I Get Mail

Man Reading his Mail
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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*

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
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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

Out is Through

Single
© Twds2 | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Yesterday was spent hip-deep in proofing Afterwar. I’m pretty sure this book is some of my best work, but the emotional cost of its difficult birth has drained me almost to transparency. Not that anyone’s been anything less than enthusiastic, there’s just been a confluence of factors and bad-fucking-luck attending this book-birth. The constellations were probably all out of whack.

Anyway, today should see the last of the proofing, if I can just get underway early enough.

Oh, also–several people asked if I’d written anything about the shift from Patreon to Gumroad after Patreon’s recent shenanigans. I did, and it’s now live on Gumroad’s blog. So enjoy, if that’s your jam.

I have a short run scheduled today, too. Miss B will be happy about that; she is full of fidgets that need working out. Odd Trundles had one of his spinal episodes last night. Bulldogs are so corkscrewed, spinal issues are incredibly common among them. Half a muscle relaxer and a good night’s sleep fixed him right up, but carrying him up and down the stairs to the yard, then coaxing him out into the grass to relieve himself, was an experience. There was nothing else for it, he had to pee and he couldn’t manage the stairs. At least he knows not to wriggle while I’m carrying all sixty-plus pounds of him down a steep incline. Also, it’s been at least a year since his last episode, so that’s a good thing. He hasn’t had a seizure in a good long while either; his life is arranged very comfortably to avoid triggers and excess excitement.

Given that he can get excited over tuna juice, a strange sound, or when his own unwieldy body produces a bit of flatulence, keeping him calm is a little more difficult than you’d think.

Anyway, it’s back to the grindstone so I can get a few more pages proofed before the itch mounts under my skin and I have to run. I love this book, I really do, but by the time proofs hit on any project I’m so, so tired all I want is to get it over with so I can rest a bit. Not to mention I’m sure this book, like Cormorant Run, will garner a bit of baffled hatred which I will do my level best to be oblivious to. I’m dreading quite a few things about 2018, and that’s one of them.

Oh well. The only way out is through, the only cure is to run and to work and to rub behind Odd’s ears. And Miss B’s. And the Mad Tortie’s for good measure, since she wants to be inside and in my business while it’s chilly-damp out.

Which isn’t so bad, you know? Maybe there’s some hope after all.

Over and out.

Into the New Year

Today’s the last day before the Princess and Little Prince go back to work and school, respectively. Which means that whoever rang my doorbell at 8:30 might have needed something, but I was not getting up. Despite Miss B’s insistence that she had to herd whoever rang that bell–properly Pavlovian, my beloved hound.

But no. I did not get up. I rolled back over and stole another twenty minutes of delicious sleep before finally sighing and resurrecting myself after a feverish dream of blood-colored rain that turned to red flowers starring concrete walks, hard-cracking roots digging in with blind persistence. I’m pretty sure the visual aesthetic was from a War of the Worlds movie. I’ve been thinking a lot about the common cold killing invaders of our watery home this season.

What? Oh, no reason. It’s just one of those things I think about. No, no reason at all. Nothing to see here, move along.

Yesterday was full of challah, black-eyed peas, coffee, and ham stock. The first blush of the stock went for cooking the black-eyed peas, and I left the hambone in the crock pot overnight. This morning I am rewarded with a lovely dark stock full of minerals and intense flavor. It will make a fine soup, probably for tomorrow’s dinner. Something nice and hearty for the kids after they come home from their first day back at the grindstone.

Other than that, there’s proof pages to do. I may try to do them in PDF form this time, despite my preference for hardcopy. I feel like I just don’t see enough if it’s not on paper, but we’re under a time crunch and this book has already been the most difficult in my career. So…maybe the PDF has something to recommend it. Maybe I’ll do fifty pages or so and see how it works. Christ knows I just want to get this book off my plate by now, it’s been a few years of sheer hell. I mean, I love all my books, and I think this one is very good, it’s just had a very…difficult…birth. I shouldn’t have been surprised, it was a more complex and terrible (in the old sense) undertaking than I’d ever attempted before, one of those projects that takes one’s craft a quantum leap forward. (Or at least, one hopes.) No growth without the pain of stretching.

At least I only have a short run today, and no shortage of coffee. Since the kids are home, they can deal with cleaning the kitchen. There are occasional advantages to spawning, I will say that much.

Into the New Year we go, then. Over and out.

Good Wallow

So. We survived 2017. Idiots in the neighborhood busted out (now-illegal-within-city-limits) fireworks, so Miss B was huddled near me until we went to bed, where she promptly passed out and only twitched at the booms and bangs. I guess once she’s on The Hoomin’s Bed, nothing can harm her. I do wish she wouldn’t have needed her snout thrust firmly in my hair before she did the said passing-out, though.

’17 was awful. The world is on fire, there seems no way to stop the flames, and I’m tired. I took a good wallow in the last week, playing video games, letting myself eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, only producing 200 words or so a day–just enough to scratch the itch–and just generally rolling around in a pile of “waaaaaaaaaaah”.

I know time is subjective, I know today is technically just the same as yesterday and the change in year only has power because we all agree on it. The Witch’s Year started on Samhain, and one of the things I enjoy is the lying-fallow period from the winter solstice to the other New Year. Often I try to scramble, to get work done during that time, but I’m forced to accept that I need, well, not to.

It doesn’t help that salaried publishing people tend to clear their desks right before major holidays, which means work lands on freelancers–including the writers producing the content the salaried people are selling. Just one more way the industry is kind of benighted; eventually our culture will appreciate the creatives it’s built on and needs so desperately.

And while I’m dreaming, I’d also love a war unicorn to gore my enemies.

ANYWAY. We made it. I’m here, you’re here too, and there’s exciting stuff coming down the pike. Check out my new Subscriptions page–if you’re in the mood for a monthly or weekly hit of fiction, or access to the ongoing Roadtrip Z serial, or if you just want to throw a little in the tip jar, there are plenty of options.

After my run, while the laundry is chugging away and Miss B is exhausted into happiness again, I’ll be cleaning off my desk a bit at a time and redoing my master to-do list. It’s nice to see what I crossed off over the past month. The lying-fallow period has one great advantage: when it ends, I am more than ready to get back to work.

*puts on helmet, and goggles* Let us go forth together, my dear Readers, and kick some ass.

photo by: Miia Ranta