No Avengers For Me

growupThat’s it. That is absolutely, positively it.

This blows. Instead of wading into the “red ledger” of a complicated person who did seriously heinous acts and is trying desperately to buy redemption with good deeds, we get the character who feels ruined by her barren womb. And even worse, the movie tries to fix it by infantilizing another character into her big baby. (i09)

I’m done. This sucks, because I loved the X-Men with the fierce love of a thousand suns when I discovered them lo those two-decades-plus ago. It also sucks because some parts of Marvel movies are fun, and it’s possible for film directors and Marvel to do these things right.

Instead, we get nineteen overwhelmingly sausage-fest movies, no movie starring a female superhero in sight, the old double standard (Stark or Star Lord can be playboys and it’s fun and funny, but any woman who MIGHT sleep with someone is a whore!) married to rape jokes both onscreen and off, and women reduced to receptacles once again.

And, cherry on this shit pie, people label Whedon a feminist.

Fuck this noise. I’m done.

On Tone

An argument... Mary Robinette Kowal has an excellent piece up on manners, manner, and tone policing.

The thing is… the reason that I can be “polite” and “reasonable” is because other people are expressing the anger for me. I have the privilege of being quiet only because other people are bearing the burden of our shared fury. Without the people willing to shout, the concerns would be dismissed. Look at the suffragette movement. Women had been talking about equality for hundreds of years before that, and it wasn’t until the early 1900s when women began breaking windows and chaining themselves to buildings in protest that the cause was taken seriously. Then the “reasonable” women were able to negotiate, because their sisters had borne the burden of shouting to create a space in which their words could be heard. (Mary Robinette Kowal)

It made me think. (Always a dangerous proposition, that.) I grew up with rageaholics, the sonic assault leading to or accompanied by physical abuse. I have the distaste for such displays one would expect, and I almost never use the word “anger” to describe what I’m feeling. Irritation, certainly. Vexation in some cases, pique in others. I have only been outright angry three times in my life so far, and each time my response has been to get very exceedingly quiet and start steadily moving to escape whatever situation has provoked the response. Sometimes I fall prey to hyperbole and use the word “furious,” when I’m only vexed.

Certainly I get frustrated–the kids know that when I skin my knuckles on Ikea furniture and snap, “Why can’t ANYTHING ever be EASY?” that it’s probably best to leave me alone with the offending article until I begin to feel ridiculous and start to laugh at myself. Willful stupidity and bad behaviour frustrates me as well. But anger, true anger, is reserved for other situations. Above all, I do not want to rage, because I associate rage with being the target.

There’s a certain strategic component, too. I prefer politeness and quiet requests as a matter of course. If I make the decision to escalate from there, it has far more impact if I’ve been mannerly beforehand, and I’m generally able to use much less energy/escalation to get what I need.

All that being said, I agree with Ms Kowal. I have the luxury of being icily quiet when I get truly angry; I have the luxury of using politeness as a base to start from. My own campaigns to right social ills are more of the listening-and-connective sort, since I inhabit a relatively privileged position. All the same, when one’s polite requests for an oppressive group or society to cease systematic brutality are brushed aside, naturally one’s patience will be eroded. I have the space to be quiet and polite and to be seen as fairly moderate because other people do not have that luxury and have been forced to yelling to make themselves heard. I should think, if I were in a different position, I’d yell too.

Motherhood has taught me that when you hear a scream of pain you need to ascertain what the hell’s going on very quickly, and take measures not just to relieve the immediate distress but also understand the deeper causes. I can distinguish fairly easily between a screaming tantrum (sports riots) and an explosion of justifiable anger when all other avenues for a group of people have been blocked (Ferguson and Baltimore protests). Adults throwing tantrums I have little patience for–my kids grew out of that shit years ago, and if you didn’t, now’s the time to start. Explosions of justifiable anger call for a different response.

I have a responsibility, as a reasonable (and reasonably privileged) human being, to look at deeper causes and understand them, so I can be at least a small part of the solution, not part of the whole stupid-ass problem in the first place. Saying, “Well, they shouldn’t YELL” is not helpful. Understanding why the yelling is taking place is.

Enough said.

Social Motherhood

Alice Glass, Crystal Castles This morning the Little Prince was telling me about a show he watched at school. Something that particularly interested him was the amount of sugar in foods, and how cereal companies (among others) lobbied to raise the “acceptable” percentage of sugar in certain foods. So over breakfast we talked about corporations, food deserts, and how we’re very lucky to be able to afford the hidden costs of eating well–the ability/income to shop in bulk, the petrol and time to drive to the grocer’s, the time/energy to prepare homemade food, which is largely a function of making enough money. Above all, I impressed upon him that we’re lucky–it is not at all usual for a single mother, especially one working freelance, to have the time and energy necessary for some of these things. I told him about how minimum wage isn’t enough to live on, and highly processed foods are “cheap” in food deserts, and how profits are squeezed from people who can least afford such squeezing.

He asked very cogent questions, and made a number of very astute observations about the whole thing. I’m not sure it’ll sink in very deeply, but at least the seed has been planted. He had questions about “obesity” and the term “epidemic” as well.

Motherhood: the constant scramble of trying to find a way to help a child understand things most adults don’t even understand, or have only the foggiest notions of, or just plain don’t want to think about. It requires more self-education than I could ever perform, even studying round the clock, but I try because I don’t want to give them inaccurate information. It also requires encouraging them to go look for themselves, to take the information I have and go further, dig deeper, and find out what they think. No doubt this makes them the type of student who will question teachers.

I honestly don’t see an alternative.

Which raises another specter: we have the funds, the time, the hardware (which isn’t free) to research, the leisure time to think about these things. It takes energy to look at this stuff, energy we can spare because of our relatively privileged socioeconomic position. I am frequently reminding the kids that had things been a little different, I would be working two or even three jobs, and I wouldn’t have the time or energy left over to do other things they enjoy, since all my resources would be directed at survival. Working damn hard is only part of the equation, and it doesn’t guarantee a living wage anymore. (If it ever did.) Luck, especially the luck of being born lower middle class and in a particular skin color, plays a huge part.

This is why the oligarchical refrain of “the poor/brown/whatever people are LAZY” bothers me so much. The entire deck is stacked against many people, they’re living in a society where racism and classism is endemic, they’re playing the video game of life on the most hardcore setting, and some motherfuckers have the temerity to call them “lazy” because the scramble for survival means they prioritize differently and are forced to make decisions the rich or the “right” skin color never have to even consider. Poverty and trauma don’t ennoble, they kill, they grind people down, and they steal so much from not just the poor but from everyone. Who can tell what art, what books, what science we’re missing out on because the people who could have created them are mired in poverty, institutional racism, bigotry?

And all the while, corporate welfare marches on, and billions are poured into new and inventive ways to kill and terrorise people instead of education.

It’s enough to make one sick, indeed. I try to make sense of it so I can explain things to the children without breaking down into a spluttering heap of indignant fury, but sometimes there’s no sense to be had, and I have to admit as much to them. “I don’t know” and “I don’t understand it either” are terrifying words to have to say when your child turns to you to make sense of things.

photo by: chriszak

Data Gathering: Douchemobiles

run away I fell into revising Agent Trinity yesterday with a vengeance. It’s a relief when the engines click over and I slide wholly back into a story, all my resources focused on the task in front of me. Of course, this usually means little things like feeding children and animals but forgetting to feed myself, but who cares? It’s story time! At least I got a shower in.

Small mercies, right?

The clouds are back today, and the relief is near indescribable. Sunshine just drives everyone mad around here. They start piloting their cars as if they’re in a video game, and do other strange things. It’s as if some fungal thing settled in their brain-creases is being slowly destroyed by the heat and glare, and the concomitant destruction of gray matter makes them into jerky marionettes.

Now there’s a story idea.

However, the sudden return of sanity has not extended to some specific groups. Case in point? There’s a sign at the middle school: “RIGHT TURN ONLY DURING PICKUP/DROPOFF AND SPECIAL EVENTS!” Seems pretty simple, right? Turn right onto the four-lane street, there are more than enough ways to get back to the main arteries after one does so. When the directions are followed, morning dropoff goes very smoothly.

Unfortunately, there are also special snowflakes who are either illiterate (and driving!), blind (and driving!), or very certain the rules don’t apply to them. My somewhat informal data-gathering on this point has returned something interesting: a good 80-85% of the time, the cars who wait to turn left, snarling up everything behind them and just generally acting like douchemobiles, fall into three distinct kinds. In descending order, they are:

* Various makes of Lexus
* Cadillac Escalades
* Various makes of Acuras

Strange, isn’t it? Those three groups comprise the overwhelming majority of douchenozzles I encounter while dropping the Little Prince off. Of the remainder, the biggest group is VERY LARGE TRUCKS, piloted by middle-aged men. I shall leave the obligatory “compensating for something” jokes to your imagination.

I am tempted now to tally the other bad behavior I see in the school parking lot, just to see if the pattern holds true. According to my (admittedly unscientific) recollections, though, it seems minivans with harried mothers are the rudest inside the lot itself, while the douchebaggery at the stop sign falls into other discrete groups.

Of course, I turn to data-gathering because it distracts me from perhaps uttering a curse or two upon the head of any specific jackass in the parking lot on any specific morning. I don’t want to waste my mojo on what are, in the grand scheme of things, Very Small Potatoes.

Still, it’s irritating, especially when one has to explain to a teenage boy why politeness is the best policy after all. And when it is keeping one from work that needs doing, it rather frays one’s nerves.

I believe I need tea. Onward and upward, I guess.

Things Not To Send An Author

snobgooseI need a new tag for the “I get mail…” stories. Here, have this little gem:

Date: April 6, 2015 at 6:18:59 PM PDT
Subject: Rose and Thunder can be a Bestseller.
From: *redacted*
To: contact@lilithsaintcrow.com

Hi Lilith,

I must say that’s an outstanding book you got out there. It has readers appeal, but you need to push it a bit.

You can check out *redacted*, they will direct up to 50 of their avid readers to purchase your book on Amazon and these reviewers will then post good reviews on your Amazon book page.

I once posted reviews for them in exchange for gift cards before i started my M.Ed program. Imagine having 50 readers post great reviews on your book page, that’ll definitely land you on the bestsellers list. I believe the many positive reviews from *redacted* will greatly help your book.

Thanks for putting out such an enjoyable book, but please promote it.

Regards,

*redacted*

Let’s just count the things wrong with this. First, you sent it on release day, so what are the chances that you’ve actually read the book? Close to zero, I fancy. Second, it’s a huge insult to think I’d purchase reviews, positive, negative, or otherwise. Third, for someone who claims to be in a Master’s of Education program, you should have at least enough common sense to know how insulting the mere suggestion is, and how ethically repugnant it would be for me to even consider. Fourth, your closing needs a little work–“Thanks…but please promote it,” is incredibly insulting as well. Deigning to tell me about a pay-for-reviews scheme and implying that I’m less than intelligent for not “promoting” my book to your exacting specifications is even worse. (It’s like a skeezy PUA attempting to neg me, for God’s sake. GROW UP.) Personally, I much prefer to do my promotion in less ignoble ways, thank you very much.

So, readers, here’s a way to be amazingly rude to an author, and if you’re a new author, taking this sort of email up on its offer is sketchy at best, a waste of money and a nasty skeleton to have in your career closet at worst.

There. A teachable moment, courtesy of someone who should have known better. I think it’s time for some tea now.

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:

Spring, Obscene

happy The trees are beginning to leaf out. Spring! I’m going about humming Tom Lehrer. (As one does.) There are two more garden boxes set up. They won’t be used right away, soil prep for the clay and dry shade is just beginning. Leafy greens will go in one box, the others will hold what I affectionately call a witch’s garden–rue, mugwort, things of that sort. (We must wear our rue with a difference, always.) Not until next year though–this year is for cover crops. Oats and field peas, planted then allowed to die down in winter to provide mulch. I may even put some massive daikons in–they’re good at breaking up clay. Since grass won’t grow in that upper part of the yard, I’m forced to other measures. (Like I ever need an EXCUSE to grow mugwort, but still…)

I’ve calmed somewhat after yesterday’s irritation. I can laugh at the hapless idiocy now, instead of being vexed at the insult to my intelligence or my books. There is one more small thing I wanted to say.

It seems absolutely insane to me that people can use a few “bad” words to level the charge of “obscenity” in an attempt to censor a work of literature, or any other art. It seems rather a misuse of the word.

You want to know what’s obscene? Extraordinary rendition. Children starving to death. The rate of incarceration in America. Racism. Sexism. Xenophobia. The current Republican party’s platform, policies, and behavior. Guantanamo Bay. Drones. Security theater in our airports that doesn’t make us safer, only accustoms us to ever-increasing violations of privacy. Dogfights, cockfights. MRAs harassing, doxxing, and threatening women. A child’s body left on the pavement for four and a half hours. War.

Those are obscene. Not books. Not art. At best, art can only faithfully mirror our own twisted selves.

*sigh* Now I’m disgusted all over again. Time to go back to revising. I may even throw in a few extra fucks, shits, goddammits, and cuntwhistles for good measure. Maybe even a dicklicking motherfucking shitsucking douchenozzle or two.

Over and out.

photo by: huntz

On Clean Reader

Manuscript So there’s this–an an app called “Clean Reader” that purports to “scrub” books of offensive terms. Joanne Harris has protested; she makes the excellent point, among others, of the insulting substitution of “witch” for “bitch.” Chuck Wendig also weighed in.

I therefore wrote to Clean Reader requesting that they do not touch my books in any way, shape, or form.

On Wed, 25 Mar at 12:36 PM , Lilith Saintcrow (contact @lilithsaintcrow.com) wrote:
Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to object, in the strongest possible terms, to my books’ inclusion in the Clean Reader app. I find the whole idea of Bowdlerisation of authors’ works to be distasteful and déclassé in the extreme, not to mention the proposed “cleaning” to be extremely gauche and heavy-handed in its “American evangelical crackpot” focus. If I wanted to write Tipper Gore-approved tripe, I would, and there are plenty of writers who do. I do not wish to, and I object strongly to your “app” insulting my work by presuming to substitute “cleaner” words. I chose, and continue to choose, every word in every book I write for a reason, and you are not licensed, allowed, approved, or empowered to change one jot or tittle.

Frankly, I am surprised you didn’t think to offer authors the chance to opt in or out of this mutilation of their work. In any case, I am emphatically opting out. Please make absolutely certain your “app” does not touch a single one of my books. You may find my works listed on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites; I write fiction under my name, Lilith Saintcrow, and YA fiction under Lili St. Crow.

Please reply with confirmation that my books are not and will not be touched by this “app.” I am uninterested in whatever justification you might offer for this censorship and mutilation of literature, no matter how well-meaning.

Sincerely,

Lilith Saintcrow

I received this reply.

On Mar 25, 2015, at 1:58 PM, Clean Reader (cleanreader @inktera.com) wrote:

Lilith:

First of all, thank you for taking the time to send us your message. Your request is being implemented right now, and should be completed within the next few hours (there is a QA process to validate de-listing titles).
In fact, it is our policy to de-list any titles as requested by the author without need for explanation.

Please understand, however, that there are a fair number of mis-representations and misinformation surrounding what the Clean Reader app does and does not do. For instance:
– The app does not remove any words from a book
– The app does not change any words in a book, or replace them with alternatives
– The app does not censor any works, or limit the user’s ability to read the book in the exact form provided by the author/publisher
– The app does not change (or understand) the meaning of any phrases or text
– The app does not substitute an edited or adjusted edition of the title
– The app does not discriminate against any person on any basis
– The app does not impose any feature upon a user, with the exception of DRM-related restrictions as presented by the author/publisher

Of course, we cannot know what you’ve been told about what Clean Reader is/does. But we can tell you that all of the above-mentioned statements are true.

I think the thing that irritated me most about it was the insult to my intelligence. The disingenuousness was perhaps merely a bonus. Offering “alternative” words to “obscenities” or “curse words” is a substitution of phrases or text. (See example in this Guardian article detailing Harris’s objections.) My reply, I’m afraid, is somewhat rude and has one regrettable typo, but in my defense, I was a little vexed.

On Wed, 25 Mar at 3:30 PM , Lilith Saintcrow (contact @lilithsaintcrow.com) wrote:
Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your reply.

I told you I was uninterested in whatever justification you might offer, but you persisted in sending one. I shall, therefore, reply.

Your app substitutes one word for another books according to some “cleanliness standard.” I find it disingenuous in the extreme for you to claim otherwise, when I have gone to your website and seen how the app works in your very own words. It also does change the meaning of phrases and text, by substituting other phrases and text. This is shown on your very own website. That it is the user choosing a “cleanliness level” is beside the point, especially since your “cleanliness” levels have a specific and prevailing “Christian,” “evangelical,” and, I should add, very 1950s McCarthy rubric.

If I wanted to use different words in my works, I would. I chose and choose the words in each book carefully, and they are not to be abridged or altered without my explicit consent. Your app might conceivably fall under the rubric of a “translator” program, but if my works are translated into a foreign language I work with the translator where possible, and am (this is very important) paid for the foreign-language rights. By not contacting the authors in your database (since your “list” of titles is indeed a database) and not giving them a chance to opt out of this bowdlerization (I presume you have Google, please look that up) you have committed an extremely grave error, compounded by your incredibly tone-deaf responses in social media and even in this email thread.

If readers are so offended by my dialogue/characters/plotlines, they are welcome to find other works. There are entire genres catering to such tastes. You shall not force my own books into those genres without my consent, and you shall not facilitate the dismemberment and mutilation of my work in this fashion, period, point blank.

No doubt there is money to be made catering to the fears and petty prejudices of those who wish fiction or language deboned, dethroned, denatured, or spayed, but you shall not make one red cent off doing so to my books. I would urge you to reconsider this entire debacle, but I suspect I would be wasting breath.

Please confine further replies to confirmation of my books removed from your database. I have no further time to waste today; I have books to write.

Sincerely,

Lilith Saintcrow

The reply I received, sent at 2:33PM PDT:

Lilith:

We have confirmed that your books (now and future) are unavailable for sale or discovery within the Clean Reader App.

I am a little irked at the entire thing, especially since they did not contact authors of books at risk of being Bowdlerised before listing them “for sale or discovery.” I won’t quite label that particular decision “shady as fuck” but it’s certainly an omission of what I’d think would be a necessary act of good faith or even just good business hygiene. I’m not quite sure how this got approved at the app stores (Apple and Google Play) in question, either.

For other authors wishing to object, I wrote to jared@cleanreaderapp.com and CC’d support@pagefoundry.com; the replies all came from support@inktera.com.

Time to go back to revision.

photo by: Muffet

Eating My Harmony

Windows The weekend was full of storms. Yesterday in particular, the wind made the cedars thrash, and the honeysuckle on the north side-fence narrowly missed being flattened by a fir bough. The noise made both dogs nervous, and the presence of punch balloons turned Odd Trundles into a ball of protective rage. (He was also bathed, so that probably had a little to do with his mood.) I had to put a couple balloons on the floor and pet them to make Trundles realize they weren’t enemies, and wouldn’t harm him. Poor little fellow.

This was also the weekend we discovered a lemon cake with chocolate frosting was not necessarily a good idea, though the kid who requested it loved it to stomach-burning distraction. I was glad to provide such joy, but really, lemon cakes belong with super-sour lemon glazes, in my humble opinion.

It was also (so much happened!) the weekend the Princess and I got addicted to Egg Baby. They’re cute! You tickle them! You feed them and bathe them and they hatch! There’s an achievement for letting an egg die, but neither of us can bear to do that. We’re bonding over fire eggs and ghost eggs and how long to let them sleep.

Hey, when you’ve got teenagers, you take every bit of commonality you can. I’m just thrilled both of them want to talk to me as often as they do. I gather it’s not normal for them to actually want to converse with a parental unit, so I’m glad to be bucking the trend.

Come Sunday, we were all in the living room. I was tending eggs and reading Che Guevara, the Prince was playing Fantasy Life, and the Princess alternating between egg-tending and Animal Crossing. The family that games together ends up not throttling each other, I guess.

I did finish the Guevara reader. It wasn’t until I got to the letters in Part IV that I realized Guevara had more than one child. Being left alone with multiple children to raise while a guy hares off to Bolivia isn’t my idea of a good time, but I guess Aleida March was okay with it. She wrote a book about the relationship, which I should add to my reading list just on general principle. I’m generally more interested in what those who actually raised the children have to say about revolutions.

What I didn’t get done over the weekend: finishing Cal & Trinity. I hoped I would, but last week the horrorshow of stress coming from a publisher’s extremely sloppy manner of business (yes, still waiting to be paid) put a dent in my productivity. I suspect I could work much more effectively if the worry over whether or not a contractually mandated cheque will arrive WEEKS AFTER it was supposed to wasn’t eating my harmony. This is another thing plenty of new authors aren’t told: employees of publishing houses generally don’t understand that for a writer, late cheques are like the salaried’s paycheck just not showing up. “Oh, we’ll fix paying you…eventually…” isn’t good enough for a salaried employee, but it’s expected to be good enough for a writer. It’s not fair, it’s pretty hideous, but it’s the way things are and one needs to be prepared for it. This is the sort of situation where having an agent is crucial, because, in Caitlin Kittredge’s immortal words, you can lose count of the many ways in which you’ll be screwed without one.

*looks back over preceding paragraphs* God. I feel like I need a nap just to recover from the weekend. But the kids are at school, the music is playing, and I’ve got work to catch up on. The proof copy of Rose & Thunder arrives today for my approval, and hopefully I’ll be able to approve it and have the paper version on sale early. We’ll see…

photo by: Exothermic

From Elfland to Kickstarter

King of Elfland's Daughter I finished reading The King of Elfland’s Daughter yesterday–Sunday being the day I’m most likely to have a chunk of time for concentrated reading. Dunsany’s been compared to Tolkien, and as far as I can see, neither of them cared to give women much agency or independent being as characters, which bothered me slightly when I read, near the end of the book, about Lirazel’s mother. She’s treated to a whole almost-paragraph or two; it was a little bitter-making because I’d been wondering where the Queen of Elfland was in all this, for pages and pages.

What I did like very much about the book was the descriptive flow, the craft, the sense that I was reading something translated from an older language. I can see where other authors paid tribute to Dunsany, and I like following those paths, reading things other people found joy and fuel in.

Change of subject: I am now very glad I didn’t do a Kickstarter for the projected second Steelflower book. Why? Because of this. Basically, another author got harassed and doxxed because she dared to be honest about where a significant portion of the raised funds would go–towards groceries and rent while she took the time to write the book her fans said they wanted, a book the trad publisher wasn’t interested in. A book she would be taking a significant pay cut to write. The entitlement of the assholes who harassed and doxxed her is breathtaking–what the fuck do they think writers live on while writing those books they love to consume, ‘ship, and torrent? Everyone’s got rent, and everyone’s gotta eat, and this persistent idea that “all writers are rich” or “artists shouldn’t care about money” does so much harm and strangles so many cool things before they can be born.

*sigh* I thought about it deeply and did a lot of number-crunching. It wouldn’t have made economic sense for me to do another Steelflower book without raising at least $15K, and afterward, the hit I’d take from torrenting and piracy would mean that I’d barely break even on the project. Sad, but true.

This is part of the cost of piracy, and part of the cost of closing our eyes to the ease with which people can harass on the internet. If it wasn’t socially acceptable to steal digital goods, or to harass women on the internet–if there was, say, a social cost to doing those things, instead of the “payment” thieves and harassers get by banding together and patting each other on the back–who knows what fantastic new creations we could all be enjoying right now?

Anyway. I’m in a mood where I do not suffer impoliteness with any grace today, as you can probably tell. Time for me to sign off, get the dogs settled for the morning, and get to work on Trinity’s story.

Over and out.