Friday, June 28, 2013

Talking To Robots

I haven't been ignoring vampires, I promise. I'm still writing my series vigorously, but for this blog I seem to be gravitating toward the shiny metal hooligans because they are currently my biggest audience.
Obviously, I love the idea of artificial intelligence. I love silly, cute little robots that serve no bigger purpose than to be toys just as much as the giant machines meant for the technological betterment of society. But there's one robot I've never understood and that is the 'bot.
I mean yes, I understand that they are malicious code, poorly masquerading as a human in order to lure the gullible into giving up their personal information. It's their methods that confuse the crap out of me.
Take this blog, for example. I've got two, maybe three people who read regularly at best. Yet looking at my traffic stats, you would think that I've got a huge international following and that tons of other sites are regularly feeding me tons of traffic. 
Hello Latvia! Are you ready to rock?!
Alas, no. I'm not huge in Russia, that just happens to be where most of the fraudulent referral sites are hosted. It works kind of like this: I'm suposed to go to my stats page and see a huge boost of traffic. Curious as to what milkshake is bringing all the boys to my yard, I click on the referral link and either my machine is immediately owned (or is that pwn'd?) or I'm blindsided by a bunch of ads for natural male enhancements. 
Now, I'm not the most tech savvy, but I'm at least smart enough to copy the link into Google instead of clicking on it. And what do you know? All of the search results include the words "referral spam." Sadly, I realize that some people are going to click these links, just like some people are going to give their bank account information to imaginary royalty from Nigeria. But unlike the Nigerian prince scam, this one seems to lack a wide enough target. It just seems odd to me that someone would put enough effort into a scam that is only going to be seen by blog owners who routinely check their traffic stats.
And then there's the Twitter bots. Every once in a while I get a cryptic message sent to me with a conveniently shortened url. Obviously, this is spam and I mark it as such and go on my way. Then there are these guys:

What you are looking at is a bunch of bots who have "favorited" a post I wrote back on May first. The post in question was meant to generate hype for the release of my second book. There's no dates on there, but every one of these was favorited well after the release was announced, the last one being today. Also, unlike real favorites, I do not receive any notification from Twitter that this has happened. What is the point of this? I've checked out a few of their profiles and all of their tweets read like bad poetry after a bottle of Wild Turkey and a 3am trip to Denny's (please don't ask me why I know what this type of poetry looks like).
So what am I supposed to do here? Is the heady rush of flattery meant to make me follow them? Am I then supposed to engage the witty bots in conversation? Is that when they send me spam? I'm so confused! Half the people on Twitter are so busy posting their own promotions that they don't have time to care what anyone else posts and the other half are teenagers following real and fake celebrity profiles, so how does this work?
And lastly, there is this delightful correspondence that I received. Mind-boggling grammar is theirs, not mine:
Hello dear new friend,
My name is Victoria female. I see your profile and like it,i do not normally stay on this forum, can you contact me back at my private mail (victoriaevans172@ yahoo.co.uk) to have my pictures and details,and i also have something to discuss with you is very important thanks whileI am waiting for your reply
Thanks
Miss Victoria.

Now, yes, I admit this looks like every other email or Facebook spam out there, but the weird part is that this was posted to my Goodreads inbox. You know, that other social media site that is about posting all the books you've read to feel smarter than your friends? At least I think that's what Goodreads is for. I'm not very good at it. Regardless, I know it's not a dating site and even if it were a dating site, it seems like it would be more of one of those Rom-Com movie dating sites where Zooey Dasch...er...long named googly eyed girl who isn't Katy Perry meets introverted book-loving Ryan Gosling, not OK Cupid or Craig's List Casual Encounters. 

Seriously, bots, it's like you aren't even trying anymore.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Yesterday's Future

As I have mentioned about a million times, one of my obsessions is past visions of the future and whether or not they ever come to fruition. Most of those I've seen have come from publications such as Popular Science, but Hollywood has their fair share as well. This is a look at futures that have either passed us by or are on the near horizon. I'm skipping the obvious, like 2001, 1984, and Radio 1990. Okay, so the last one wasn't science fiction at all. But the internet has proven that this was a real show. I had thought for a while that it was a fever dream I had as a child, especially the week where The B-52s were the featured artists. Now about that mid 80s Tab commercial I only saw once...
Sorry, I got distracted there. Anyway...

Off-world colonies will be populated by replicants in six years. 
At least according to 1982's Blade Runner. But if you go back to the source for the movie, Phillip K Dick's 1968 novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, they've been out there since 1992. I graduated high school in 1992. Computers still used 5 inch floppy discs. Self-checkout had yet to catch on. Cassettes were still the most popular way to listen to music. The only way my car was going to fly was if I took an exit ramp at unsafe speeds. Dick's vision for only 26 years into his future was ambitious, to say the least. But what about the movie? Forgetting the whole nuclear wasteland aspect, could flying cars and robotic replicas of humans happen by 2019? It seems a stretch at first, but considering that Google has a car that drives itself and Japanese robotics companies are competing in a race to the Uncanny Valley, is it really so difficult to consider? Technology advances exponentially, and I still want my flying car, Dammit!
The Robinsons have been Lost In Space for sixteen years.
In October of 1997, the Robinson family set out from an over populated earth to explore other planets for colonization. The closest we came to this was the unmanned rover, Pathfinder, landing on Mars in 1997. I think it's safe to say that in our lifetime, we're only going to get lost in the mall parking lot.
Speaking of 1997, where's Skynet? According to the original Terminator movie, the machine that eventually becomes our robot overlord gains sentience and nukes Russia in August of '97. While, thankfully, this hasn't happened, let's revisit that car that drives itself. There are a lot of people who feel that if anyone is going to build a machine capable of thinking for itself and enslaving the human race, it's Google. Personally, I think Google is safe because even if they do bring about the downfall of humanity, Apple will eventually create a sleeker, pricier overlord, which will magically make the population forget that it wasn't their original idea. (Oh yes I did just go there! Deal with it!)
Ray Bradbury once said he was a preventor of futures, not a predictor. 
While it is easy to argue for the opposite of this, let me remind you that you are not reading this from Mars. The Martian Chronicles begins in 1999. Fahrenheit 451 does not specify a year, but it takes place after 1990 and is speculated to be anywhere from 2010 to 2050. Oddly, a lot of people seem to feel that the e-reader is a harbinger of the future outlined in this book. Ironically, most of those people haven't read the book, own a flat screen TV, a computer, iPod, and maybe even a tablet, and have completely missed the point. I dare say that despite e-readers, tablets, and the internet, we are probably closer to the future laid out in Fahrenheit 451 than any of the others I've laid out so far. Censorship and privacy concerns dominate the news these days and I don't even want to think about how many hours of television people watch each day. But cheer up! We still have nine years until the drought causing comet from Tank Girl crashes into the earth and gives Malcolm McDowell control over all of the world's water supply. See? There's always a silver lining, even if it doesn't come with a flying car. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Author Confessional: Mad With The Power

In my head, I'm an anal retentive, highly organized, punctual neat freak. In reality I'm a clueless, scattter-brained, disorganized ball of hot mess. Every so often I spend an entire weekend coming up with a new organizational system that is utterly fail-proof, only to find that by the end of the week, the mail is once again piled on the dinner table, the laundry is on the floor, and the desk is covered with whatever projects I've halfway abandoned.
It's the same way with writing. I've recently started a huge timeline on the wall of my office to make sure that the dates I keep throwing around don't contradict each other too much. So far I haven't run into too many problems, but let's just say it's a good thing I've established Andre as a boy-genius because he might have had to finish his three degrees before he was of legal drinking age to have accomplished some of the things I've made him do. But creating the timeline had done me the favor of casting a harsh light on that which is my biggest stumbling block as a writer: my own god-like ego.
A dramatization of a god-like ego. Actual size may vary.

I've created a world. A world in which I have total control over the lives of the beings that I have created to inhabit this world. It's a world I am quite proud of, and like any obsessed megalomaniac, I have given each and every one of my creations a detailed and rich history. Whether any of that makes it into the story or not is inconsequential. The idea is that by building a full life, each character becomes real and develops their own voice instead of coming off as background scenery.
In theory this is a good practice. I don't take it to quite the extreme that Tolkien did, or George Lucas for that matter, but I do have literal volumes of notes on everyone. But in reality, this is a dangerous wealth of information because it can be detrimental for you, the readers, if I was to forget that I haven't revealed something and make reference to it.
And then there's things like my codes. In the first book I reveal that the organization uses a set of codes to quickly convey a situation. So far codes one, three, seven, and ten have been explained. What are two, four, five, six, eight, and nine? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Seems a bit silly, doesn't it? I can tell you the entire life story of Lucy's grandmother, who isn't even alive at the time the story takes place, yet an important plot device like the codes doesn't merit more than a passing thought.
Writers are weird.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Computer In My Pocket

My husband caught me writing my last blog post and was completely baffled by the fact that I was typing it up on my phone. I was baffled by his baffledness seeing as part of the reason I fell out of habit with my last blog was the absence of a good blogging app. Now that Google put out an official Blogger app I've become unstoppable.
See, don't tell my husband, but I'm kind of in love with my phone. I have to laugh when people are baffled (I'm going to use this word until it has no meaning!) by the fact that I don't own or watch television. I actually think they imagine me sitting on my sofa, staring at the empty space on the wall where the tv would be, lamenting my boring existence. Well the joke's on them because I don't even have wall space for a tv, let alone a sofa the dogs haven't claimed as their own! Ha!
The truth is, I've got every time wasting form of entertainment I'll ever need in the palm of my hand. Games? Check. Books? By the hundreds. Websites? Too many to count, which is why I limit myself to one or two to obsessively read daily. Videos of adorable frolicking animals? If I must. Music? Eh, not as much as most people, but I do have the capacity to carry an impressive number of albums wherever I go. And of course, all of that social media I complained about a while back.
But when I'm not wasting my time, my phone has become a highly efficient tool of productivity. It's amazing to me, really. I'm somewhat convinced that this phone is the only reason I was able to complete my last book as quickly as I did. I have a full office suite with which I was able to make edits on my chapters while eating lunch at work, or waiting in the doctor's office, or really anywhere that wasn't in front of my computer at home. I have a user-friendly note keeping system with a sleek interface that has alleviated the need to peel sticky notes out of the bottom of my purse. And I don't even have to type any of this out. All I have to do is speak my thoughts into the phone and it types them for me.
Okay, actually, I don't do the voice to text thing because I'm too self-conscious to talk to myself in public. But I totally could so... um, so there!
 Who would have thought, just ten years ago, that this was possible? Okay, besides those of us who carried PDAs. Yeah, I'm going to be that smug person who totally predicted the smart phone. But hey, even I, in my infinite wisdom*, could not have predicted the enormity and scope of what my phone is capable of today.
I know, it's majestic
And before you ask, yes, of course I have an Android. Do you honestly think someone with the word ROBOTS in the name of her blog is going to carry around some silly thing named after a fruit? P'shaw!
*some restrictions apply. Infinite wisdom may not be infinite nor wise. May contain nuts**
**Totally contains nuts

Friday, June 14, 2013

I Guess I'm Supposed To Talk About My Book

So now that everyone knows my whole online presence is like that dream where you have to give a speech and you forget to wear pants, allow me to explain why I'm standing here in my underwear by having a completely rational conversation with myself:

So, what is your book about?
You have no idea how much I hate that question!
Back when I first came up with the idea, I would have just said, "Vampires" and left it at that. Or I might have added that it's a new take on vampires. But that was nearly a decade ago. Now if I just say, vampires, I'm likely to get a polite nod or an impolite eye roll out of the person asking.
Then again, had I written the book at eighteen, I would have told you it's a metaphor for the human condition and man's inhumanity towards man or something equally as stuffy and baseless. No, I am not exaggerating. I was really into the human condition back then.
So what do I say? Well, after the awkward pause, I usually mumble something about a scientifically plausible take on vampires or urban fantasy, and quickly clarify that it is not another Twilight clone. Usually this is met with a polite nod, a "good for you!" and probably a "sure it isn't," after my back is turned.

Okay, fine. But, dude, seriously. What is your book about?
First of all, it's books, not book. There are two available right now and more on the way. But to answer your question, yes, my series is about vampires, that is, it's as much about vampires as Star Wars is about Jedis* or Star Trek is about Starfleet. These things exist in their respective universes as pivotal characters to advance the plot, but ultimately, these are adventures. My books are adventures too.

Did you just compare your books to Star Wars and Star Trek? That's a bit lofty.
Yes, as a matter of fact, I did. Yes, it is a bit lofty, but it is not much of a stretch. Star Wars tells the story of Luke Skywalker, a farm boy who discovers he is destined for greater things, like putting an end to an evil empire. In the Eyes series, Lucy Soriano is a college dropout who also discovers that she is destined for greater things, specifically, to put and end to the tyrannical reign of the titular bad guys, The Eyes of The Sun.
Star Trek is a series with an ensemble cast who explore the galaxy looking for new worlds. While the Prime Directive states they are supposed to adhere to a strict policy of non-involvement, they aren't very good at that because that would make for a boring show. The Eclipse Project is an ensemble group who have something of their own prime directive. Their mission is to keep vampires from treating the citizens of New Orleans as dinner, while keeping the citizens from knowing that vampires exist. This isn't as easy as it sounds. Wait, I guess that doesn't sound very easy. No wonder the crew of the Enterprise are always getting into deep space hijinx.
And much like both Star Wars and Star Trek, The Eyes of The Sun requires no actual hard knowledge of science to make it enjoyable. I fling the word DNA around with as much reckless abandon as the writers of Star Trek do words like graviton particles, dilithium crystals, and photon torpedos.

I might be more confused now than before. Does Lucy have a light saber or a phaser gun?
Neither, but she is pretty handy with a CPA. No, not an accountant, that's a weapon, an elegant weapon for a more civilized age. ;)

Dude, stop already.
Okay, fine! Look, obviously I missed the whole point of this conversation and all I managed to do was make my imaginary me confused and angry. What are my books about? Vampires, sure, but also action, adventure, mystery, romance, and they are liberally peppered with my schizophrenic brand of humor. They are not high literary art, they are pulp escapism, a fun and engaging way to waste an afternoon that will make you think, but not too hard.
Want to know more? Click the link at the top of the page that says My Books.
Please?
I'll buy you a pony.
I can't afford a pony, but I'll be your friend. Your socially awkward write friend. ;)

*Autocorrect note of the day: my phone tried to change Jedis to Jesus, thus confirming that yes, the Force is apparently a religion.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Social(ly Awkward) Media

There are two things you need to know about me:
1. I'm crazy
2. That is a self-diagnosis
The closest I've ever come to a medical professional telling me I'm insane was when my doctor handed me a questionnaire on a clipboard emblazoned with the Paxil logo and a Paxil-branded pen, and concluded that my occasional insomnia made me the perfect candidate for... wait for it...
Paxil!

But I'd be a liar if I said I didn't have a touch of the crazy known as social anxiety. I don't take medication for several reasons, not the least of which is my slight paranoia that all the readily available anti-anxiety meds out there today remind me a little too much of Soma, the happy pills that keep the population blissfully unaware of the social injustices in Brave New World.
For those who know me, either in real life or as the lame joke cracker on the internet, it may come as something of a surprise that I absolutely hate online social interaction. Well, okay, I kind of hate social interactions in general because I'm always second guessing myself. I never know if I'm going to offend, or worse, bore the crap out of someone. Honest, what comes off as a breezy aside has a lot of self-doubt baggage attached. See, a long time ago, this jerkwad* told me that I'm terrible at telling stories. Now, I knew then, as I do now, that the jerkwad was just trying to make me feel bad about their own shortcomings, but I'll be damned if it didn't work.
But for every squeamish moment in real life conversations, there's a dozen more over social media. There is no instant backtracking if your words come out wrong. Sarcasm doesn't translate, and despite what netiquette advice columns have been saying for decades now, that little smiley face at the end of a mean-spirited comment is not a get out of jail free card. This is why it takes me a solid ten minutes of teeth gnashing and thumbnail biting to write such brilliant insights as, 'Looks delicious!'
I cut my social media teeth back in the beginning of web 2.0 with MySpace, and after a brief and torrid affair, I wrote it a nice Dear John letter and left a bad forwarding address. And for four years it worked. I remained blissfully web presence-free.I laughed as everyone flocked to Facebook when MySpace got 'lame.' I was baffled as to how anyone could convey anything of imporance with the 140 character count imposed by Twitter. I watched in horrified fascination as the whole of society collectively lost their minds over a cartoon farming game.
But I knew it wouldn't last. I knew something would drive me back to the terrifying world of over-sharing and virtual farms. And so it happened, innocently at first. I was cajoled into joining Facebook to keep up with my parents, who were displaced by a flood. Family led to friends, which led to more friends and more family and suddenly I'm once again biting my nails and stressing out over whether I'm a jerkwad because I didn't 'like' someone's check-in at the grocery store. Seriously, when did we start requiring our friends approval of our supermarket preferences?
And yet, here I am, a year and a half later, posting these personal fears on a public blog, that I will then link to both my personal and public Facebook pages, which will in turn link to my Twitter. This will also automatically RSS to Goodreads and my lonely Google+, that likes to taunt my lack of friend-finding initiative. Why do I do this?
Because I'm trying to forge a living as a writer and like it or not, I need to explore every avenue of self-promotion, even those that scare me. I may be bad at it, but for some strange reason, posting this and other quasi-confessional admissions on a blog, under my real name, doesn't scare me half as much as congratulating someone on their favorable performance review or telling an over-sharer that I am not comfortable knowing the details of how they busted the elastic in their underwear. I'm not making excuses and someday I will have to get over my crippling fear of hashtags and self-promotion. Understand that just because I didn't 'like' your post about junior's high fever and projectile vomiting, does not make me ambivalent to his suffering. I simply don't want to be known as the jerk who takes delight in a child's suffering.
Seriously, there is no reason for this to be so complicated and I know it. But until I can finally accept that our inevitable robot overlords are not judging my every shortcoming, awkward I'll remain.

*My phone tried to autocorrect jerkwad to useless. You have no idea how effective an argument this is for machine sentience.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Feels: Brains Need Love Too

The Feels will be the first of a reoccurring theme that I'll post from time to time, featuring books, movies, or other stuff that has had a profound emotional impact on me. Why am I calling it The Feels? Because the internet is fond of taking perfectly normal words and slashing them into pidgen-English for the sake of humor and I am known as one of those cool cats who is hip to the jibber-jabber of the cyberwebs. Or something like that.
So without further ado, grab your tissues and read on:
To preface this post, I have never seen Up and I refuse to watch Marley and Me for a very good reason: I was born a woman with a man's sense of machismo. Tearing up at a movie embarrasses the crap out of me, yet I'm hormonally predisposed to doing just that. I remember being so incredibly pms'd when I went to see A League of Thier Own that I was bawling before the previews were over.
Additionally, I'm not the kind of person who reads books or watches movies more than a handful of times before getting bored because I know what happens next. That being said, the following book makes me cry like a baby and I've probably read it at least 10 times.
As I mentioned in my last post, I'm a huge fan of McCaffrey's Brainship series. This has everything to do with the third book in the series, The Ship Who Searched, coauthored by Mercedes Lackey. Yes, technically this is science fiction. In fact, the main character is a ship. But it's also a romance, a mini history lesson, and an unapologetic tear-jerker.
To give some background, the ships in this series, as well as some hospitals, space stations, and cities, are called Brainships for a reason. The central control is actually a human brain. Now, I've tried to explain this premise to people before and received looks of absolute horror, which is understandable. In fact, the premise of this series was recently criticized as an example of science fiction's poor views of the disabled. While I can see the point, the author of that editorial is looking at a twenty year old idea with modern distortion. Also, I seem to have something of my own obsession with mutilating my characters for the sake of expanding their horizons. I'll do my best to explain without making it sound horrific.
In this fictional universe, children who are born with life threatening physical deformities are given a titanium "shell" that functions as both protection and life support. They are sent to school and when they graduate, they are "installed" in ships, or hospitals and other buildings, as the "brain" of the vessel.
This book is a bit different in that the main character, Hypatia Cade, is not born with a deformity. She comes into contact with a virus that causes total paralysis and her doctor pulls some strings to get her into the shell program. All of this happens in the first three chapters of the book and by the time Tia gets here shell, I'm choked up and sniffling.
Seriously, I've read a lot of well written emotional scenes before, but this has to be one of the best. Baen (yes, you'll see that name a lot here as they are my go to for the best traditionally published sci-fi around) has the first seven chapters available to preview online. Go ahead, read the first three and try not to cry, I'll wait...
...See what I mean? Powerful. The rest of the book is just as powerful and complex. As a brainship, Tia is paired with a "brawn", a normal human who performs as, well, the brawn of the ship, doing things that require mobility. Her choice of Alex, who doesn't fit the standard mold because he's somewhat of a classic geek, stems from his passion for archeology, which happens to be Tia's passion as well (she was on an archeological site with her parents when she contracted the virus).
Of course, in following the trope of the impossible relationship, Tia and Alex develop forbidden feelings for each other. There are so many ways this could devolve into awkward or uncomfortable territory, yet it doesn't. The complexities and agony surrounding the pair is done with such painstaking perfection that there are at least three more tear inducing scenes.
I'm not giving away the ending, but I'll just say that the resolution was satisfying without resorting to cheap trickery.
As for the profound impact, this book set a high bar for me. It proves definitively that a moving romance does not require descriptions of physical intimacy. It proves that action is fun, but scenes of introspection or characters just talking can be just as viscerally entertaining. These are just a few of the lessons I am trying to emulate with my own writing. I'm nowhere near that level yet, but I'm working on it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Beyond The Green-skinned Slave Girls

I've never considered my nerd status to be particularly odd. I grew up in the eighties. We really were, sadly, the last generation to witness major space exploration.
But a quick glance at my library shows that, much like the corporate world, science fiction has been the domain of mostly men, and that hasn't changed much in the current century. And while there haven't been as many women writers in the genre, there have been a few who stand out. Below are a few who I hold in high regard:
Andre Norton
Of the names on this list, hers is probably the most recognisable, considering there is now an award named for her. She was born Alice Norton in 1912 and wrote under several masculine pen names, Andre Norton being the most recognized, because... duh, science fiction is for dudes! I'll freely admit that I'd probably read at least 10 of her books before I noticed the words 'her' and 'she' in the about the author pages. Norton's works span all genres of sci-fi, from fantasy to speculative fiction, as well as hard science space epics. I am most familiar with her space epic work. Her official site hasn't been updated in years, but for an introduction to her works, the  Baen Free Library has a couple of books available in many e-reader formats.
Anne McCaffrey
Probably best known for her Dragons of Pern fantasy series, McCaffrey also delved into science fiction from time to time, resulting in one of the most powerfully moving books I have ever read (more on that in my next post, get your tissues ready). I'm talking about the Brainship series. Not the first, but one of the more interesting takes on cybernetics. All but the first book in the series, The Ship Who Sang, were coauthored so finding them by author name alone can be difficult. Sadly, my search for a comprehensive list turned up a number of torrent sites. Please don't get your books from torrent sites, it's just plain tacky and you could get a virus. But once again, Baen comes to the rescue.
Octavia Butler
Oh my goodness, I could spend days preaching the gospel of Butler Worship. The saddest part of this entry is that, were it not for an African-American lit class back in college, I might never have heard of Octavia Butler and that is just criminal. Butler epitomizes the socio-political undertones that play a heavy hand in sci-fi. Race, xenophobia, gender roles, environmental awareness, class, she tackles them all both subtly and blatantly. And she writes some of the most uncomfortable situations I've had the pleasure of reading. There is an art to the way she presents despicable characters that seems to be lacking in today's horror/sci-fi sub-genres. I credit Butler as one of the greatest inspirations for my own choice to write sci-fi because she proved it can be more than just space epics.
Of course, there are a few other women of sci-fi that have inspired me, and there is an ever growing number of women joining the field now that e-books have enabled us. But if I were to list them all, this post would never end, so I'll likely do a followup at some point in the future. After all, I am a science fiction nerd girl. :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

I'm Sure There Is A Word For This

The this in this instance being a great idea birthed too late to be of use. I'm sure it's happened to you. Like when you make a sandwich, which is okay, but not wonderful, and you realize you have this fabulous pepper blend that would jazz it up, except you are now on the last bite.
Happens to me all the time, and as a matter of fact, it just happened to me tonight, while I was eating a sandwich. No, I remembered my peppers, my realization was about the editing process.
Let's get one thing out of the way right now: all writers make idiot mistakes while writing their first drafts. Some of these mistakes are caught in rewrites, some go on to get caught by the editor, and some make it into the final edition. Unfortunately, for self-published authors, who cannot afford an editing service, this whole process is done by rereading the manuscript over and over until our eyes bleed. It's super easy to miss things, which is why my first edition of Eyes was an abysmal batch of word soup.
But tonight I had a head-smack moment when I remembered that my Kindle has a feature, as do most computers today, where it will read the text. Had I thought to sit down with a cup of coffee and a comfortable pair of headphones, I could have saved myself a lot of effort, and perhaps some of my sanity. No, it won't find the wrong use of there, their, and they're, but that is what the find feature is good for. But when it comes to stupid typos that I miss, I'm more likely to use on for in, an for and, or a wrong tense. When reading, our brains fill in these gaps, especially for the author, who knows exactly what they meant. It's harder to ignore a blatant error when it's being read aloud.
I'm sure I'm not the first person to figure this out, but for any other writers out there struggling with the same issue, I hope you find this useful. I'm certainly going to employ this technique for all of my future endeavors.