Boxes

boxes

A garden is time accumulation. You work a little, then wait; work a little more, then wait. Wait some more. Then work, and wait. It’s like publishing, except with publishing you can work while you wait, and in a garden you can’t make stuff grow faster and there’s only so much weeding that can be accomplished before diminishing returns sets in.

So, right now these boxes are just in the prep stage, a cover crop of field peas and oats in them. That will grow all summer and be mulched in when it dies back in winter. Next year maybe I’ll do the monster daikon, then it will be time to plant my rue, my mugwort, and other useful things.

For right now, though…we wait.

Joe and Norbert

Rollin It’s probably time to move Fred & George’s little house to a safer location, ever since the Great Mystery Hunt. (I’ll tell you guys about that when the weather improves.) They might even have to share it with a horseradish, which will no doubt lead to many hijinks. As it is, Emphysema Joe is hiding behind the new spring growth of lavender, and is happy to remain so. I had a long conversation with him the other day while I was planting radishes–he wanted to be caught up on all the latest gossip, being a little bit of a hermit. I think only George visits him, and they only talk about green things and video games. “HE’S A SQUIRREL,” Zombie Joe says, quietly, puffing to light his pipe to his satisfacction. “THERE’S NOT A LOT OF PHILOSOPHY THERE.”

“Not a lot of philosophy in me either, buddy.” I was too busy scraping out a row with almost-raw fingers. The earth is a little chilly in spring, and my fingernails were already full of dirt.

“YOU’RE PLANTING RADISHES.”

“And carrots. And fennel.” I yanked a few more weeds. They get going early in spring.

“THERE YOU GO.”

“There I what?”

“RADISHES ARE PHILOSOPHICAL.”

“How so?” I seeded the row very carefully. Radish seeds are tiny little motherfuckers.

“A FIERY VEGETABLE GROWN UNDERGROUND. DON’T TELL ME IT’S NOT.” He puffed on his pipe, quite pleased. It smells halfway between skunk and lavender when he really gets going in that corner.

“Uh, okay.”

“SO HOW’S MIRANDA DOING?” He sounded very casual. If I didn’t know the entire backyard was in love with her, I might almost suspect he was disinterested.

“Fine. Urging the crocuses to store up against next winter, and trying to coax some of that sorrel up. She says summer’s going to be interesting.”

That perked him up. “INTERESTING HOW?”

“Just interesting. You know how she is.”

“MUST BE A DRAG, BEING AN ORACLE.”

“Sometimes that gleam in her eye makes me suspect she likes it.”

“THAT’S PHILOSOPHICAL TOO. SEE? YOU’RE HALFWAY TO AN ORACLE YOURSELF.”

“I’m a writer, dear. That’s different.”

“I’LL TAKE YOUR WORD FOR IT. WANT A TOKE?”

“No thanks.”

Norbert piped up from his vantage point. “WHY CAN’T YOU SMOKE THAT STUFF WHEN THE BIRDS COME? THAT WOULD SCARE THEM AWAY.”

Emphysema Joe shrugged. “OR MAKE THEM REALLY, REALLY HUNGRY. YOU WANT THAT?”

“Don’t fight, you two.” I patted some fine soil down. “At least, not where I can hear you.”

“HE’S RIGHT,” Norbert sniffed. “YOU’RE A PHILOSOPHER. A PRAGMATIST, TO BE PRECISE.”

“Must come with motherhood.” I rolled my eyes and began scraping a row for carrot seeds, too. Between the two of them, it’s a wonder I get any work done at all.

The favs are coming up nicely, and Miranda’s whispering to the crocuses seems to have paid off. I wish she’d talk to the dogwood and find out what’s ailing it, but she’s less interested in things that are taller than she is. Maybe I’ll ask her next time. Of course, I’ll probably walk out there and get waylaid by something else…

PS: *whispers* You can buy the Rose & Thunder ebook directly from the site now.

Technically, Rest

Storm coming in Panama City Beach, FL Yesterday afternoon, after a day of my sinuses jabbing me with rusty spikes all day, we got the promised storm. It culminated in a flash of lightning right overhead and a big boom immediately afterward. The storm passed pretty directly over the house, and it even made Trundles take sleepy notice. Miss B, of course, was cowering under my desk when the first rattle-booms began in the distance. I turned my desktop off, and we all congregated in the living room to watch the hail come down sideways–even B, who will brave thunder for my sake, but is never happy about it.

So that was all our excitement yesterday. It was quite enough for me. Afterwards, the dogs refused to go out into the backyard unattended, and Trundles clearly expected me to carry him over the cold, cold hail strewn on the ground. His poor delicate paws, you see. I just laughed at him, and he gave me a filthy look before trotting off to bedew a hosta or two.

Still haven’t heard back from the Inktera/PageFoundry people. I’ve pulled my self-pubbed books from the PageFoundry distribution channel–not like any of them ever sold through there, and Smashwords made it very clear none of the books were going into the Clean Reader app, but it’s the principle of the thing. PageFoundry got their fingers singed, and I guess they won’t be answering any questions from plebes like me who make the books they want to profit from. I’m still curious, but my curiosity is now tinged with disdain and no little suspicion.

It’s time for me to head out for a very short, very easy run. Technically today is a rest day, but I’ve got that feeling of crackling discomfort, and I need a clear head before diving back into gutting and reworking Blood Call. The editor is right about several things in the book; I just have to figure out what surgery will fix them…

photo by: Karsun Designs

Fidgets

psychoanalysed It’s one of those days when irritation boils just below the skin. I can’t wait for a run to shake the fidgets out, to get rid of the unpleasant prickles. B can’t wait either, she keeps nosing at me. “NAO? NAO? WE RUN NAO?” Even loading her in the car to drop the Prince off at school didn’t ease her; she still thinks that if she doesn’t keep physical contact with me I might escape and run without her.

No further answer from the Inktera people. I’m not really surprised–it’s not like they’re going to care very much what I think, or attach much importance to answering me. Still, I’m curious, and this is a significant black mark on PageFoundry’s record as far as I’m concerned. Authors don’t forget something like that.

If you’ve noticed a bit of dust and banging about here lately, it’s because the marvelous Skyla has been hard at work redesigning the site. I think it’s coming along swimmingly.

The kids and I fell into Cookie Clicker over the weekend and could barely escape. Now the Prince has me trying out Clash of Clans. It’s fun to see this stuff he’s been talking about for a while now, and he is utterly thrilled that Mum is showing more interest. “YOU’RE playing Clash? YAY let me tell you everything and make a clan JUST FOR US TWO!” Heh.

Other than that, there’s revisions going on. I’m gutting and rewriting significant bits of Blood Call, and there’s another pass to take on Agent Zero. Which means I’d better get out the door, so I can come back, make a pot of tea, and start my timer for twenty-minute chunks for the rest of the day.

*stretches*

All right, let’s kick Tuesday right in the pants.

Weekend Persistence

Wild dog licking his chops A nice sunny weekend, and now I need a day to recover from everything I did on my days “off.” I did manage my One New Recipe Of The Week, Thug Kitchen‘s spiced chickpea wraps with tahini dressing. It’s the first time I’ve ever worked with tahini, despite loving hummus with a fiery and abiding love, and they were more flatbread-plus than actual wraps. The Princess found them acceptable and would ask for them again; the Prince prefers mac-and-cheese, of course. The box kind, not homemade. *eyeroll*

Also this weekend: the Princess, at seventeen, got her ears pierced. She finally wanted to do it, and we discussed getting it done by an actual licensed piercer rather than at the mall. I checked out the local tattoo/piercing shop–it’s been open for three years, so I felt comfortable enough that it wasn’t a fly-by-night operation, and the piercer (clean, friendly, and calm) answered all my questions cheerfully and thoroughly when I dropped in unannounced. When I came back with the Princess she greeted us both warmly and went over aftercare and the procedure with the Princess, making sure she was comfortable. All in all, a good experience. I recommend body piercers over the mall stores anyway; it’s just better.

This weekend also featured the Inktera Twitter feed–Inktera is one of the companies involved in the recent Clean Reader app kerfuffle. So the Inktera “bookstore” was pulled from the Clean Reader app, but PageFoundry (which seems to be the same company as Inktera?) is still offering Clean Reader. There’s also the confusion over what PageFoundry and Inktera actually do, what their connection is. I have some questions–and so does Andrea Phillips. I’ve Storified our interaction with whoever was running their Twitter feed this weekend. It’s a little…bizarre. I think at one point they were trying to sell me their services or insult me, but I’m not sure which.

Here’s the first set of questions I have for them:

1. The Twitter person seems to imply Inktera and PageFoundry are the same company, or will soon become the same company. Is this the case?
2. Did Inktera code the CleanReader app, or just provide the database of books to be “cleaned”?
3. Is CleanReader still for sale in the Apple app store, Google Play, or any other platform? If so, is it a new version not covered by the former announcement that the app has been discontinued?
4. How did Inktera not understand writers would protest such a treatment of their work?
5. What policies or procedures, if any, have been put in place to make sure similar apps aren’t introduced by Inktera/PageFoundry/whoever in the future?
6. Who at Inktera or PageFoundry is equipped to answer these questions, if you are not?

I know it seems like I’m beating this horse to death. Unfortunately, I’m genuinely curious–who at this company thought this app was a good idea, who still does, what precisely does Inktera DO, is Inktera the future version of PageFoundry? Is the app still around, despite the kerfuffle and the assurances that it’s been taken down? If it is still available, has it essentially changed so it isn’t Bowdlerizing people’s work without their consent? I checked the Apple store through my iTunes this morning, and found Clean Reader still available, with the developer listed as PageFoundry Inc and “in-app purchases” listed as “ebooks.” It’s still available through Google Play, too. It seems to be that one can import books through it, and the only change has been the PageFoundry database isn’t offering in-app purchases of people’s work for Bowdlerizing? Is that indeed the case?

See? So many questions. When I get curious, I get extremely persistent. Furthermore, when I can’t tell if I’m being insulted or sold to, I get irritated, which makes me even more persistent. It’s like an endless cycle of “how to make Lili very, very curious indeed.”

Now I’d like to fully understand what happened, who coded this, who at this company (or companies?) thought it was a good idea, what they’re going to do with similar apps in the future, and why they’re still offering the app. Of course they could refuse to answer, or cite internal privacy or something-whatever. Frankly, I’m expecting to be blown off again, and am considering taking my Smashwords books out of PageFoundry even though the Smashwords CEO made the decision that none of its books would go through the app in particular. (See the March 25 update.)

ETA: I have received what I can only call a partial answer from Inktera. Let’s take it from the top…

On Mar 29, 2015, at 3:32 PM, Inktera wrote:

Hello!
This was passed to us via Twitter.
How can we help you today?

Lilith Saintcrow wrote:
Lilith Saintcrow ‏@lilithsaintcrow
@Inktera Someone with the ability to answer these questions can email me at contact AT lilithsaintcrow DOT com. @andrhia

So my initial feeling, that whoever was manning the Twitter stream just wanted to unload me onto Support, seems somewhat justified. Here were my initial questions:

On Mon, 30 Mar at 8:18 AM , Lilith Saintcrow wrote:
Dear Sir/Madam,

I am one of the authors who vigorously protested the CleanReader app. I have further questions, and whoever is handling the Twitter account does not seem empowered or disposed to answer them. My questions include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. The Twitter person seems to imply Inktera and PageFoundry are the same company, or will soon become the same company. Is this the case?
2. Did Inktera code the CleanReader app, or just provide the database of books to be “cleaned”?
3. Is CleanReader still for sale in the Apple app store, Google Play, or any other platform? If so, is it a new version not covered by the former announcement that the app has been discontinued?
4. How did Inktera not understand writers would protest such a treatment of their work?
5. What policies or procedures, if any, have been put in place to make sure similar apps aren’t introduced by Inktera/PageFoundry/whoever in the future?
6. Who at Inktera or PageFoundry is equipped to answer these questions, if you are not?

Whatever answer I receive will be posted publicly. I am quite curious about this, and whoever is running your social media feeds seems unable or unwilling to answer what I think are quite reasonable questions about the provenance and the future of CleanReader-type apps. I have other questions, but this list will do for a start.

Thank you for your time, and I do hope to hear from you soon.

Best,

Lilith Saintcrow

Here is the reply I’ve received so far, sent at 8:55am, March 30, 2015:

Lilith:

Thank you for taking the time to send us your questions and concerns.

You have contacted the support queue that manages questions and help-requests from customers, and also general routing of other inquiries that might come in for any number of reasons.

The most common question we get is “How do i delete a book, after I’m finished reading it?”, if this gives you some context for what we typically handle. On principal, care so much about serving you that we would treat you the same if you were asking for a good chicken soup recipe! :) (you might be surprised if you knew how diverse our customers are!)

For some of the questions you have sent through, I can answer them directly, because we have the training and knowledge to do so.
For some, I can get back to you shortly, as the answer may require some research on my side to make sure I get everything right.
And then for others, the scope of the question is outside the parameters of what a customer-service queue can handle. In these cases, I can route your concerns to other individuals or departments.

I also want to make sure I’m responding to you as quickly as possible, as we have internal SLA’s we like to hit when first responding to requests for help.
In the time that it has taken me to type thus far, I see 11 other support requests which have not yet been serviced, too!

So I hope you will accept our fastest-possible “first cut” of those questions that have ready-made answers.
It might take a full day for me to respond to the rest. OK??

Q: Are Inktera and Page Foundry the same company?
A: The company “Page Foundry” created the brand “Inktera” to represent the bookstore product that customers would buy. For example, Amazon and Kindle have a similar relationship, though many people use the terms interchangeably. Page Foundry and Inktera will soon become “Inktera” alone, which will be simpler.

Q: Is the Clean Reader app still available for download?
A: I just checked, and it is available both in the Apple and Google app stores.

More to come very soon, my friend!
We are here to serve you, whether you are an author, publisher, reader or all of the above!

Okay. So PageFoundry and Inktera ARE the same company. PageFoundry is still offering the app through Google and Apple. The change is that they have removed Inktera’s “buy now” capability and database; now the reader must import the books in, as far as I understand, PDF form. The major objection to the app was that they were selling the books to be Bowdlerized, now the app is free and one must import one’s own books. Which makes it somewhat distasteful, but still just on the edge of legality as far as my understanding goes.

I shall update here when/if I receive more.

ALSO ETA: It seems whoever’s in charge of Clean Reader’s Facebook app got into a snit and disclosed private financial information about one of their critics. They have since apologized. I have to say, between this and the numerous grammatical and spelling errors in the app’s feed, that I am not at all sanguine about them arrogating the privilege of word choice…

photo by:

The Gap

Magnets

These are tiny, super-strong magnets, Buckyballs, the type one is cautioned not to swallow. The ex, who somewhat fancied himself Fuller’s unrecognized heir, bought them. Now that the kids are in their teens and understand what they can do inside one’s body, they’re relatively safe; they mostly live on the fridge. The Little Prince in particular loves them; he associates them with the good parts of having his father around.

So much (personal, family) history in this one photo. Especially in the gap.