The Fucks In THE FLUX: The Statistical Analysis You've All Been Waiting For

I have long claimed that The Flux is a bigger, better sequel to my book Flex – but doubtlessly, you’re all wondering about that one unassailable hallmark of quality:
How many times does Ferrett swear in The Flux?
If you’ll recall, my favorite review for Flex came from my Goddaughter Carolyn, who said “I would recommend this book to people ages 15+ because f*** is in the book on almost every page.”
Further investigation turned up that Flex contained the word “fuck” 95 times,  or roughly once every three pages.  (Most of that is from Valentine. She swears a lot.)  (Also, my friend Angie noted with amusement that I proceeded to toss off three more “fucks” in the acknowledgements like it was no big thang.)
So if The Flux really is bigger and better than Flex, should it not have more fucks in The Flux?  I did a little survey, and the answer is:
Yes!  The Flux is fuck-superior to Flex, with 101 fucks.  Fuckmathematically speaking, The Flux is 6.3% bigger than Flex.
…but honestly, my friends, I feel like you deserve better than statistical jiggery-pokery.  The truth is that The Flux is also a longer novel than Flex, so if you’re qualifying quantity as fuck-density, we’re still averaging the same rate of roughly one “fuck” every three pages.
But hey.  The Flux has origamimancers, culinomancers, bookiemancers, [REDACTED]mancers, [EVEN MORE HEAVILY REDACTED]mancers, Valentine falling in love, Aliyah learning to kill, Paul learning to fight dirty, and of course more heavily implied pegging scenes.
So it’s bigger in the ways that count.  Just not a greater density of fucks.  And I am sorry about that.

I Feel Awful About Killing Her

Last night, I killed a woman. It wasn’t quite murder, honestly – more like involuntary manslaughter – but I actually had problems getting to sleep, because I kept seeing her mutilated face just before her body plummeted into the mineshaft.
My crime?
I didn’t hit the button fast enough.
And it’s weird, because if we’re counting pixellated bodies, I’ve perpetrated genocide several times over, starting with accidentally dropping dudes to their death in Defender back in 1981 and ramping all the way up to a full-fledged eating of Manhattan crowds as the Blacklight Virus in Prototype.
Yet this one girl?  She bothers me.  And the next morning, I’m still filled with regret that I didn’t act fast enough.
The game is Until Dawn, and it’s an interactive storytelling game in the style of Walking Dead.  You’re watching a narrative – in this case, a horror narrative, where eight dumb teens gather up in an isolated mountaintop lodge and are killed by a supernatural killer out for revenge.  As the story goes on, you make choices – do you show the infatuated boyfriend how his girlfriend is making out with her ex? As a girl, do you try to make out with your boyfriend or tell him you’re just friends?  Do you hide in closets and scare your friends in this creepy-ass lodge, or do you try to get them to work together?
If you search you can find totems, which give you maddeningly incomplete flashes of future events – that maybe you can use to change the awful destinies in store for you.
The game does not allow reloading.  You play it through like a movie, with no rewinding.  And the murders don’t come for a while, so… you get attached.  It’s a little soap opera, where you want Shy Nerd and Shyer Nerdette to fall in love, where you like the snarky way that Rude Jock talks.
Then the killings happen, and you’re responsible.
I’d been trying to get this couple together because she was unabashedly slutty and he was witty. They got out into the cabin alone, where she revealed that she wasn’t quite as sexual as she portrayed herself as – and I chose to be compassionate, telling her we were all fronting, and it was okay who she was.  And they started to make out, and that’s when the killer abducted her.
I chased after them.  I had a choice: take the shortcut, or go down the long way?  And I took the shortcut, which had three mini-Quicktime events, and…
I missed the third event.
I fell in the river.
And ten minutes later, when I finally caught up with the killer, and found her body, they flashed back so I knew exactly what button-press I had missed that had taken this young girl’s life, and I still feel bad.
I have never felt this horrible about “missing the square button” in all my life.
And I can’t get her back.  Getting to that stage in the plot took three hours, and there’s still several hours of story to go, and even if I could restart, I doubt I could remember the exact sequence of decisions I made to make the dead girl the dead girl that I was rooting for.  I know from reviews that the decisions you make change their personalities, and it wouldn’t be quite the same.
I was invested in a way that videogame fiction doesn’t normally do.  Yeah, there’s Sephiroth moments where shocking things happen in the narrative, but those are hard-coded – she’s going to die no matter what you do, and it makes the tears flow but you could play through Final Fantasy a hundred times and she’s going to die, she’s always going to die.
Until Dawn, however, a human being died because of my lack of skill.
And as I drifted uneasily off to sleep, I wondered: What if I’d made that square button press?  What if I’d taken the long way?  Would the long way have still been too long?  What if I had been less compassionate, would she have been safe if we hadn’t tried to have sex in a genre where sex == death?
This is an unsettling game. The temptation is to put it down and not be responsible for killing any of my other favorite characters – and the game knows which characters you like, because it asks you, tailoring the game to your terrors.  When I play, I’ll be putting them in danger again, and yet I have to know what happens.
Until Dawn is making me complicit in murders.  I could just turn off the game, return it for Gamestop credit, look at FAQs and YouTube videos to find out what happens in the “butterfly effect” branches of the game.
But I’m going to play.  I have to do better.
I hope I can do right by the survivors.

THE FLUX Is Out Next Week! What Can You Do To Help?

So the sequel to Flex drops next week, and hoo boy am I nervous. This is where I figure out whether my follow-up is an Empire Strikes Back or a Matrix: Reloaded.
And, unfortunately, it’s also another make-or-break moment for me as an author. Flex did well, but that could just have been “People were curious to see what Ferrett the blogger could produce”; The Flux will be what tells publishers whether I have legs as an author.
So the past few weeks have been a little tense.
But! If you liked Flex, and would like to help juice the sequel, there’s several things you can do:
1) Pre-order the sucker. It’s available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powell’s, and frankly, just about anywhere that sells books. (It might not be on the shelves, but it’s easy to order in.) Pre-orders, as noted, are largely what drive authors’ careers, so if you have been on the fence about picking it up, well, doing so would help.
(No, I don’t care where. Anywhere you get the book is great for me, frankly. You’re being kind enough to entrust me with a couple of your dollars in the hopes I’ll tell you a good story, I’m not going to tell you what format or store to purchase it from.)
2) Mention it. If you’re excited about reading the sequel – which features beloved daughters in danger, Valentine falling in love, the weirdest ‘mancy seen yet, and epic showdowns between teams of ‘mancers and heavily militarized police squads – then mention it on Twitter, or Facebook, or wherever you roam.
(Oh, and for the record: you can always, always post a photo of my books on a shelf and tag me in it.  That has yet to get old.  I get giddy every time I have proof that my words are on actual shelves!)
But mentioning it is not nearly as nice as…
3) Review it! Fun fact: I’m told Amazon decides which authors to promote based on a combination of Amazon reviews and Goodreads reviews (which they also own). And one of the reasons Flex has done as well as it has is because so many of you lovely people left reviews at Amazon (currently 120 reviews, most of them good).
If you really want to promote an author, any author, leave a review somewhere. And if you want to help The Flux along, leave a review after you’re done.
(But please – an honest review. The flat-out worst review I saw of Flex was someone saying, “Well, I’d normally give this book four stars, as I thought it was a B, but Ferrett’s a friend so I’ll give him five.” That was like a knife to my heart. Judge my book not on your love for me, but whether you enjoyed what I wrote. I’ve seen some two-star reviews from friends – not many, but a few – and I still thank you guys for telling the world what you thought of a book you didn’t much care for.)
4) Attend my book release party! If you’re local to Cleveland, show up at the amazing Loganberry Books on Friday, October 9th. There will be cupcakes and Flux-themed nails and a nice suit and a reading.
5) Nothing more! The truth is, all this promotion only helps a book so far. But the thing that really sells a book, more so than any other shill-criteria the marketroids can engineer, is this:
“Did you read Ferrett’s book?”
“Man, you should.”
And I can’t force that. I wouldn’t want to force that. All I can do is hope to get the book into as many people’s hands as possible, and then see what you think. I did next to no promotion for Sauerkraut Station, and you people loved that. (So did I, which is why I’m working on the sequel to that.) If The Flux is as good as I think it is – and I fucking love it – then it’ll resonate with you.
And if it isn’t, then it deserves to drift away.
But I think it is good, and I think if you liked Flex you’re going to love this thrill-ride, and so if you’ve been kind enough to enjoy my debut novel, well, your continued push keeps me in this business, and that’s awesome.
So. Pre-order. Review. Maybe come to my book release party.
And after that? Enjoy.

"You Have A Sister": Unboxing A Whole Damn Box Of My New Book!

One of the best things about being an author is getting a box of your new book, and getting to introduce it to the old books:

I don’t know if I’ll ever stop tearing up when the new books arrive. But I sure hope I don’t.

Marking A Transition Time: Bifocals Ahoy!

I’d been putting off going to the optometrist for months now, which is unwise for a boy whose mother and grandmother went blind due to macular degeneration. But I knew the signs: taking off the glasses to read close-up text.
I did not want bifocals.
Ah, but God has ways of forcing my hand.  When visiting a friend at her motel this weekend, I accidentally sat on my glasses after removing them to read some tiny text indeed.  Now I have skewed glasses that only fit on one ear.
And sure enough, presbyopia has indeed set in, and I need bifocals.  I’m told by many it’s not that bad; you get used to them quickly.  I wouldn’t know; because I go for the top-end bifocals with the UV protection and lightweight lenses, I have to wait a week for them to arrive.  I’m sure I’ll spend some headachey time next week craning my neck to look at things.
But it’s necessary.  I’m getting older.  And I wanted an entry to mark this day when I transitioned, because I am getting older.  I feel that friction of the sand running into the bottom of the hourglass.  And it’s not bad – I’m approaching the peak of my powers now, writing better things than ever, squeezing more things into a satisfying life.
The end of a grand meal is approaching, and we’re still well into the main course, but it makes me appreciate each bite a little more to know that the check is arriving.
But hey. Despite the fact that I couldn’t find the kind of glasses I like in town (metal rims without nose pads), these new glass frames are pretty badass:
Bifocals, here I come.
For an old dude pounding on the keyboard, I’m still pretty hipster, no?
…oh well.