AI and predictive text, satire, fiction and humor

Bad Carols, Season 2: Once Upon a Fireplace (the Christmas Joy Song)

Last year, I spread joy and cheer with the Bad Carols Project, aka Christmas Carols Nobody Asked For: A series of ten carols, with lyrics generated by predictive text, set to music of varying badness by yours truly.

Despite great clamor from the fans never to do this again, Bad Carols has been renewed for a second holiday season.

This year’s first project is an attempt to recreate one of those narrative folk songs with a million verses no one remembers, like “Clementine” or every forgotten attempt to set “Twas The Night Before Christmas” to music (there have been many).

Please….enjoy?…

Once Upon the Fireplace (the Christmas Joy Song)

For piano score, click here.

For mp3, click here.

Once upon the fireplace
Santa Claus consulted
With your grandma and her cat
You were not alive yet

Chorus: Christmas merry, Christmas happy, Christmas baby too
Christmas day is, just because of Christmas joy for you

Grandma’s house was fuller than
A face all stuffed with cheer
Christmas came a day early
And then Christmas was just here

Grandad said that it could be
The finest Christmas yet
But heaven only smiled back
And snowed everybody in

Paradise right here and all,
The family still froze!
Remember when we had last year
A feeling in our hearts?

Santa Claus could barely breathe
As Emily was born,
Soaking wet but somehow fine
With being up tonight.

Elf kickbacks surround the child,
Merry reindeer too.
Like the tales that we sing
And the gifts we bring to you.

A Christmas like the Christmas past
Shall never be again,
Holding Jesus in your eyes
Will make this Christmas last.

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satire, fiction and humor, writing

What It’s REALLY Like To Be A Professional Writer

The number-one question I get asked by people who find out what I do for a living is “What is it like to be a writer?”

And I…I don’t know.

I HAVE NO IDEA

I’VE NEVER NOT BEEN A WRITER

THIS IS MY ONLY SKILL

Which is to say, sure, let’s talk about my amazing writer lifestyle.

I Work From Home

This one was a lot more impressive before COVID-19. Now, a bunch of people who did not previously work from home are now working from home. And everyone is realizing that it’s actually not as cool as y’all dreamed back when you were trying to envision yourselves living my unattainably glamorous writer life.

The primary features of working from home for me, A Writer, are:

  • Cats
  • Self-direction, aka “being able to get work done without someone breathing down my neck”
  • Not wearing pants

I’m Kind of My Own Boss, I Guess?

The truth is, no one who sells their labor for a living is their own boss. You may call your boss by a different name than “boss.” I call mine “clients” or “editors.” But I still have people who expect me to deliver certain things by certain deadlines and who are varying levels of helpful to me in that endeavor.

What I don’t have is someone to manage the details of how I deliver those things by those deadlines. I don’t have anyone who expects me to be at my desk at a certain time, or who makes sure I have the tools I need, or who barks at me if I stand at the water cooler too long. I don’t have someone who processes my payroll or deducts my taxes or keeps track of my healthcare spending, either. I have to do all those things myself.

In other words, being a professional writer is having to do all the work of both labor and management without getting any of the benefits of being the latter. But if you are a hermit slash control freak (like me), it’s an ideal setup.

“You Should Be Writing” Memes Can Go to Hell

Judging by how much they post and share “you should be writing” memes, a lot of amateur or aspiring writers seem to find them extremely helpful.

I’m not one of them.

The reason I don’t take “you should be writing” memes seriously is because my writing time is scheduled. Always. I write for about six hours a day – four in the morning and two in the evening.

If it’s writing time, I don’t need to hear that I “should” be writing, because I am writing. If it’s not writing time, I don’t need to hear that I “should” be writing, because I should not be writing – I should be doing whatever that time is for, like running errands or cleaning my house or playing Skyrim or having hot sex with my spouse.

This, by the way, is my number-one piece of advice for aspiring writers who want to be actual writers. Schedule your writing time, and then show up to it like you would to any other obligation.

If you don’t need “you should be at work during your shift” memes, you don’t need “you should be writing” memes, either.

I Eat Food, I Guess?

Food has actually been one of the hardest parts of being a full-time writer for me. I like my zone. I do not like interrupting my zone to tend to the needs of my body, especially when it wants food again, ugh, I just fed you *checks watch* four whole hours ago.

Some of my favorite food hacks:

  • Eat the same things every day, if you want. It significantly reduces the brain power I have to waste on food.
  • Think macros, not meals. As long as I get carbs, fat and protein in every Instance of Putting Food in My Facehole, I’m good.
  • Leftovers are your friend. Eat your friend.

Sometimes I get more creative with the making of food items. Sometimes I blog about them. Blogging about food generally leads to regrets and is not recommended, unless you are not me. Then you do you.

I Mess Around on Twitter Quite a Lot

To the onlooker, I appear to mess around on Twitter too much. Indeed, one may wonder how I get any writing done at all. (This is why people insist on sending me “you should be writing” memes.)

In fact, I do a lot of prewriting and field-testing of ideas on Twitter. I love Twitter because I can brain-dump whatever ideas I’m kicking around into the void, and the void tells me which ones have traction.

I don’t know why you all enjoy 280-character political shitposting so much, but here we are. Also muffin recipes. And that time I broke my own notifications. And making fun of my cats.

I Live in a House and Own a Car

Like a lot of Americans, I too live in a house and own a car.

The car is extremely lonely thanks to the need to quarantine. “Why am I stuck in this garage?” my car asks. “I’m not the one who will get COVID and die if I leave the house.”

If you also live in a house and have a car, congratulations! You are two steps closer to living a glamorous writer lifestyle just like me.

If you don’t live in a house and/or own a car, maybe you are one of those writers who doesn’t live in a house or own a car. Those writers also exist!

Have more questions about what it’s like to be a writer? Drop me a line or maybe a tip. After all, I glamorously require money to buy food in order to survive! Livin’ the dream!

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AI and predictive text, non-compliant space, satire, fiction and humor

They Don’t Know What They’re Looking For: An AI Generates Book Marketing Copy for NAHARA

Move over, Botnik: I have a new AI obsession.

Enter copy.ai, which is specifically designed to help marketers generate social media copy for their products. It’s basically GPT-3 trained on a bunch of marketing copy.

I’ve been playing around with promotional copy for NAHARA, Book 2 of the Non-Compliant Space Series (due Q1 2021 from Neuroqueer Books!). So I decided to ask copy.ai to weigh in.

The Copy

Something’s rotten in registered space – and the crew of the Jemison intend to find out what it is.

After uncovering a slavery plot on a far-flung space station, the Jemison heads for an even further-flung planet suspected of supplying the trafficked slaves. They find the last thing they expect: a Niralan colony lost for centuries, guarding a terrible secret. But the Jemison’s crew are carrying deadly information of their own in a book whose destructive – or creative – force could change life as they know it.

And Compliance is coming for them.

copy.ai’s Facebook Post Recommendations

When one of you is a Compliance Officer, there’s no such thing as personal space. But are you ready for what happens when the crew of the Jemison defies authority? NAHARA: A Tale of Compliance.

…I like this one. It’s basically NAHARA from the point of view of the antagonist. (N.b. The antagonist is not read for what happens when the crew of the Jemison defies authority.)

NAHARA is a technological and biological marvel, a gripping sci-fi thriller, and a reminder of humankind’s capacity for ethical atrocity.

Forget social media promotion; I’m repurposing this as a back cover blurb. “Humankind’s capacity for ethical atrocity,” indeed.

Compliance. The word itself is instant code for resistance, noncompliance and the deepest threat to humanity’s survival.

“Compliance” is code for…wait, what?

Also, not everything is about humans, geez.

NAHARA is a scifi noir detective series. Set in a future where the U.S. has lost its first-world status, it follows an ex-cop (Santiago), his mentor (Brizuela), and the android liaison (Andora) who get tangled in interplanetary intrigue and conspiracies when a strange book falls into their hands.

I hate it when the AI writes a better book than I wrote.

Google Descriptions

These are 90-ish character descriptions tuned for Google search results. I am…disturbed.

The crew of the Jemison is a burnt-out, near-mutinous group – former partners drawn together

…I mean, no lies detected.

After the UN-sanctioned slaughter of the Niralan homeworld, one captain and her crew

copy.ai just took a very dark turn. I mean, sure, NAHARA has slavery and murder and messy breakups in it, but it doesn’t have genocide. …yet.

Deep Space Nine relaunch. The Jemison crew try to navigate their way through the newly discovered Niralan

How DARE you, GPT-3. Nahara is very obviously a Voyager reboot.

Instagram Captions to Create Vibes

I’m not sure what vibes are or whether it is strictly OSHA compliant to create them by rubbing GPT-3 all over my novel manuscript. But here we go.

They couldn’t afford to let it go. They didn’t know what they were taking on. And by the time they did, only one of them could save the ship.

This is a better blurb than anything I have written so far, and I 100 percent want to steal it and put it on the back of the book in place of that thing I wrote at the beginning of this post.

You’re in the wrong storyline, Compliance said.

Dammit.

I’m a Niralan diplomat. This was my life. I am not accustomed to mercy, or forgiveness.

…Actually, this is the plot of THE AMBASSADOR.


NAHARA comes out in early 2021. Until then, pick up the prequel, NANTAIS, from the publisher or on Amazon Dot Com.

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