An Alternate History of the Mound Builders

So, as I have finished reading Archaeological Expeditions of the Peabody Museum in Middle Tennessee, 1877-1884 and I have learned that the basic history of the mound builders goes thusly:

Some folks move in and build huge mounds in the western part of Middle Tennessee. Some other folks move in in the eastern parts and they build little towns. Then it appears that big chief-doms arise. And then they fade and Middle Tennessee is more organized around small villages and towns. People put their dead in stone boxes and pile their dead in mounds. Except the babies, which they stick under the floors. Very sad.

And then, weirdly, everyone disappears from the area.

Perhaps because of some kind of food shortage. Or alien abduction. Or they stop making those cool duck bowls and people get depressed about it and leave. Or a Bigfoot moves into the area and yells so loud all the time that no one can get any sleep so they all die and the Bigfoot buries them in their mounds (seriously, the folks here right before we got here had earplugs. For what? Neighbors who fuck too loudly? I don’t know. I will have to find a decorous way to ask an archaeologist.)?

No, no, my friends, I think it’s clear what the answer is: they all wrote books and became such insecure balls of uptight worry about it that when they all thought no one was looking, they moved away and went to live with their Grandmas under assumed names.

My Mind is Going in About Eight Directions. I’m Guessing Eight. I Don’t Know.

1. Okay a new proof copy is ordered and on its way. I told Samantha that I just can’t look at that fucker any more. There might still be errors but folks, I can’t see them.

2. I think I’m overthinking this whole “where to have some kind of reading” thing but let me tell you, it is stressing me right the fuck out. Free and creepy. This is a big city. How is that so hard to come by?

3. Yes, every day is just “Go see what they’re saying at Coates’s” day.


5. I had no idea there was a reason behind the phrase “Democrat x” like “Democrat congressman” or “Democrat lobbyist“. I honestly thought folks did that just to be annoying. Sincerely, if you’re going to come up with a slur, it needs to have meaning to the people it’s used against. Otherwise, they just think you’re an idiot, not that you’re trying to insult them.

6. So, I just learned that the mound-builders in Tennessee did not live in round huts but probably lived in square huts that may have been open on the sides at the corners. Which, you know, makes sense. It’s fucking hot in Tennessee. You want some way to get a breeze.

7. The Mound Builders liked to make bowls shaped like ducks. And really, who can blame them? I kind of want all my bowls to be shaped like ducks, now that I have seen them.

8. And they liked things with this swirly.

9. And you can really tell how much Archaeology has changed over the past 150 years. Back in the day it was just page after page of “We sent the skull back to the museum.” or “We sent the bones back the the museum.” and now it’s all “The individual was left in his grave.”

Adventures in Self-Publishing or Adventures in Independent Publishing

Ha, you know, when I first started doing this, I thought that people who didn’t call it “self-publishing” but called it “independent publishing” were just being wankers, for lack of a better term, about not wanting to be seen as self-published.

But I have to tell you, I do, at this point, feel like calling what I’m doing “self-publishing” gives the wrong impression–like I could have somehow made this whole product myself and had it turn out just like it has. That is an enormous falsity. I am, in fact, independently publishing this. I am doing my part–creating content, project managing, and marketing–and that’s a big chunk.

But I really depended on the skills of other folks to pull this together.

And I think that’s important to stress. It may be that you are the kind of person who has mad skills in every area. Maybe you like the book cover templates they provide just fine and you can copy edit yourself and typeset passably well and market yourself. In that case, I think you can truly self-publish.

But I am not that person. So, I had to be able to pull together a team of folks who could do that stuff. In that regard, living in Nashville has been a tremendous asset, because we have such a large creative community that leans geeky who are excited about the creative stuff people in town are up to and willing to help. I can’t speak for other places, but damn, I feel like that’s a crucial component to my success.

Let’s just take this Kindle nonsense. Last week, I tried to upload the PDF to Kindle and it came out looking… well… bad. Bad is too mild a word, but bad. And it was the kind of bad that scared me not just in this realm, but had reverberations into my professional life (which we will not talk about, except to say that, whoa, are a lot of places relying on magic to fix this or what?).

I was, of course, relying on magic. “Upload PDF”—magic–“Something Kindle readers can use without turning to their significant others and saying ‘Honey, I think a pirate has hacked my Kindle and is trying to send me a very lengthy ransom note. Something about ghosts. And Nashville. Do you know anyone in Nashville?'”

This is really the difference between ceremonial magicians and kitchen witches. A ceremonial magician would have been all “Draw an elaborate symbol passed down from Solomon himself with interlocking circles and triangles and words in dead languages written with letters you don’t even recognize”–“upload PDF”–magic–“Pirate ransom note about ghosts.”

Ha, that’s a little pagan humor there for you. Please don’t beat me up, ceremonial magicians. I don’t even know if you draw elaborate symbols passed down from Solomon himself. I just assumed you did because who else has the time? Ooo, yeah, I said it! (Please don’t turn my cat into a frog. I have a great respect for ceremonial magicians. I just also like to talk a lot of smack.)

Anyway, so I was all “What am I doing wrong?” to Samantha, who took a look at it and got some help from this dude she knows and long story short, it is not magic. It’s kind of a pain in the butt.

I mean, it still looks like magic from my end,  because I am just sitting here befuddled. But it is not.

Adobe even has directions for how to go from PDF to Kindle’s MOBI format, which you might use, if you ever need to do this.

Though, I think we should all appreciate how close “Get this open source program” is to “magic” for geeks.

Ha ha ha ha ha.