Tuesday, July 29, 2008

244. Question Reality Manuscript Published on Lulu.com!

A little Lulu Television box widget for the Question Reality storefront! Here is the new "revised abstract" for QR (after being exposed to a bit of Shock Doctrine): Question Reality is an arduous journey of re-organization of the mind of an anorexic, academic female in fight for her own physical and mental survival. In the process of Reality being wiped "blank slate," she re-invents the wheel of ecology and science, systematically designing novel organizational maps of human interactions with the environment. Written in a synergistic, satirical dialogue between two graduate students--Terra the Biogeek and Buz the Geobum--who venture on a fictional road trip up the California Coastline. Part 1 of a two-part edition. Keywords: human-environment interactions, environment, humans, self, philosophy, ecology, evolution, earth science, psychology, health, value systems, perception, language, human ecology, shock, blank slate.

A postcard advertisement of "In Her Bathrobe She Blogged," by Robin Amber Kilgore. Through meeting this humorous, witty, spunky author at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival, I reached a "Tipping Point of Trust" in terms of being finally convinced that I should publish through http://www.lulu.com/. Robin's work is now available on Lulu, Amazon.com, Buy.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and perhaps quite a few other retailer websites! Talk about GLOBAL distribution! Please first check out http://www.lulu.com/content/1818646.
I can't help myself incessantly promoting my most influential cartoonist on the face of this planet, Hayes Roberts, who also inspired me to publish at Lulu.com. Roberts has two hilarious children's books available: The Wiener Dog Magnet and The Brave Monkey Pirate.
I also had the opportunity to meet Kenia Caze, a very kind, outreach/multimedia representative at Lulu. It was the most wonderful experience to put a human face onto an internet-technology interface! My days of electronocommunicatiphobia (ECP) are over!
I was handed an advertisement card from Lulu at the LA Times Book Festival. It is my little keepsake and I modified the images here to bright green (to compliment the bright orange)! My good friend and writer, Robin Leigh Anderson, advised me to make neon green and orange business cards, because they will stick out of a pile of thousands of anonymous business cards!
As you can tell, I worship Lulu promotional items. I wish the Lulu concept of "blank slate" creativity could replace the Disney concept, such that imagination is standardized into Mickey Mouse. I think if everyone were given a blank slate (and not through shock therapy!), the collective intelligence of our society would skyrocket.
Some more Lulu promotional verbage found on the advertising card I received at the LA Times Book Festival.

I am so excited to announce the publication of the Question Reality manuscript! Wow, it has been nearly three long years since the "completion" of writing (during the leave-of-absence academic year 2004-2005). What an immense release of weight I have been carrying on my shoulders! (Now, to consider what I have exactly been doing that last three years, that is another interesting question that I myself am trying to figure out! In a whirlwind tour, I was learning geology and environmental media theory and practice, and I largely trained myself in nearly all possible methods of multi-media storytelling such that I have the ability to engage upon my ceaseless "organized yelling" without WAITING or RELYING upon anyone else to perform of filter my work for their own profitable benefit. I am now a self-sufficient zen-film-maker and zen multi-media storyteller. In addition, I had to come to terms with the whole concept of why-publishing-companies-don't-publish-1000-page-books-from-new-authors. Hmmm. There is only one Harry Potter author for this entire planet, and I don't anticipate to be Harry Potter author number two. I had to slowly convert my "get-straight-As" academic mind into an economically-ecologically savvy-mind. Why this took three years for me to figure this all out, it is perhaps because I didn't have a mentor and had to expose myself to painful trial and error before figuring out what finally works!).

Retroactively, coming to think about it, let's just say the last three years was about a chaotic exploration of "Victoria's potential ecological niche space" in this human leaf cutter ant colony. After so many years of trial and error, now I am ready to pursue certain discoveries of opportunity to make it "actual niche space."

The publication of Question Reality was made possible and AFFORDABLE (to poor graduate students) by Lulu (please visit www.lulu.com). One day I would like to hug the CEO and all the heads of Lulu who gave "blank slate" technology to the people, withough any megacosts of implementing filtered, agendized middlemen. Through DIRECT access to technology, Lulu (just like Google) gave power to the people. Not only is it redistribution of wealth, it is redistribution of INFORMATION FLOW, disintegrating hierarchal structures and constructing "two-way-street" pathways. In a society embedded within Laws of Mass Numbers, technology is what can save democracy, is what SAVES democracy. Some joke states that "republicans rain down shxt on you and democrats bother to give you an umbrella." But Lulu? This company is beyond definition. Lulu doesn't even rain down shxt on you. Instead, they provide you a bouquet of flowers and a blank slate: the opportunity to dream and create and use your mind to design a better society... and minimize technological hassle along the way. Your voice doesn't need to be filtered through third-party agents. Your creations simply represent the purity of your very own thoughts!

Sorry I tend to become overwhelmingly, emotionally philosophical about technology shaping a global human leaf cutter ant colony (and wowee, now I am conscious that I am a PART of the experiment!). Before I forget, the specific internet location of my manuscript is at:


I had the opportunity for my manuscript fo be “reviewed” three times already—in a serious and also a more hilarious way. Please see the first set of reviews here:


Coming to think of it, in the last three years, I have had the opportunity to discuss Question Reality with so many people, ranging from family and friends to very well-respected musicians, actors, authors, and most importantly… professors. Thankfully, being the daughter of a fire ecology and climatology professor by default surrounded me with people who had credentials stamped on their foreheads. During my struggling year at UC Riverside (2005-2006), I had incredibly insightful conversations with a whole slough of professors: Dr. Dolf Seilacher (a highly respected paleontologist), Dr. Pete Sadler (a most humorous stratigrapher who debunked some claims of loudmouth Jay Gould), Dr. Eugene Anderson (a retiring anthropologist who specialized in Chinese culture and perceptions of the environment, wrote a book called Ecologies of the Heart that I currently owned), Dr. Sharon Walker (a new professor in hydrology/engineering, “faculty brat” of a professor at USC), and of course, Ann Aasen, my counselor at UC Riverside who helped me make it through the year as “psychologically presentable to the university” though I was internally shattered to pieces… in a state of chaos.

I was also chewed up and shooed away by Dr. Jared Diamond at UCLA (perhaps even in less than 5 minutes). Exposure to the author of Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse ended up being superb training ground on how to sell your soul in less than 15 seconds. Which ended up being useful for pitching my story idea to agents at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. I take pride in having the illusion that I managed to convince 5/6 agents to “check out my work.” Even though Dr. Diamond was a jerk to me, I can in part understand why—because he gets bombarded all the time with people and he has to be selective about who he chooses to interact with. And why would he even bother to give a shxt about me—some unknown grad student. I was informed that this man was aware he only has so much time to live and an agenda to pursue, so getting into his “ingroup” is a bit of a challenge. Despite these depressing encounters with Dr. Diamond, I still respect him very greatly of his work in “re-interpreting history with a biologist’s hat.” Which is breakthrough work for the field of historical ecology—which I am totally into! I refer to Dr. Diamond’s work of “environmental conditionality” (not “environmental determinism”) quite a bit!

Through this sampling of intellects and their reactions to my brain, I had come to realize several elements about human behavior in operation at intimate and mass scale. Ranging from lengthy one-on-one conversations with Dr. Sadler and Dr. Anderson to this brief, demoralizing encounter with Dr. Diamond, I have come to realize that the human mind constructs eusocial ecological niche spaces in place and time, such as to control information and environmental management for one single mind. I had also come to realize that the most liberal-minded intellects are the ones who are about to retire (Dr. Anderson and Dr. Sadler) and the risk-takers who just started their careers (Dr. Walker). People in the middle of their careers are more eager to gain and maintain university power and status… and as a result, leaves them thinking inside narrow boxes.

I also learned that professors hate talking about things that they wrote in their books or lecture about in class because I am sure they don’t like hearing themselves repeat what they already wrote and are paid to talk about. Sucks. That’s why I make films. Tell a story once, tell it well. And let technology do the repetition.

With all this said (also a little bit philosophical, and a little bit aside), when the time is right, I hope to encounter these people and ask them if they would be interested in reviewing Question Reality (saying a few kind words and some constructive criticism). I would actually be more excited to approach them upon my writing of future books. QR was my mistake as defined by the pre-existing arbitrary parameters of bureaucracy and society, and now I will try to create and complete projects that will fit inside THEIR boxes. In conclusion of all this epiphany-riddled jarble, it’s a very good idea to get reviews from people who have credentials. These are the dudes who will carry you up the oak tree of human society with the powers of their affinity-based capillary action.

Since my struggle of self-publishing and marketing since the fall of 2005, I had known about Lulu but was never convinced to publish because technology and computers on their own have NO human face. Hence, fall of 2005 was the birth of my disease (not listed in the psychological diagnosis books yet): Electronocommunicatiphobia or ECP. I also got this disease through a series of email transactions in New York with people that had no human face and I was strapped down in school. I couldn’t take a plane ride anywhere… anytime soon.

Overall, in the hierarchy of my self-perceived Reality and existence, my mind renders DIRECT and fairly ROUTINE human contact as “Reality.” Technology-mediated transactions are devoid of information, and most importantly emotional attachment. So I am not holistically stimulated. I came to realize also that people could get away with being rude via email and phone… and were much more constrained face-to-face.

But by late April of 2008, I went to the Los Angeles Times Book Festival at UC Los Angeles and low-and-behold, it was the first time I met a REAL lulu-published author, in which I was given a complimentary, TANGIBLE book from comedic author Robin Amber Kilgore (who compiled a series of adventures in Los Angeles, a spin-off of her myspace blogs). The book was an amazing quality print. No one would have noticed (or cared) whether it was published by Lulu or Penguin.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to hammer Amber with questions for about a half-hour. All these technical-nuts-and-bolts in publishing with Lulu. She told me about the straightforwardness of the Lulu publishing process (which later I suffered through a little bit, but now I am glad to say “I am a Survivor!”).

I think Amber (who was also a southpaw, I am left-handed!) was so impressed by my energy and enthusiasm (or maybe she was so annoyed by my endless bombardment of questions), that she provided me with a complimentary copy of her book (and signed it!). Or maybe she wanted to pacify me and get rid of me with a smile on my face (probably not the case, we are in great email correspondence)! I read a few excerpts of Robin’s book that night alone at a 24-7 Kinkos in Santa Monica that was full of sleeping hobos (I was a bit uncomfortable, but kept me alert), and that night I emailed Amber with such enthusiasm about the style and sincerity and pure comedy of her writing. And not only that, if she actually pursued science (she is a paralegal), she has a level of precision and systematism to her still poetic, everyday writing that she would pass off very well as a scientist. She already has it in her blood, her intrinsic mindset.

Later on, I took that email and modified it as a 5-star review for her book on lulu.com. Please see the review here (as well as Amber’s book):



(1). Robin didn’t have a Table of Contents. What?! I thought all books were supposed to have a STANDARD format… like with a Table of Contents. She said that you could structure your book anyway you wanted to. LULU IS A BLANK SLATE. Get it in your head. The formats used in the major publishing houses are “conventional” but ARBITRARY. Write a book upside down, inside out. Put the beginning in the middle. Doesn’t matter. Oh! Because of that, I created a Table of Contents, but I was not overly stressed about including “page numbers.” Though next time I will include page numbers. (One thing though, if you wanted worldwide distribution, you have to have an ISBN code and a “copyright” page).

(2). Robin also had “minor editing” booboos and could not afford a copyeditor. Her book was not “perfect perfect perfect” (but dxmn close). She told me that the latest book written by Alan Greenspan (absorbed by a New York publishing house) also had ridiculous spelling errors. If New York publishing houses can reveal their condition of human flaws, then so can she. And so can I!

I also told Robin that if I hired someone to copy-edit my book (which my friend Lauren Wilson loves to copy-edit and even offered to do so, I was like… “are you sure?”), it would probably cost me 30,000 dollars since it would be a 1000-pager in 6x9-inch format.

(3). And finally, Robin told me not to worry about costs and distribution and such. It costs money for the car code but you can do everything else for free. As long as you keep your book on the Lulu marketplace. That is amazing news to hear—because at one point, I lost $1400 to a publishing house and that was only going to be half the cost to publish three books on a restrictive run.

Putting a human face on some kind of phenomenon puts me in this mentality: “Heck, if she can do it, so can I.” And after all barriers in my mind lifted, the presence of Amber instilled this zen-ish essence within me.

So, my Question Reality manuscript had its flaws. Its mistakes. But I let it go. I learned from my mistakes. I am ready to move on. I can’t carry this baggage anymore. I must let go and diffuse my brain into society and see how far some ideas may catch. I do admit the holistically inspirational presence of Tariel has been a most essential ingredient of my letting go of my past—I will resume to use his name in my blog, it is unavoidable. The presence of Tariel, with all other ingredients added—stabilized grad school, meeting Lulu, acquiring all my knowledge in earth science and environmental multi-media—has simply allowed me to let go, and move on.

My friend Oscar was kind enough to place on his review that Question Reality is a “Don Quixote for human relations to the environment,” but to harp on something earlier, I will not be arrogant to think that I can pull of a Harry Potter series from a major publishing company. That is my null hypothesis. The goal is to achieve the alternative hypothesis, despite its high, high, high unlikeliness. Sam Sweet, one of my most amazing professors of evolution, told me to “expect the unexpected”—with biology, with anything.

But then again, BIG BOOKS ARE NOT COOL. And Question Reality is one of them. So big that I had to divy the book into TWO PARTS. In spring of 2003, I took a picture of my friend Andy Simpson identifying a plant with this GIANT California Jepson Manual in his lap. It is horrendously inefficient to haul around some big fat book in a back pack when hiking miles upon end—and it ends up that the book weight takes up HALF the weight of the back pack. The whole California Flora class of UC Santa Barbara looked absolutely RIDICULOUS (this should go in my Biologically Incorrect script). So, imagine people carrying a Question Reality book with them? Ha ha ha. Funny, funny, funny. I didn't mean to break society's back. But society almost broke mine. Hmmm. I am trying to ameliorate the problem by having this accessible via ELECTRONIC FORMAT. Breaking the bad cycles here. The eye-for-the-eye syndrome. Otherwise this whole world would be a bunch of tribes killing each other off.

And now I know the rules of the game of literary/environmental publishing, I am now ready to play it. It started with the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, but that is another blog.

In addition to meeting Robin Amber Kilgore on that very hot, hot day of April 2008 (to think we were only a few yards away from the book signings of Ray Bradbury!), I had the opportunity to meet with Kenia Caze, a very kind Lulu multimedia employee. She was occasionally tapping into Robin and my conversation (Kenia was attending to other interested parties), and I eventually shook her hand with sincerity, “Wow! It is so wonderful to see a human face of Lulu! It is so… overwhelming! I think I am over my ECP of Lulu.” Computers are just not real or human to me. Now I know that Lulu has human faces behind this blinking-light computer interface. I am not religious or anything, but I was in a “god-bless-your-soul” type of mentality (kind of when I thought I saw an “angel” out of Wendy the nurse who catalyzed my self rescue out of anorexia). “God bless! God bless! Like you people are REAL! You are my saviors!” Tell me it’s desperation. And tell me it’s all a matter of perception. I do say, desperation can make your mind think you saw angels. Uh huh. Been there. Done that. But now, I am rejoicing my state of desperation with heavenly existence of Lulu in a non-secular way. And definite non-New-Agey way. Don’t go New Age with me right now. We’ll take that subject at a later time.

I am still in this state of divine liberation from technological deadness into the realm of the Humanity of Lulu! Even as I am writing right now.

It is the most amazing, purifying feeling in the world to think that I have at least ONE PIECE OF LITERATURE THAT IS ACCESSIBLE TO THE WORLD AND NOT FILTERED BY A SINGLE SOUL. IT IS PURELY MY VOICE… full of copy-editing mistakes—


Though there is supposedly stigma to “a few tiny mistakes” and for “self-publishing” in general (an artificial stigma generated just so some intimidated people can keep their middleman jobs), there is a level of purity and romanticism and Don Quixote-ism and zen-satisfaction in the whole process. That I participated in the entirety of Question Reality, ground up, from a shattered brain to a partly organized brain, then to formatting and interacting and guerrilla marketing and who-knows-what’s-next. I did it all by myself (with the immense moral support of several people). I am from the dirt. I am from the people and I speak for the people and this environment that keeps us people alive in the first place. It’s a longer road than a short-cut to the top because you are Paris Hilton, but taking the long road step-by-step is worth it, because I have EARNED TRUST and RESPECT from people, I didn’t INHERIT it.

After I finished basic design of my Lulu storefront interface, I emailed three people. First I emailed Robin Amber Kilgore, thanking her for the life of me, for the inspiration. I directed her to my website and wished her all the best. I have to check if she emailed me back. For some reason, she gets listed on my SPAM box and that is annoying because she should be on a “top priority” email box. Second, I emailed Kenia Caze, thanking her so much for the inspiration and for having a booth accessible to the writers isolated from the major New York publishing houses in southern California. I know Lulu is doing some multi-media gigs and I would be excited to volunteer some projects in the future. The third email with to Hayes Roberts, my Cartoon Idol at http://www.bluebison.net/. I also wrote a review on Lulu and you can view it here.


What gets me about Roberts is that he is not famous when he SHOULD BE. His work is not riddled on morning cartoon networks or Hallmark cards or t-shirts or mugs or the next big cartoon blockbuster film. Roberts is the next big thing to be discovered, and I honestly don’t know why he doesn’t take his portfolio and his website down to Hollywood and have a few drinks with some Pixar folks. Heck, I could hook him up. I just have to talk to my friend Connie (a math doctorate who worked for Pixar a couple of summers during grad school). Discovering someone like Roberts is like one of those things that would convince me to become an “agent.” Or include “agent” as part of my list of various humanly arbitrarily-overlapping professions. If Bluebison were everywhere, I would just melt on the floor overwhelmed with cuteness. I would want to squeeze and pinch everyone’s cheeks (Don’t worry. I don’t do that in real life). I am thankful that the vast majority of living organisms are not that cute as Bluebison cartoons, I would feel guilty for consuming anything. And then I would die, not out of anorexia, but cuteness-induced obsessive starvation. I think it’s a new disease of not being able to eat because the organisms that sustain you are too cute to eat. Aha. HYPERCUTENOREXIA. That’s what it’s called. I think PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals) is promoting this kind of disease.

I told Tariel about Question Reality. It was wonderful to show him a tangible paperback, and I pointed toward the end—how I devoted the completion of this manuscript to him. How his inspiration allowed me to “build a bridge and get over it,” or BABAGOI (an acronym created by Robin Leigh Anderson). Tariel instantly told me that having this book published will be a very good thing to put on my resume. Oh ya. For example, what if there is a business or non-profit group that needs something published for their records or for educational purposes. They could easily consult me and that I would have the know-how to walk them through the process. Wow. I feel empowered that I know half of what I need to know to format a book for publishing. I just don’t know how to build a physical printing press and mass-produce a thousand copies of books. I only know how to painstakingly make one copy of a book Xeroxing away into the wee hours of the night and early morning—as the ghost of Seth approaches me in the middle of Xeroxing and expresses some interest in reading my manuscript (that was a crisp memory in September of 2005, it sent a lightning strike down my spine, he is one of the antagonistically synergistic reasons why I wrote QR in the first place… Rejection is painfully good. Falling down forces you to grow. The presence of Seth made me realize that if I didn’t write QR, no one would ever get to truly know me, heck I didn’t coherently even know myself! The funny thing is that I don’t even feel resolved. I think I need to stop by Stanford and pay a visit… Anyhoo. Talk about emergence of subliminality).

Lulu does the printing-press-mass-producing part at least. Amen. I had enough time consumed with an unruly copy machine and a couple of incompetent workers at Kinkos.

I guess now I am a zen-author and zen-book publisher. Wowee.

I want to be a zen-storyteller. They are multi-media generalists and take responsibility of all the layers of the project from the beginning to some form of “seeming end” (The other good thing is that it keeps your carbon footprint and production costs low, for all those environmental calorie counters). The goal is to impose as much work upon yourself and minimize the degree of reliance on other people. This minimizes waiting time, imposes lots of work on an individual, and can engage a high-energy person into activities of self-destruction, but in the end, I think the benefits outweigh the costs. You are no longer in a prison in your mind that is created due to lack of knowledge—which ultimately forces you to rely on other people.

With lulu and all the other multi-media gadgetry I have come to learn to use with some degree of skill, I now have control of my own intellectually-creative destiny.

Thanks to Lulu, I was given the opportunity and power to Question Reality with my own hands and brain, and distribute it to the people, my neighbors, all by myself.

Glory Halleluliah to Lulu! Ahem and Amen!!! (in a non-secular way)

Victoria, Now Zen Author, Fud

P.S. Amazon.com is trying to copycat Lulu via CREATESPACE at http://www.createspace.com/. This avenue might be better for film distribution. I spoke about this opportunity with Black Velvet Pro CEO, Oscar Flores.

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