In one of my writing groups, a newer writer has decided that she was going to write a blog about all the things that she’s learned while writing her first novel. And she asked what some of the other things are that the rest of us have learned throughout our writing careers.
Well, I have to admit that I’ve learned so much over the years. But there is a list of things that I wish I knew when I started.
So… Here goes.
It’s fun to sit down with my son and watch the old science fiction TV shows and movies. I’ve successfully got him hooked onto Star Trek (and he informs me that Deep Space 9 is his favorite series from the franchise). We’ve binge-watched Farscape (by far one of the best science fiction shows… so funny). We’ve had discussions about Battlestar Galactica, admiring how the various way the 2004 series pays homage to the original 1978 series. And when he’s home on holiday, we’ve been diving into Babylon 5.
I’ve successfully convinced him that Firefly should have never been taken off the air when it was, and we both agree that the psychedelic trip into the monolith at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey is just a “WTF?” moment. (But seeing the original gave him an extra level of appreciation when Farscape did their parody scene.)
During our binge watching of old TV shows, he’s been laughing at the absurdity of the situations (and how the writers got away with a lot of things that they would never be able to get away with today). But it’s the inaccuracies of the past timelines for the show that gets him the most. How wrong did fiction get their predictions for reality? Whenever he gets incredibly cynical, my response seems to always be the same.
Before you start to criticize the science fiction of old, highlighting how wrong they got the predictions, take a look at the real history and the trajectory that we were on when those books were written and when the films and TV shows were filmed.
I became serious about publication of fiction back in 2013, starting the process about learning everything that I can about what it was really going to take to publish fiction. In 2015, I chose to retrain as an editor. And every single day since I opened up for business, there has been this underlining doubt.
How can I prove that I know what I’m talking about when I’m haven’t got the proof in the pudding?
Every time I encounter a writer who is focused on books that I’ve published, I find myself in a position where I have to defend my choices, which is something I shouldn’t have to do. And when I get accused of being a hack because very few of my clients are published, I get defensive of my clients and want to go in for the attacks.
I thought I had come to terms with my demons and had developed strategies to get past them so I could do my job. However, a recent interaction via Instagram brought all the insecurities flooding back, making me question all of my choices—yet again.
When I started down this publishing venture, I said to myself that there were two topics I would avoid posting about on my feeds. Politics and religion. If you want the lynch mob to come after you, those two topics are the most efficient way to do it. And for over a decade, I have successfully sat on the fence with almost every topic out there.
Sure, there were times when I piped up to say that “enough was enough” when it came to the bullying that was happening in certain corners of the social media networks. But for the most part, I never really took a stance that could be considered “political” on any of my public profiles.
In the last year, so many things have happened within the publishing industry, endangering the livelihoods of writers, editors, publicists, publishers… basically, every single human in the industry.
I’m talking about the war against artificial intelligence (AI)… and it’s not even AI’s fault. The ones to blame for this AI war are the humans who are deliberately taking action that misuses and abuses the technology. And because it is such new technology, those wanting to be honest in this industry have no way to truly fight against what is happening—except to go public and say that it’s not okay.
What is happening is far from okay. Copyright of creatives everywhere is being abused in the training of AI-creation tools. The good names of several creatives are being trashed because of false AI-generated works that appear using their names. Creatives are being forced to choose between their future earning potential and that paycheck right now, because publishers are wanting to use their works to train AI, so the publisher can create more works like the creative’s work, but without the creative’s input. And to top it all off, the technology at the heart of this mess is also being compromised because of the shady practices of the ones looking to abuse the technology.
It’s not okay, and I’m publicly taking a stance against the use of AI-generation tools within publishing.
In today’s post, I am breaking my promise to myself about political posts on my public platform, because this is one topic that I can’t stay silent on.
How many times have you received a phone call from some random number that is actually a computerized voice on the other end of the line? “Hello. This is Visa.” That’s normally when I just hang up.
I get them often enough that now I tend not to even answer the landline during my workday. I just let it go through to the answering machine… and the scammer always hangs up before it gets to the recording part of the message.
But on the odd occasion when I have picked up the phone, there have been times when I have gotten a real person on the other end of the line. Normally, they start by saying that they’re from Microsoft and that they’ve detected a problem with my computer.
And this is when I tend to have a little fun.
“Well, that’s interesting. Why would Microsoft be calling me when I have a Mac?” I don’t have a Mac, but the person on the other end of the line doesn’t know that.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m from Mac.” And yes, I really did have some scammer try to tell me this at one point. It was beyond laughable.
“Oh… Then you might be able to help me with my Linux machine.” And I was having so much fun sending that scammer around in circles.
But in the end, I got bored. “Look, dude, I know you’re some asshole trying to get into my system. You can try all you’d like. It’s not going to happen.” Then I hung up.
The persistent bugger kept trying to call back. I’d pick up the phone and instantly hang up. But after the sixth call within a span of 15 minutes (not an exaggeration… I was counting, because I was getting ready to put in a formal complaint with my phone company and have the number blocked), I decided to let it go through to the answering machine. While my voice was giving the instructions about leaving a message, the prick on the other end of the line was shouting in his thick foreign accent: “Ma’am, you need to listen to me. There really is something wrong with your computer.” And he hung up as soon as the beep indicated that the answering machine was recording the message.
The gull of some people. Yet, there are enough people who fall for the scam to make it worth their while.
Today, I want to talk about the malware scams, because all of these phone calls are about trying to deposit some malware onto your machine, so they can do damage later.
Wherever there are people who are trusting and wanting to believe the best in people, there will be people who take advantage of that trust, scamming people out of their good money.
The con artist can be seen throughout history, starting with the medicine man, who would peddle some miracle cure—which was normally filled with alcohol or some other thing that had no medicinal value at all. And there were the street games, where you attempt to find the pea under the nut. And let’s not forget the scam artist that would convince you to invest your money in some great invention—and never come through.
With the internet era, a new breed of scam artist has risen, and the number of scams is on the rise. And the most prevalent scam at the moment preys on parents and their desire to help their children.
In today’s post, I want to talk about the “Help me, mom” txting scam that has conned thousands of people out of their money, all because they believed that the txt messages were coming from their teenage and young adult children.