Amazon Author Page

I’ve set up an author page at Amazon, Matthew Miller. I’m not entirely sure what to put in there.

One of the reasons people post so much politics on Twitter, Facebook, etc. is that we have these platforms to spread our voices, but we don’t always have something to say. Let me pick on myself. I would like to tell people about writing, the worlds, the process, etc, but a lot of that honestly isn’t that interesting. It’s not even ‘you don’t want to know how the sausage is made’ but rather ‘I spent an hour figuring out how to move Helen into the same room as her siblings.’ This is the stuff I love. This means something to me, but you, as readers, probably aren’t that interested in my thought process, and you’re certainly not as interested as I am. Blocking out a scene can take days as an extreme but not infrequent case. Hours are typical. Especially if the scene isn’t otherwise clear, and I’ve gotten pushback on it. YOU don’t want to read six hours of me thinking about who’s in which chair.

I do want to keep the blog/social media going. And thus I’ve got to say something. So I jump to my B-line of thoughts, and most of that isn’t that interesting either. I just tweeted about beans and rice because I’m hungry. (Breaking news: Matt hungry). I could tweet about the gym or the weather. None of that sounds particularly intriguing.

So we drop to the C-line of thought: politics and global finance. If you want engagement, you need to put an emotion behind the post, but most of those C-line thoughts aren’t emotional. The stuff that really gets me going is the A and B lines, which is writing, eating, and the job. So it’s back to politics, and if you want to put an emotion in there, you find something to be outraged about or something to fanatically defend. Cynically, those are raging and virtue signalling.

I don’t have a solution. The Amazon page is pretty lean.

Working hard at Bedtime Stories. Too cold for motorcycling.

Bedtime Stories

I started writing Bedtime Stories because I was trapped in a cycle of morbid laziness. While I was at the Patent Office I was working on a few things, the only one that saw the light of day was probably Lanterns/Resistance, and the other stuff got buried. The reason for that is that everyone died. Everyone. I finally had one of those moments where I looked at myself and said, “Matt. Matt. Calm down, buddy.”

I wasn’t killing off all of these characters out of plot necessity or some idea that art is tragic. I was doing it out of laziness. Can’t think of a good ending for Bob? Knife in the back. Now we don’t need to resolve Bob’s character arc. Alice coming to a complex political quagmire? Strangulation. The political quagmire? Everyone dies. Problem solved.

For a while I struggled with fixing the issue. I had a few moderately murderless stories, but they started slipping as I backslid into massacre. So I put pen to paper about something I call Bedtime Stories, but then was just the Mara stories. No one dies. No one. No good guys get eaten, no bad guys get their comeuppance fatally. No one dies.

That super simple limiting bound made a world of problems for me and oddly set me free. Because no one died I could make a bunch of death jokes, and they weren’t morbid because everything was going to turn out okay. I was also limited by my refusal to delve into problems I had a habit of solving violently, which brought me to children. That was wonderful.

I write first person POV because I want to explore voice. Everything narrated should be narrated by a character. The author, me, physical Matt, either shouldn’t be in the story or is in the story, and if I don’t want Matt in the story, he needs to get out. The children provided a perfect bulwark for that. Mara and much later Elegy became speakers with their own voices, and Mara, small girl child, was a voice I could see and hear. Some Matt slips into everything, but she was almost immune.

No one dies. No one comes to a bad end. They’ll all probably wind up grounded, but that’s it. It’s fantastically liberating.

It’s also a huge problem, because now I have to come up with real endings for all of these people. Plot threads that don’t get cut need to be tied off.

PS: The other thing that got finished during this time period was the Kangaroo Graveyard. Ugh. That’s a topic for another time.

The Shutdown

After a few betrayals in a game of Risk or Diplomacy, a lot of players stop talking to each other. They decide that’s it. In both games, that usually leads to stalemates. In Risk there’s the chance someone will win via cards, but the game drops into this hours-long slog where nothing really happens as players horde cards. More often everyone goes to bed with the game unfinished than someone wins. In Diplomacy it turns into nothing but fighting, but since Diplomacy lends itself to stalemates, no one can win. Again, a stalemate happens.

Both parties in Washington have dug in. I don’t think there’s any communication going on. Trump won’t sign a budget until he gets his wall, and Pelosi won’t fund the wall. There’s no room for compromise there. Neither side is going to persuade the other to cross the trenches. Neither side is going to persuade the other voters. And with the furlough/back-pay bill passed, I think both sides are set up for a long war of attrition.

I don’t see an end to this any time soon. I hope I’m wrong. But in my experience with human interaction when the various factions resort to reiterating the rightness of their causes, there’s no more meaningful discussion. And nothing’s moving through Washington now.

The Flat Earth

I legitimately can’t figure out if @FlatEarthOrg is trolling or not.

Driving westbound from Kansas into Denver there’s a stretch of I-70 that is almost perfectly East-West. It’s also almost dead-aimed at Pike’s Peak. The road itself is a little north, so Pike’s Peak would be straight ahead and to the left, but there’s about 100 miles of straight where you can see the mountain.

Now eastern Colorado is just western Kansas in terrain. Almost perfectly flat with little hills with shallow sides. About a hundred miles away, around Burlington, CO, you come over this low hill and see Pike’s Peak. The crest of it stands above the brown horizon. The peak itself is dark blue against a dark blue sky. The peak is perfectly triangular. My phone is garbage, but I’ll get a shot when I get a new phone.

As you continue to drive west, the peak grows. It gets taller. What’s more, features appear. The shoulders of lower peaks, subordinate summits, and nearby mountains in the front range rise into the sky. They don’t come forward; they come up. By the time you get to Limon, I-70 shanks north to head towards Denver, and by then Pike’s Peak is alone and tall. You can see its white head and beard. Lesser summits are not only visible but distinguishable from the central prominance. It’s magnificent.

People, I moved to Colorado for the scenery. This stuff does it for me.

But Pike’s Peak clearly rises. As one drives in the opposite direction, the mountain sinks in the rear view mirror. It gets lower. It crouches, and the subordinate summits are lost first.

I’ve seen pictures of ships go over the horizon, and they do sink from the bottom up, but I find those pictures blurry and hard to see. There’s none of that in Pike’s Peak. Giant hill rises from behind the horizon, and it can’t do that if the Earth is flat.

Story idea

People have a button that locks them in the moment the button was pressed for the rest of their lives.

Twist: People spend so much time worrying about not missing the right time to hit the button, they stop living.

Scenario: People who have already hit the button are effectively walking dead, locked in happiness, and whatever is done to them now won’t affect the time they have left. The bodies that go on are soulless and treated as such.

Second twist: Bodies are still conscious.

US Treasuries

The US Treasury yield curve has been inverted somewhere since 11/29, or 26 business days ago. If you’re reading and have any interest in finance, you’ve probably heard about this in hushed voices. This is why.

Interest rates follow something called a yield curve. The curve relates the interest rate to the duration among loans to a given credit quality. Bonds are loans. They have a few defining characteristics: maturity date, interest rate, value, and issuer are the biggies.

Working backwards, issuer is the entity that borrows the money. US treasuries are issued by the US government to finance the debt. The US federal government is the issuer or borrower.

The value, or face value, is specifically how much this bond is worth when it matures. The standard value is $1,000, but treasuries may be purchased in any denomination up from $25. Corporate bonds usually issue in higher denominations because this makes things cheaper for the issuer. As such, bond prices are talked about in relation to something called par or in terms of cents on the dollar. Par is the maturity value of a bond, but its discussed in terms of percent. So for a $1,000 or a $25 or a $1,000,000, par is 100 (from 100%). Cents on the dollar goes the same way. It’s useful to talk about how prices move, because in percent, they move the same way for little and big bonds.

The interest rate is the interest the borrower pays the buyer to borrow the money. It is paid twice a year, and the final payment is paid concurrently with the bond maturing. In the real world this takes a day or two past the maturity date to settle. Sometimes this is called the coupon, but this terminology is obsolete. Old bonds had physical tear strips that were removed and turned into the bank for payment. Now it’s all electronic.

The bond comes due on the maturity date. The face value of the bond and the final interest payment, if any, are paid then. The time between now and the maturity date is the duration of the bond. So if I bought a Jan 1, 2020 bond in 2010, it was a 10 year bond then and is a 1 year bond now.

Take a simple example. The US government auctioned 9 year, 10 month bonds today, 1/9/2019. The CUSIP (which is the ID number for all of the bonds of one issue) was 9128285M8. These bonds mature Nov 15, 2028. This is pretty close to 10 years, so we call them 10 year bonds or notes.

The interest rate of the bond was 3-1/8% or 3.125%. So a $1000 bond would pay $31.25 a year in 2 $15.625 payments. The last payment would be paid with the face value of the bond, for a final payment of $1015.625. The 15th is a Wednesday, so it will probably hit your brokerage account by November 17th or earlier.

Here’s the trick. Bonds rarely sell for their face value. In 9128258MB, 103.398824 was the best (lowest) price. That’s in percentage, so $1033.98824 for a $1,000 bond. What this means is that actual yield, how much money the buyer or lender gets for the money isn’t exactly 3.125%. It’s actually 2.728%.

Now the price should be close to the value, but it varies a lot. When people particularly want bonds, the price goes up. The interest remains the same, so the yield goes down. When people don’t want bonds, the price goes down, but again the interest remains the same. The yield goes up.

In general people want bonds that mature sooner more, because we all want money now. The demand for long duration bonds is lower. So the yield of short duration bonds should be higher than long.

That’s not what’s happening now for all maturities. Treasuries that mature in about a year are yielding about 2.59%. 2yrs are at 2.56% and 3yrs are at 2.54%. Durations of less than 1yr are orderly, and yields go down as they get closer to zero. (1 month is as low as the official numbers go) Above 3 years yields go up as the duration gets longer. There’s just this little bit between 1 and 3yrs where instead of yield increasing with duration, it goes down.

People care for a few reasons.

1) Not all inversions precede recessions, but since the fifties, all recessions have been preceded by inversions. This could be a big warning sign.
2) It means people think investment prospects will be better in a few years than in 1 yr. This short term pessimism can lead to problems.
3) It may mean the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates too fast. The logic for this argument is beyond the scope of a blog post, and it’s something we like to yell and fight about in financial discussions. It’s like talking to a counter-shipper about your favorite ship, only less sex, less romance, and more money. Unless you ship Batman.
4) Actually, the Fed has more money than Batman. So think Darth Vader.

Does this matter?

I don’t know. I cannot see the future. But it is an interesting detail, and not all that’s worth knowing is worth doing something about. Put it in your brain hole.

Why are some people saying the yield curve isn’t inverted?

Because classically, we compare the 2yr and 10yr bonds. 10yrs are yielding 2.74%, which is comfortably more than 2.56%.

Why did you say 10yrs are yielding 2.74% but the example was 2.728%?

A bunch of math, and it demonstrates the point that these measurements aren’t exact. There’s some wiggle room here.

Cover and Margins

When people read Bloodharvest, I always ask for information on the cover and margins. Those are two things I really can’t check myself. What I’m specifically looking for are display characteristics. Does the cover look right? Does it appear with big white bars on the top and bottom, sides, or does the image go straight to the edge. Tatiana Villa made a cover I particularly like, but with the variance in sizes between screens and devices, I can’t tell how it looks on everything. I’m always curious.

Likewise the interior margins are basically a black box. Amazon says they take care of it. It looks fine on most devices, but how they come to that is pure witchcraft. I’ll probably hire someone to do the interior when the physical book is released, but I did the ebook using Amazon’s design suite. It seems okay.

Everyone says the cover and interior is fine. God, I hope people aren’t just sparing my feelings.

Feathering the prop

Feathering a prop means turning the blades sideways, parallel to the direction of travel. This minimizes air resistance. It is typically done on modern gliders, but in theory may be done on any human-controled variable pitch propellor. I bet there are exceptions. Some company has to make electric or mechanical nannies that interfere.

Note that gliders may be planes that are intended to glide and may be propellor driven. They become motorized gliders or self-launching gliders, not planes. The licensing is different.

Goblins 1

The average adult goblin is eight to nine feet tall, 2.4-2.7m, and weighs between one hundred and seventy and three hundred pounds, 77-136kg. There is little to no significant difference in height or weight between males and females. While female goblins do have slightly more developed pelvic areas, this is small compared to individual morphological variance.

In coloring the typical goblin has dark, muted skin without bright pigmentation. Gray, blue, and brown are common, and individuals are rarely monochromatic. Exceptions are often due to albinism or melanism. Skin colors do not vary based on morphological position, except as dictated by exposure, injury, and growth. Like humans goblins tan, and outdoor goblins will frequently have darker coloring on their heads, shoulders, and arms. Blue pigmentation often turns blackish-gray as it darkens, but gray and brown both remain.

Albino goblins are typically killed in infancy. This does not seem to be related to mythological or religious reasons. Goblins exhibiting melanism are often indistinguishable from dark-pigmented goblins save by professional inspection, an infrequent phenomena.

Goblins possess two arms and two legs. Legs and arms are slightly longer than proportional human limbs by ten to twenty percent. Some clans (Throathurters primarily and lineages) have elongated fingers as much as three times human lengths and fifty to one hundred percent longer proportionally. The Throathurter clan combines this with augmented grip strength due to sexual preferences. Grip strength is considered attractive to the point of being a primary sexual differentiator. Other clans usually do not, and suffering from reduced manual leverage have weaker hands than humans. Goblin feet are large and flat. Stonefoots do not have especially hard feet but often have thicker sole-skin.

The goblin head is a large organ. Eyes are deep-set and dark colored with large pupils. Ears are slightly lower than human normal, increased in size, but limp. Goblins are not known for being particularly aural, with typical variance between individuals comparable to humanity. The tusks or fangs are six large teeth similar to human canines. Two primary pairs of teeth, one pair top jaw, one pair bottom, mesh outside the incisors and protrude between the lips. These fangs do not serve predatory purposes typically. Their function is to maintain a parting of the lips to allow breathing. Smaller fangs on the bottom jaw may partially interface outside the upper fangs. The layout is small bottom-jaw fang 1, large upper-jaw fang 2, large bottom-jaw fang 3, incisors top and bottom jaws, large bottom-jaw fang 4, large upper-jaw fang 5, small bottom-jaw fang 6. The ‘clicking’ of the fangs is an inherent part of goblin language. It is sometimes written as a click, and often a part of how goblins pronounce the human sound T.

The goblin nose is located in the center of the roof of the mouth. It has two nostrils, though they meet in the nasal cavity only a quarter inch, <1cm, from the mouth cavity. They are separated by an intrusion of the palate.

Goblins are fully capable of taste but have reduced smell compared to humans. Function is similar, though the morphological constraint of the nostrils being internal should not be underestimated. (The common superstition that goblins smell as well as canines does not seem to be supported at all, and author speculates it is caused by the sound of sniffing created when a goblin attempts to use scent identification. Audible sniffing may imply great capability in this field. Author reiterates this is speculation, but included due to frequent appearance in human culture.)


A while ago I helped my father move a desk. It was a ponderous old thing, built like a cube of solid wood. It had to weigh a hundred pounds. But it wasn’t that hard to move for the same reason: it was built like a cube of solid wood. I could grab it anywhere. The top had a lip, and being a plank, I could carry it by that lip. The legs were thick posts bolted to the body and ran straight to the top where it was screw together. Any possible orientation of the desk had big, beautiful hand-holds.

Comparatively, when I moved in Maryland last, I had one of those light, particle board desks that was a bear to move. It was trivially light, about thirty pounds, and between two people it was lighter than a moderate backpack. It was nothing. But it was made of nothing, and you couldn’t hold it any which way because it would break. It crumbled under finger pressure.

The light desk was vastly more challenging to move through hallways and doors than the heavy one because every movement was a calculation. We couldn’t just shove the little one. Dad’s heavy desk cared not. It cared nothing for walls, because the walls were going to break before that thing. Orientation was no concerned because every angle had a great hold. The little one was almost impossible, and I wound up throwing the light thing away so I wouldn’t have to deal with it any more.

Publishing is moving the light desk. Nothing is really hard. Writing the book is hard, but publishing it isn’t. I’ve worked with several freelance editors, and the lead content editor on Bloodharvest, September C Fawkes, was a delight to work with. She did all the heavy lifting on that project. But I used to write in LibreOffice, so I had to convert files. Then in Word I reformatted them, and formatted them again when Augustin of Wordy did brave battle with atrocious grammar. Bowker is the reason monopolistic behavior requires regulation.

Here’s the kicker. None of that was more than an annoyance. None of it was hard, certainly not compared to writing the stupid thing. What was a problem was that every step was a calculation, and I never really knew what the next step was. At no point was step C clear from B, and I was rarely confident that step A had been completed to perfection. It was just anomalous difficulty.

Where I’m going with all this is that Bloodharvest is now in the Amazon Kindle store here.

I wanted it done, so I could approach Bedtime Stories with some idea of how to publish. I wanted a road map, and in self publishing, I had to make my own. It’s done now.

What do you  think? Is it reasonable or not? Are there typos? Is the price respectable? You can read it free in a few places by clicking on theArchives tab. If any of the readers want real, live input on a published novella, now’s your opportunity.

As I look now, the cover preview doesn’t appear. I need to fix that, and I don’t know how. I really want to know how the table of contents works on other devices.

How do I feel about it? I don’t know. I’m elated it’s out there and worried because of the same. I’m resolved. Bedtime Stories and Death Mountain are coming, and I don’t have any fear now that I won’t be able to self publish them. But I also don’t know how I will. It’s not a cheap endeavor.

I’m relieved. It’s done. It’s like my first 5k. A 5k may be nothing, and there are pro authors who drop novels and novellas like it’s nothing, but they’re not me. I don’t have to beat them. I have to beat the guy I was yesterday, and as of this writing, me of 24hrs ago didn’t have a book on Amazon.

Bedtime Stories to editing by Jan 1st, 2019. Death Mountain, full length, 1st draft written by Feb 1st 2019. The timelines of the goals are flexible. Accomplishing them isn’t.