Release Day: BEAST OF WONDER

That’s right–the novella that’s been eating my head for a while is now out in the world!

A blonde stewardess, her hairspray-teased head cocked at an impossible, lolling angle, smiled with blood-threaded teeth as a pilot’s disembodied voice floated through an aluminum tube. Ladies and gentlemen…ladies and gentlemen…

Outside small thick windows, hungry grey air screamed. Light and dark revolved, crunch-thumping as carryons, magazines, purses, and other daily objects became missiles tumbling through space, flickering through eyelid-flutter strobes. Right and left changed places, and a woman in the red skirt and brown coat held her seat arms with white knuckles, staring at the stewardess in the jumpseat. Trim, uniformed arms and legs flopped like a doll’s; the blond stewardess gazed with wide, horrified, glazed blue eyes and that crimson-laced, jolly rictus.

One last terrific jolt raced through a winged tube that had been meant to carry three hundred people to Cincinnati. Then the windows cracked, and the roaring swallowed every soul on board.

It was over.

But that was just the beginning.

Note: This is a novella, approximately 20K words.

Now available direct, through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or your favorite ebook platform.

I Get Mail

Man Reading his Mail
© | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Yeah, I get mail.

Yesterday I sent out my monthly newsletter; this particular edition was titled Not Spring Yet. Since I’ve received quite a few emails asking if Steelflower at Sea will be released in ebook, I decided to answer the question directly. Here’s what I said:

I’m also getting a lot of questions about more Strange Angels books–which there are no plans for–and about an ebook edition of Steelflower 2. There is a third Steelflower book in my production schedule this year, and hopefully I’ll be able to work on it between other projects. I would at least like to get through the Highlands War; after that, I think I can let the further tale of Kaia and D’ri’s eventual journey back to G’maihallan remain unwritten.

A lot will depend on if Steelflower 2 & 3 sell in paper, frankly. But I love Kaia, and eventually, the Highlands War will have its tale told.

In addition, I captioned a pic of the Steelflower at Sea cover with this:

A lot of you have asked me about an ebook edition of Steelflower at Sea.

There will NOT be one for the foreseeable future.

Apparently, the newsletter reached someone with…well, I’m not gonna say a guilty conscience, but it’s interesting.

from: *redacted*
to: Lilith Saintcrow
date: 15 January 2018 at 21:19
subject: Re: Not Spring Yet

I have cancelled my subscription, because your actions imply all the ebook owners; and yes that means the people who have bought your books; out there are crooks. I wanted to catch you up on the internet news. In the past 18 months, all of the major pirate sites have been shut down, all the equipment impounded, and charges brought to the operators. So, your exposure to pirating is virtually nil now. In addition, all the largest internet providers police their customers, and act on the reports of copyright holders who tell them any website dealing with illegal materials, and anyone who has been involved in downloading copyright materials is dealt with. I suggest you have whoever handles your business operations check out what I said above thoroughly. And lastly, it only takes five minutes with Google search to find the sites who have your books. Just search by your name, and or book title, and all the little shit’s web pages pop up. Then report them. This is much easier than mistreating your fans, and is as easy as locking your door at night. Good luck with the paperback sales, but don’t be disappointed if they are dismal. God Bless.

Well. *sips tea* I could tell this person that there is an antipiracy service that does Google searches and reporting, and there are literally HUNDREDS of sites out there breeding with a facility rabbits might envy, and that if I spent my time reporting all of them I’d have none left over to write, feed myself, shower, or sleep, but why bother? Facts, I suspect, will be of little use here when someone’s convenience has been momentarily impinged upon.

I’m sure opting out of my totally free and voluntary newsletter was satisfying in the extreme to this person. I am also left with the nagging notion that perhaps, just perhaps, this person has torrented a few of my works, and is upset because one of my *counts on fingers* MANY series will not be released in e-format for…oh, reasons completely unrelated to entitlement and the ability to easily steal said e-formats. Completely. *nods sagely* Yes, definitely.

Yeah. I get mail.

*sigh*

The Hundred Days

Last night I finished The Hundred Days: Napoleon’s Last Campaign from eye-witness accounts. It was, of course, weighted heavily towards the British and German; if you want the Hundred Days told from the French point of view you should look elsewhere. That said, Brett-James picked a good cross-section, and let them speak for themselves.

I realized near the end that I was putting off finishing the book, because I didn’t want to hear a nasty version of Napoleon’s surrender. I mean, the man was a friction’ misogynist–his Code is laughably woman-hating in parts–and yet I can’t help but admire his military record and his sheer bloody-mindedness. If he hadn’t invaded Russia like an idiot…well, but he did. In retrospect, “invading Russia” is probably Fate’s way of disposing of European autocrats who can’t be taken down by any other means.

However, I needn’t have worried, because that particular historical bit was handled very deftly. The British were not gracious in victory. (I mean, I can hardly blame them, but still.) And it says something for the Corsican that they feared him so much–and France loved his success so well–that they immured him on that awful island.

The other thing that struck me was the descriptions of the carnage at Waterloo. I suppose the horrors of modern warfare have numbed me, for I felt saddest for the horses. Nevertheless, war is a colossal fucking waste. The amount of care and energy that goes into creating a single human, or a single horse, gone in a flash or with protracted suffering. I am left with Sarah Connor’s “all you create is death, and destruction” speech in Terminator 2–the one her son chided her for, which makes me angry every time I watch it.

I’m currently interspersing Marcel Schwob short stories with Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, and enjoying the latter the most. Tanith Lee did everything Schwob did, only better.

But that’s (say it with me) another blog post.

Caffeine

A certain Good Angel gifted me a tiny spare espresso machine, since my beloved Breville monster is down for the count. It’s been nice to pour a couple shots in the morning, and another few in the afternoon. French press just isn’t the same.

It’s an old Starbucks machine, and not for the faint of heart. I’ve already given him a name, and hopefully we’re at the beginning of a bee-you-ti-ful relationship.

Recovery

It’s January, and I’m seeing crocuses raise their tiny green heads. I want to tell them it’s too soon, that they’re really risking it, that late February is better, but what do I know? They’ve decided it’s time, and I can only wait and watch.

I suppose I should get the garden in shape. Winter’s been rough on us all.

I’m still slowly recovering. Beast of Wonder is revising, bit by bit. It’s a strange little novella. It wanted to be told, and I have faithfully done so, and now in revision it wants more care and crafting than a full-on book. Perhaps that’s because it’s shorter, and each word has to tell. I’m pretty sure nobody will precisely like it, but I’m going to find a cover and put it out there anyway. Not-liking does not mean lacking-in-worth.

I am continually brought up short by recovery taking far longer than I think it should. Even when I give myself what I think is a perfectly reasonable span of time for healing, it never seems to be enough. It takes as long as it takes–or perhaps I’ve simply grown more unwilling to harm myself by pushing, and have reached a point in my career where I can afford, however imperfectly, to allow myself time to develop scar tissue.

Anyway, a piece of extremely good news landed today, so there’s that. It’s raining, which means if I take B on a run there will be fewer other dogs for her to desperately wish acquaintance with, and consequently fewer chances for her excitement to lay me flat on the pavement. There were even English muffins for breakfast, courtesy of the Princess, which means I will probably eat nothing else today.

Speaking of the Princess, she’s listening to the audiobook of Fire & Fury. Our dinner conversations have consequently grown a little…exotic. The Little Prince’s eyes are the size of saucers as she details some of the bad behavior described in the book. The whole thing is bloody amazing, and not in a good way.

Anyway, all is reasonably quiet here. Not very quiet, for Odd Trundles, exhausted by brekkie and unloading, has staggered to his fancy dog bed and is snoring loudly enough to vibrate my desk. B, of course, realizes I’m in my running togs and will not risk being left behind, which means every time I shift in my chair she perks up, ready for us to hit the pavement.

I am hoping today will continue to be reasonable. Over and out.

A Dead Book

Roaring lioness
© | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Mist hangs between the trees today. Our morning run will no doubt turn Miss B into a crinkle-puffy floof–her fur acquires zigzags when wet. Today’s run will be very gentle, very easy, recovery instead of pushing. It will frustrate us both, but pushing myself today will only lead to an injury, I can just tell.

I had to make a very difficult decision this past weekend. A book is dead in the water, with no hope of revival. Part of the murder was a series of unfortunate events at the publisher, a perfect storm I’ve never encountered in my professional life and will likely never encounter again. Nobody was a douche, nobody was ultimately responsible, it was just a collection of bad luck. The bad luck was fatal to the book, and admitting as much to myself and others was…difficult, to say the least.

But that’s why I have a writing partner, and friends, and an agent–so that when a series of complete disasters hits a book, I have outside measures by which to measure the scale of the disaster and my response. Often, my response is emotionally disproportionate, and the triad of objective feedback sources tells me so in no uncertain terms so I don’t go off the rails. (Or, at least, I don’t go very far off the rails.) This time, while my decision is not precisely optimal–I could phone in a spiritual corpse of a book, I suppose, if forced to; I could cause myself lasting damage by beating this dead book, if I forced myself to–it’s the only one I can take, and the triad agrees. While I am the kind of writer who will rip out her own entrails in bloody handfuls for a book because that’s the way it has to be, I am not the kind of writer capable of just phoning it in.

And tearing out my own entrails is only acceptable if there’s a recovery path afterward. Mixed metaphor, I know, but accounting for the emotional toll a book takes on you is good self-care.

It’s never easy when a book dies. I’ve had two die on me, and one was only resuscitated after years of patient care and a few unpopular decisions. This one…will not be resuscitated. I just can’t. Maybe I’m too old to keep throwing effort down a well, maybe I’m too tired and the world is too aflame for me to perform a necromancer’s trick when I could be writing other stories.

Either way, I have mourned, and now I’m moving on.

‘Nuff said.

From the Mailbag

I’m getting plenty of mail from my Gumroad post. This missive, in particular, asked a very good question, so I thought I would post it (redacted for privacy) and my answer.

Hi Lili!

Thank you for writing the article on The Gumroad Blog – “A patronage model with Gumroad.” (Link)

I’m a musician with a Patreon, and along with you I’m angry about the unannounced fee structure change they made – they lost my trust.

Your article explains with great detail how Gumroad can be a great Patreon alternative. Thank you for peeling back the curtain and showing us how you’ve set things up!

One question I have is not about Gumroad per se, but the PayPal subscriptions. When you have a $1 subscription, are you paying the 2.9% + .30 fee, leaving you with $0.66? I ask because the vast majority of my Patrons are $1 pledgers. Pinching pennies, yes, but it adds up!

If you could take the the time to answer this I’d appreciate it! I plan to follow your lead and give Gumroad a try!

With gratitude,

**redacted name**

Here’s my reply:

Dear **redacted**,

I believe I do pay the 2.9% and $.30 fee on dollar PayPal donation subscriptions. I don’t care about this as much as I do about Patreon’s fees, for two reasons: one, PayPal has always been up-front about said fees, and two, PayPal doesn’t add a second fee to the patron/customer the way Patreon was planning to do. I bear the cost, which I believe is only natural and proper. I offer the PayPal $1 subscriptions along with $3 and $5, and since PayPal lets them set up recurring monthly payments or choose to make a lump-sum donation, it’s super convenient for patrons in a way Patreon never has been.

Gumroad has a $.99 minimum, which may be a little more cost effective if you have enough subscribers to carry the monthly $10 premium fee; if you don’t, the free Gumroad option will take a similar chunk of the payment from you but still not charge the customer/patron more. I do have occasional Ko-Fi patrons, but I tend to steer new patrons who just want to show support with a couple bucks per month to PayPal, for their ease and for the consumer trust PayPal has built up. I seem to recall that at the time this all went down Ko-Fi didn’t have a recurring payments option but were looking at adding it in the near future.

I think if you already have a patron base, a mix of PayPal and Gumroad might serve the ones who want to move away from Patreon better—certainly that’s the route I chose, as you can tell! I know there are creators who have set up workflows to send perks to their PayPal patrons, but I chose not to, because I need my time for writing and Gumroad is way more flexible and time-saving when it comes to sending out perks. The limit to upload files for your Gumroad membership customers is 16gb, which is comfortable for musicians, I think. (Subscribers get updates through email, and I’m not sure what the file limits are there.)

So yes, PayPal does take a chunk of each dollar donation, but I’m fine bearing that cost because there’s more trust and they do NOT charge my patron for the transaction, which was the exact thing I was furious with Patreon for even considering. I do not advocate burning your Patreon to the ground—there are still several of my clients who prefer to stay with “the devil they know”, as is their right. As long as I have a single patron there, I’ll stay on the platform, but I’m open with them about why I think Gumroad’s a better option for both of us, and those who have made the switch seem to agree. If my patrons move on wholly to other platforms, I’ll feel just fine about deleting my Patreon, but as long as they want to use that service, I’ll keep content there for them.

I hope this helps. Thank you for your feedback!

I am extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from my darling Readers. If anything good has come of Patreon’s ham-fisted attempt, it’s that I’ve been shown in concrete ways just how much my beloved Readers care. (I mean, aside from buying my books, which is awesome in and of itself.) The internet has been a giant blessing and curse for creators, but most of the time the former overwhelms the latter for me.

Thanks, guys.

photo by: Moyan_Brenn