Tag Archive: Melodee Wants to Know

Sep 05

Melodee Wants to Know – What If “They” Are Responsible?

 

I need you to look at a recent article…

http://news.yahoo.com/mystery-alignment-dying-stars-puzzles-scientists-190650982.html

First of all, the headline is a little misleading. So is the first paragraph. Both make it sound like the bipolar nebulae are in a line across the heavens (from our point of view), but what the researchers are puzzled by is the fact that the axis of these nebulae are all in the same orientation and point in the same direction.

The article hints at a few possible explanations, but there isn’t anything solid yet. More work is clearly needed.

But, what if…

Some advanced alien civilization is fascinated and obsessed with having everything in the same alignment? Sort of a severe case of cosmic OCD.

And what if said space faring obsessive/compulsives are going around, aligning the spin of stars, and then triggering the explosive events that appear, to us, as the bipolar nebulae?

Yeah…all of those butterfly and hourglass shapes in a wondrous array of colors would be pretty all pointing the same direction spread across the galaxy.

Well, unless your home world is in orbit around one of them.

Just wondering…

Keep Loving!
Melodee

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/09/05/melodee-wants-to-know-what-if-they-are-responsible/

Aug 12

Melodee Wants to Know – What About Pets?

 

In particular, I’d like to hear your thoughts on pet insurance.

As this article (http://news.yahoo.com/employers-offer-pet-insurance-employee-perk-204149713.html) discusses, some employers are offering pet insurance as an employee benefit.

I have cats (four, one with one eye and no ears) and a dog (one with three legs). Long stories for both. Like all pets, they have needed some healthcare in the past, and it is always staggeringly expensive.

I spoke to a friend once who worked for a vet’s office, and she told me that the vets always said that, “…you quote them a price that will make their knees buckle and then guilt them into paying it.”

And there is no doubt that vet costs have gone through the roof, rising even faster than human healthcare costs.

When I was a kid, I remember my dad going to the local feed store and buying the rabies vaccine and giving the shot himself to my cat. I think the shot was like $2 or something. The last time I took the cats and dog to the vet in the states for their rabies vaccines, it was just over $150 for the herd.

It seems that today pet insurance is almost required.

What say you?

Keep Loving!

Melodee

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/08/12/melodee-wants-to-know-what-about-pets/

Aug 07

Melodee Wants to Know — What Can Possibly Go Wrong?

 

What Can Possibly Go Wrong?

Wow…

That’s really all I can say. Just wow.

Check out this article and answer the question at the top of this posting: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/-scientists-create-wireless-link-between-human-and-rat-brains–194607862.html

Wow…

Keep Loving!

Melodee

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/08/07/melodee-wants-to-know-what-can-possibly-go-wrong/

Aug 03

Melodee Wants to Know — What About E-Book Prices?

 

What about Apple and E-Books?

Actually, what about E-Book prices?

Most authors are paid in terms of a percentage of the price of the book sold. The details vary from publisher to publisher and from author to author. For those on the outside looking in, a particular author with a particular publisher may get a different percentage than another author with the same publisher. In the self-published world, there are cases where the author gets a flat amount per book sold. Depending on a ton of factors, the percentage the author gets might be based on the actual selling price of the book or it could be based on the cover price, regardless of the selling price. Also, the percentages vary between print and E-Books, but since we’re looking only at E-Books for this article (http://news.yahoo.com/ny-judge-apple-colluded-raise-e-book-prices-231629411.html) we’ll just ignore that for now.

Yeah, it’s complicated.

The real bottom line is that in most cases, the higher the price of the book, the more the author gets per book sold.

It doesn’t matter if you agree or not, but the fact is that legally speaking, Apple was found by a court of law to be guilty of price fixing. Some would say gouging. The several publishers involved have, essentially, admitted guilt and settled. While the last say will—as the article points out—rest with the Supreme Court, right now Apple is indeed guilty…in the same way that OJ is innocent of murder.

Anyway…

From purely an author’s point of view, is the fact that the books are selling for higher prices a good thing? In general, higher prices mean higher royalties. Isn’t that good for the author? Or, perhaps, do the higher prices lead to fewer sales and that translates into less income?

From my own personal experience, I can’t really say…E-Books account for about 2% of the time I spend writing and less than 1% of my income. If graphed, I doubt I could even find the income impact on the chart.

But there are many authors who write exclusively in E-Books with some print-on-demand copies as a kind of spinoff. What’s your take on this?

And then there is the impact on the readers, the people buying the books…

What’s your take? How do you feel about the idea that a group of companies got together to artificially inflate the prices of the books you read? And, perhaps even more interesting, by how much do you think the prices were increased?

What say you?

Keep Loving!

Melodee

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/08/03/melodee-wants-to-know-what-about-e-book-prices/

Jul 28

Melodee Wants to Know — Are You FLOPping Around?

 

Computers have become entrenched in our society. Pretty much everything we use and touch has a computer involved. Even the cup of coffee or tea you’re drinking right now depends on computers to grow, harvest, transport, market, and sell the product or some part of it relies on a computer at one or more stages.

Some computers are pretty simpleminded, like the one that controls your watch. Others, like the ones discussed in the following article are staggering brilliant… http://news.yahoo.com/incredible-technology-supercomputers-solve-giant-problems-153719212.html

Anyone old enough to remember—or interested enough to have studied—the early days of the space program will know that today’s $1 school calculators have more computational power than the computers used by NASA to get to the moon. There is no doubt that computers have gotten more powerful, smaller, faster, and easier to use as time has passed.

But let’s look at a very specific area of computer use…

Every author knows computers are a big part of our lives. We use a computer to access the Internet for research. We send and receive E-Mail for a myriad of reasons related to our profession. And we, of course, write our stories on a computer.

But it wasn’t always so. I’ve been around long enough that I have actually written entire books on a typewriter (at least it was an IBM Selectric!) and mailed off the hardcopy to publishers. The first computer I used to fully write a book was an Atari 1200 XL using a word processor called Paper Clip. It even had spell checking! I still have the computer and all of the peripherals and software, and it still works.

Honestly, I’m not sure I could go back to the Good Old Days. I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to. But all of this does lead to a few questions…

First of all, is the pervasiveness of computers adding to the “dumbing down” of society? Do we rely too much of computers to think for us and solve our problems? Personally, I think this is a yes and no deal. By and large, I think not. As the above article discusses, we use super computers to solve complex and important problems. The machines do this not by being smarter than we are, but simply by virtue of being able to do a huge number of calculations in a short time and not making what one of my math professors called “Idiot Mistakes”…like dividing four by two and coming up with one. The computers aren’t smarter than us…just faster.

Second, what about that whole smart thing? Artificial intelligence has been around for a long time, but we’re reaching the point now where the computers are fast enough and have enough memory that AI can actually work. One definition of if a computer is actually intelligent or not is if it can carry on a conversation with a human and the human not know they are talking to a computer. Those of us who write science fiction often deal with this idea. One thing that we often do is to give the computer some little idiosyncrasies to make it clear that the humans (or other species) in the story are still smarter than the computer. We like to feel superior. But—in reality—will that always be the case? Will we always be smarter than the machines we build? I’m not so sure of that.

And this leads to the concepts of future history…how big of a part will computers play in our future, and will that part be one leading to a utopian or dystopian world? Both side of that coin have been played out in literature many times. I see a little of both.

What say you?

Keep Loving!

Melodee

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/07/28/melodee-wants-to-know-are-you-flopping-around/

Jul 24

Melodee Wants to Know – What About Grammar?

 

I admit it…I’m a Grammar Nazi. Just ask my kids.

Maybe it’s from nearly 25 years of writing professionally. Maybe it’s from being deaf and the written word being my main form of communications. Maybe, as has been suggested more times than I can count, I’m just a bitch.

Bad grammar and spelling irritate me to no end…especially when it comes from so-called professionals. The reason really doesn’t matter all that much.

Have a look at this article: http://news.yahoo.com/ny-school-issues-reading-list-riddled-errors-105330935.html

That’s right…professional educators screwed it up royally. And some say the education system is just fine. But I digress…

For the readers…does bad grammar and/or poor spelling in a story bug you? Do you just toss the book aside in disgust, or do you even care? I suspect most readers fall someplace between the two extremes.

Authors…how much do you focus on grammar and spelling? This is really two questions in one, and I would love to hear how much you worry about it as you write, and how important it is to you in the final release.

And, authors, what about editors you have worked with…how much emphasis do they put on such matters?

As you can probably guess, both are important to me, and I try to get it right from the first draft. But let me tell you a story about an editor at a major house I hooked up with many years ago…

The story was set in rural Arkansas during the depression, and the leading man was a poor farmer with almost no education. He used the word “ain’t” in almost every sentence. The misguided copy editor assigned to the book insisted that I remove this “…offensive and non-existent word…” from the entire manuscript or he would tell the acquisitions editor to drop the book. My representative and I talked about it. She contacted the chief editor and made it clear they would publish the story with the dialog as written. If they wanted to muck around with dialog, another publisher would be more than happy to leave it alone. The chief agreed, and pulled the copy editor from the project. By the way, the book spent 17 weeks on the NY Times Best Seller List.

The moral to the story is not to fear the editors.

What say you?

Keep Loving!

Melodee

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/07/24/melodee-wants-to-know-what-about-grammar/

Jul 21

Melodee Wants to Know — What About Planetary Life?

 

What about planetary life?

Anyone who writes science fiction—particularly “hard” SF—has to deal with this issue. The fact is, especially in hard SF, this can take many forms…more on that in a minute.

This article discusses a real-world (in this case Mars) situation: http://news.yahoo.com/mars-life-search-hindered-planetary-protection-concerns-scientists-112342935.html and there are concerns we need to address. Do we risk contaminating Mars with Earthly organisms in order to advance our understanding of the planet? Or do we cripple our exploration to protect either the pristine Martian environment or existing Martian life?

But let’s look at these issues from the point of view of an author building a universe…

Just as one example that pretty much everyone will know (as opposed to pulling out some possibly obscure SF references), Star Trek had the Prime Directive. In a nutshell, this directive prevented Kirk (and presumably the rest of Star Fleet) from doing anything to interfere with developing civilizations. And yes, that is exactly what we are talking about. After all, if you infect an entire planet with the rhinovirus and the population has no immunity and they all die, isn’t that interfering with their development?

In my Immortal Love Universe™ (the setting for all of my books with Siren/BookStrand) the issue of protecting existing life has been hinted at but not directly addressed in the released stories. All of the current works take place very far in the future, so there are few pristine planets left for such first contact. In the Flights of Fancy series, there are first contacts with existing civilizations, but the attitude of the Empire is that interference is sometimes needed. The problem is that the Immortal Love Universe™ starts in about 1950 AD and runs for about 22 billion years. No, that’s not a typo. Billion. There’s plenty of room and time for expansion of these details.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t expand this idea just a little. The same concept applies to contact between any two differing cultures…say Native Americans and Europeans. Yeah…that went well.

Anyway…

I really have several questions for those reading this…

For readers and authors alike, what should we do about Mars? How much science do we sacrifice to protect the Martian environment, or, how much of the Martian environment do we sacrifice for the sake of science?

For readers only, how should an author handle this in a story (or group of stories)? Do you even care?

And lastly, for authors, how do you deal with the concept in the tales you spin?

What say you?

Keep Loving!

Melodee

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/07/21/melodee-wants-to-know-what-about-planetary-life/

Jul 18

Melodee Wants to Know — What About Promotion?

 

What about book promotion?

Or, more specifically, what about book promotion services?

There are—as every author knows—hundreds or maybe thousands of companies out there who will, for a fee, promote your book. The exact definition of “promote” varies all over the place, and so does the price.

The real question comes down to if the companies provide any real value to authors and readers.

I have a few questions for you to consider…

First, for authors, do the promotion services you have used (or considered using) provide any value for you? Did you get what you paid for?

Second, more for readers, do you pay any attention to things you see coming from a promotion service? Do you read their posts in the several message loops or do you just sigh and delete them unread?

And lastly, back to the authors, what services would you see the ideal promotional company providing? What’s your wish list? And, how much would you pay such a service?

Here are a few things on my list…

Pay for Performance – Some kind of a commission basis.

Submission of a Book to Reviewers – Saves me the trouble of doing it.

Sends Promo E-Mail as Me – Uses my E-Mail address to send notes so as to maintain branding.

That should get you started!

Keep Loving!

Melodee

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/07/18/melodee-wants-to-know-what-about-promotion/

Jul 15

Melodee Wants to Know — What About Stem Cells?

 

I am, by and large, pretty conservative. For most of my life I considered myself to be a Republican, but a few years back I came to realize that I am much closer to being a Libertarian. Perhaps more telling is that I am fiscal conservative but a social liberal. For example, I support a small, highly efficient federal government. At the same time, I support same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

But, as even an extreme left-winger can imagine, my mix of conservative and liberal ideas doesn’t sit very well with most of my right-wing friends.

Take this article as an example:

I know a little about medicine. My daughter knows more, and it was Debbie who actually brought this article to my attention. Her question was a simple one, too…”Mom, why would anyone oppose such technology? Why would anyone, for some silly political ideology, condemn thousands—maybe millions—of people to die when this offers a very real possibility of curing them?” (And yes, Debbie really does talk that way.)

Why indeed.

When this topic comes up and my extreme conservative friends start talking about why the use of stem cells is wrong, I get the urge to smile, reach across the table, and bitch-slap them.

In many conversations I’ve had since this article came out, my right-wing colleagues have made comments about those needing new livers often are in that position due to drug or alcohol abuse, so let’s take that away from the table. I’m told (by Debbie) that a pancreas should be no more difficult to “grow” than a liver, so we’ll make the jump to a different organ and a different disorder caused by its failure.

Diabetes is caused by a failure of the pancreas to produce insulin. Yeah, that’s the VERY short version. In some cases, diabetes can be triggered by obesity, but often it just sort of happens. We’ll ignore family history for now. There have been some successes in transplanting a pancreas into a diabetic. So, what if we could “grow” a new organ for people with diabetes?

I haven’t looked it up, but it seems that the costs of transplanting a pancreas into someone would be less than the long-term care for that same person left with the bum organ. After all, diabetes impacts every system in the body.

I think this comes under the social liberal part of my politics…

I support stem cell research.

What say you?

 

Keep Loving!

Melodee

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/07/15/melodee-wants-to-know-what-about-stem-cells/

Jul 10

Melodee Wants to Know — What About Pillaged Artifacts?

 

What about ancient rip-offs?

It seems that throughout history, various colonial powers have taken ancient artifacts from their original locations. This article discusses the resolution of one such event:

While many countries have been involved in this practice, it seems that France, Great Britain, and the United States have been particularly active in the trade.

Dr. Zahi Hawass (former Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs for Egypt) has been very active in securing the return of many items to Egypt. While there is no small amount of controversy over the ego, ethics, and practices of Hawass, no one can deny that his work has led to repatriation of artifacts taken from Egypt by past colonial powers.

The actions taken by Hawass have encouraged other countries to press for the return of antiquities now “owned” by outside holders. Added to this is long-standing and still building effort by many Native American groups to secure the return of artifacts and lands taken from them by the American government.

I have mixed emotions about this…

I believe that ancient artifacts belong to their location of origin, but I am concerned about the preservation of these objects. The historical significance of antiquities can’t be overlooked or understated, and so preserving them for the future is of utmost importance.

To illustrate this, let me present a totally fictitious and, perhaps, absurd example…

Let’s assume that in 1800, a full headdress was taken from a small tribe of Native Americans. Since that time, the artifact has resided in a museum someplace where professionals have preserved it in excellent condition. The tribe, as it exists today, is very small, maybe a few hundred members, and is quite poor. They are so poor, in fact, that they simply could not afford to preserve the headdress.

Now, is it in anyone’s best interest to return the item to the tribe when the odds are that the headdress will be neglected (not intentionally, mind you…just a matter of economics)? Or, is it better to leave it in the care of the museum where it will continue to be cared for?

I think we need to consider this when it comes to ancient artifacts. In the above somewhat wacky example, I think the best thing is to return title (or whatever you want to call it) to the headdress to the tribe, but the item is to remain on permanent, non-revocable loan to the museum.

The major problem is just who decides what gets returned and what doesn’t. Do we really want to leave such important decisions to national governments, politicians, or the circus that is the United Nations? Personally, I think not.

What say you?

Keep Loving!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/07/10/melodee-wants-to-know-what-about-pillaged-artifacts/

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