It could be his seventy-year-old aunt Ethel,” Jake said, straightening up. “Your shot.”

“He has a seventy-year-old aunt named Ethel?” Logan asked.

Jake rolled his eyes. “You know after all these years you think you’d understand sarcasm.”

“That was… well fuck,” Logan said. “Yours,” he grumbled as the cue ball bounced off the edge and rolled into the middle pocket. “I still don’t see why you view everything in the worst possible light you can.”

“It means I can be pleasantly surprised when the worst case scenario doesn’t eventuate,” Jake said with a grin.

“It also stops you living life,” Logan said seriously. “You need to get out a bit more Jake.”

“Are you trying to get rid of me?” Jake asked, raising his eyebrows. “Besides, you’re just as single as me.”

“I know,” Logan moaned. “Face it Jakey, we’re a couple of very sad old men.”

“I know I am,” Jake said. “You’re not though.”

“Jake, I’m three months older than you.”

“You don’t age on the gay calendar.”

“I do too!”

“Only half the time.”

Logan grinned and took a swig of his beer. “Technically all the time. I just happen to age on the straight calendar as well. You know, you could write a story about that.”

“Sure,” Jake muttered as he lined up his next shot. “The Calendar of Sexuality, I can see it on shelves right now.”

The Calendar of Sexuality?”

“Well, okay, maybe the title could use some work,” Jake said, not wanting to get into a title debate. Besides, it didn’t sound like that bad an idea.

Logan’s next shot sunk the eight ball.

Later that evening, Jake slid into bed with a sigh, pulling the covers up around his neck. He was feeling just a little bit tipsy from the beers he and Logan had drunk, and amidst the banter and horsing around he had almost forgotten about the paperweight on his desk downstairs. As he felt himself drifting from consciousness he fancied he could see gentle pulses of red light behind his eyelids, and thought he heard whispered words at the edge of his consciousness.

Once upon a time…

* * * *

The Secret of Talmor Manor

The Secret of Talmor Manor--Art by Deanna

The Secret of Talmor Manor

Genre: Gay Romance
Sub-Genre: Modern Paranormal Mystery
Publisher: MLR Press

Synopsis:
After a mysterious package arrives on Jake’s doorstep, he starts having very strange dreams: when he falls asleep he finds himself in a dilapidated English Manor inhabited by a number of ghosts who believe he can  free them from their eternal existence. But when the Lord of the Manor appears in Jake’s living room, Jake finds himself facing some very difficult questions. What should he do about the attraction between him and this turn of the century living ghost? Why is someone trying to kill them in their dreams? And what should he wear to the upcoming Halloween party?

Read an excerpt

The Secret of Talmor Manor is now out of print. 

Cover Art!

The Secret of Talmor Manor Cover Art by Deanna

The Secret of Talmor Manor has cover art, and here it is! Credit to Deana C. Jamroz. All going well it should be out very soon, and I can confirm it will be available in Australia, America, the UK and most of Europe, as well as online via Amazon.com.

banQuet 2011 now available at Hares&Hyenas

banQuet 2011: Writing by Queer Men Anthology CoverA big hello and thank you to everyone who attended the banQuet 2011 launch yesterday at Hares&Hyenas. For those of you who weren’t able to come or who didn’t get a copy of the Anthology, it is available at Hares&Hyenas for $24.95 and includes my story, Mr. Perfect.

Hopefully I’ll be able to post here soon with publication news for The Secret of Talmor Manor–if you’d like to know when that hits the shelves, sign up for my newsletter on the right.

VIC Greens are after your thoughts on Same Sex Marriage

The Victorian Greens are calling for public submissions ahead of their introduction of a bill supporting Same-Sex Marriage. They are seeking views on the issue in general, on how the law should be framed, and issues such as the legal status and rights granted through marriage; how the laws would apply to interstate residents; the rights of religious celebrants to choose not to conduct a same-sex marriage; and how any new laws would interact with Victoria’s current Relationship Register.

Please submit your views to linda.roberts@parliament.vic.gov.au at Sue Pennicuik MLC’s office or call (03) 9530 8399.

For those of you who are interested, here’s my submission:

Hi Linda,

I saw in the Star Observer that the Victorian Greens are calling for public views on Same-Sex Marriage and I would like to give you mine.

Same-Sex Marriage should happen.

I believe that we may need a new word for ‘marriage’ in general as it currently has two meanings: under civil law and as a religious practice (largely Christian practice). Homophobic and oppressive Christian political groups often insist that the religious practice of marriage be enshrined in law—as that between one man and one woman. This is not only homophobic, but also runs contrary to the ideal of religious pluralism that our secular society supposedly values. Same sex marriage is recognised and practiced amongst those of the Pagan and Neo-Pagan faiths as well as in many indigenous tribal cultures, such as the American Indians. For a secular, non-religious government to insist that the civil rights of two people coming together to live their lives as a couple must be defined under the non-secular, religious and frankly, bigoted view of a religious minority is an unjust denial of civil liberties and a disservice to the multi-cultural society that supposedly embraces religious pluralism.

As such what we need is a recognition that the secular rights and responsibilities of two people coming together as a couple are distinct from any religious influence or preconceptions and should be enshrined in law as dictated by peoples of conscience, tolerance and in the spirit of fairness. These laws should be non-gender specific and be the only legal standpoint for couples whether gay, straight, trans or any other identification I may have missed. This law should ensure that such a union is a secular joining, much in the way that the only legal part of a marriage ceremony is the signing of the marriage registry.

This would make the religious ceremony of marriage a purely internal religious affair, and religions should be free to decide who they will or will not extend that ceremony to—so a conservative Christian church should not be legally obligated to marry two men or two women if that is their viewpoint. However, under the separation of church and state, they should have a legal obligation to stay out of politics and not interfere with the secular practices of those outside of their faith—however, that may be an entirely different battle and piece of legislation.

On a personal note, I am not in a position where marriage is a consideration for me at the moment, but I hope that one day I will be and when I am in that position, I would hope that the secular government will recognise my relationship as equally as it recognises that of my heterosexual friends, free of the hatred and injustice that is too often being spouted by the religious minority.

Thank you and The Greens for taking the time to call for community views and for reading my submission.

Warm Regards

Matthew Lang

In other news, here’s an awesome video of Illinois Senator Ricky Hendon speaking during debate on the recently passed Illinois Civil Union bill.

Banquet Anthology Launch: Tickets selling fast

banQuet 2011 Men Anthology Cover

If you’re thinking of coming down to the Banquet Anthology Launch of Friday the 4th of February, I suggest you go to Midsumma.org and book a ticket now or RSVP via facebook. I’ve had a chat to the publishers and we’re apparently close to hitting venue capacity already. See you all there!

banQuet 2011 Anthology Launch: 4th February

banQuet 2011 Anthology launch invite

Hey everyone! The banQuet 2011 Anthology Launch has been set for Friday the 4th of February at 8:00 pm at Hares&Hyenas. Come along and hear some of the great stories inside the anthology and have a chat to the authors–and me if you like.

Hope to see you all there and don’t forget to RSVP. It looks like it’s going to be packed…

Matt.

  • Event at Midsumma
  • The Event on Facebook
  • A Response From Laura Miller

    NaNoWrimo

    NaNoWriMo

    I posted last year about a letter I sent to Laura Miller in response to her Salon.com op ed piece where she (in my opinion) blasted the participants of NaNoWriMo and attacked the Office of Letters and Light. (NaNoWriMo’s parent company). This is her response to me. I have yet to send one back. In other news, Salon.com has put itself up for sale.

    Hello,

    Thanks for writing. I think in your anticipation of being slapped down, you leap to some unjustified conclusions about what I said.

    Although I hoped to respond to every email I received about my NaNoWriMo piece, it turns out I just can’t scrape together the time, so I’m going to attach a comprehensive response that I hope will address your remarks, whether positive or negative. (The email I got was about half and half, by the way, and I’m not any happier about the positive ones that willfully misinterpret what I said than I am about the negative ones.)

    Here is what I did NOT say:

    I did NOT say that *writing a NaNoWriMo novel* is a waste of time.

    I did NOT object to people writing novels, whether they do it in 30 days or more.

    I did NOT say that NaNoWriMo novels are “a lot of crap.”

    I did NOT say that NaNoWriMo contestants do not read.

    How can the above statements possibly be true? I think if you go back and pay attention to what I actually wrote instead of what you assumed I wrote or what other people told you I wrote, you will see that it is so. (Yes, the headline for the piece is not as clear as it could be, but like most journalists, I do not determine the headlines attached to my articles. That’s up to the cover editor.)

    To elaborate:

    My complaint is not with anyone who writes any kind of novel. Let me repeat: I have no objection to anyone writing a novel in 30 (or more) days, any more than I object to people making scrapbooks or perfecting their gelato recipe or doing anything else that satisfies their creative impulses and it makes them happy.

    My complaint is with the investment of public time, energy and money in a program that promotes novel-writing. The *apparatus* of NaNoWriMo — nonprofit status, fundraising ($300K+ this year, according to the website), paid staff, volunteers, website, press campaigns — strike me as squandered. For the same reason, I would also call it a waste for someone to solicit donations for a nonprofit organization urging more people to knit or play championship Scrabble. These are harmless and agreeable pastimes, it’s true, but do we really need to invest scarce resources in boosting them?

    I DO put the event in the context of a culture where 81% of people say they plan to write a book (reported by the New York Times) yet only 57% report having read a SINGLE book for pleasure in the past year (from a study by the National Endowment for the Arts). Anecdotally, every writing teacher I know reports having several students in EVERY class they teach (including expensive university MFA programs!) who, when questioned, admit to almost never reading books for pleasure. I have met dozens of aspiring writers at literary events who blithely tell me the same thing. Of course NaNoWriMo is not to blame for this. I never said it was. However, I don’t see that NaNoWriMo is helping the situation very much, either.

    We don’t have a shortage of writers. We DO have a shortage of readers. These are the facts. As gratifying as NaNoWriMo may be to individual writers, it is not meeting a need that’s in service of the greater public good. My argument is that we are better off redirecting these limited resources and this collective enthusiasm to the encouragement of reading (especially, I’d add, in creative ways that don’t instill the idea that reading a book is the intellectual equivalent of eating your spinach).

    With regard to whether or not Nanowrimo is helpful to writers, in the second paragraph of the piece, I acknowledged the following:

    … it fosters the habit of writing every single day, the closest thing to a universally prescribed strategy for eventually producing a book. NaNoWriMo spurs aspiring authors to conquer their inner critics and blow past blocks. Only by producing really, really bad first drafts can many writers move on to the practice that results in decent work: revision.
    Furthermore, I never claimed that NaNoWriMo novels are “a lot of crap.” I’ve never read a NaNoWriMo novel, so I wouldn’t know. I was merely quoting the NaNoWriMo website, which assures contestants that they will be writing “a lot of crap.” That’s a direct quote from them, so if it offends you or strikes you as inaccurate, please take it up with them.

    Let me repeat this one more time: My point is not that people shouldn’t write, only that any apparatus designed to encourage them to write is not really doing much to foster a healthy, sustainable literary culture. The world of readers and writers is like an ecosystem, and ours is getting more and more out of balance.

    Ironically, in the long run, making the celebration of reading the center of our literary culture will help writers far more than programs like NaNoWriMo ever will. Even if NaNoWriMo contestants don’t expect their NaNoWriMo novel to ever get published, most of them probably dream of publication some day. Well, guess what: If we continue to lose readers at the rate we’re going, that won’t happen. There will be no more publishers because people will have ceased to buy their product, or will only buy books by 10 or 15 blockbuster authors. You might opt to publish your book yourself at your own expense, but, even then, will anyone (outside of family and friends) read it? Or will they be too busy writing their own books?

    Anyone who loves novels, as I do, has to find this prospect saddening. Personally, nothing depresses me more than the possibility of a world full of good books that will never be read.

    No one likes to hear this news, and the natural impulse is to lash out at the messenger. There certainly is a lot more money and applause to be had only telling people what they want to hear instead. I’ll point out that the only book the founder of NaNoWriMo has ever published is a book on how to write a novel.

    Please consider the possibility that you are looking at this issue from the narrow perspective of what makes you personally feel better, right now, and not taking the bigger picture into account. Given that many people seem bound and determined to believe that I have attacked NaNoWriMo contestants no matter what I say, this is probably hopeless, but it did seem worth a try.