Is It Monday Yet?

Roaring lioness
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So CreateSpace decided–after the paperback of Beast of Wonder was already on sale–to “suppress” the book for “copyright verification.” They didn’t bother to verify the copyright during the proofing phase, no, they decided to pull this bullshit after the week-and-a-half wait for me to get and approve the paper proof. If I’d been planning a huge marketing push instead of a pretty incidental one, it would have been wasted. As it is, I’ve lost critical release-announcement sales as well as had to spend valuable working time dealing with this issue.

Not a good look, CS. I’m asking where to send the invoice. (Quixotic of me, but I am irritated enough not to care.)

I’m pretty sure they’re going to be folded into KDP soon, especially since KDP’s made the announcement that proof and author’s copies are going to be a thing and the recent announcement that Createspace is shuttering their author services (cover help, editing, marketing, etc.) arm. Really, the writing was on the wall as soon as Amazon bought them, but many authors I know were holding out hope CS would continue to function independently because their print quality was reasonably high.

Anyway, that was the weekend’s nasty news. In better events, I got some more earth turned in the upper garden boxes, and though there’s a risk of another frost, I should get some tender things in the ground. Maybe I can hide the pumpkin seeds from the squirrels if I plant enough of them? I’m pretty sure they got all the peas. *sigh* And what they didn’t get Miss B probably rooted out, thinking she was Finding What Mum Lost and Won’t Mum Be Glad.

Also on the bright side, Pocalypse Road is up for preorder! Yes, it will be available for Kindle, Nook, iBook, and Kobo; yes, there will be a paperback version; and yes, serial subscribers (on Patreon or Gumroad) will get the unedited AND edited ebook for free, as usual.

I also have space on my ebook formatting and cover copy waitlist, if that’s something you’re interested in. I have one editing slot open for the last six months of 2018, too.

Whew. It might not sound like a lot, but damn, the weekend was full. Now it’s back to the word mines–but first, Miss B has that gleam in her eye that means a run is necessary.

Over and out.

Morning Melange

Cow mouth 1
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I’ve been obsessively playing Hay Day lately. It’s a very gentle game, full of feeding animals and making things. It’s a nice change from the outside world’s screaming. Of course it’s one of those freemium games, which is annoying, but since I tend to play for a few months then leave a game fallow (pun intended) for longer, I can’t complain. Much.

There’s another round of bigots and sexist crapheads trying to pull the old “but art should be apolitical” canard. *sigh* Art is made by people and is the product of choices. People and their choices are political, because politics affects what choices people have. I cannot believe this simple and elementary truth is invisible; those who want “apolitical” art just want art that agrees with the benefit they believe they get from a status quo they see as under threat. Nothing more, nothing less.

Odd Trundles has taken to dragging every toy he can find to the office dog bed, piling them, then settling atop them like Smaug on his treasure. This would be fine (although it looks damn uncomfortable) if the pile didn’t tend to settle and move just when he has reached maximum nap, startling him awake. And when Odd is startled awake, he gets loud. The frantic “oh my GOD something MOVED” borking is then echoed by Miss B, who answers from whatever part of the house she is investigating or herding, and she scrabbles into the office at full speed, baying “I’LL GET IT, I’LL HEEEEEERD IT!”

This would be mildly amusing if not for the sheer volume sending my blood pressure skyrocketing and adrenaline pouring through me. Never a dull moment around here, folks. Never, ever.

I’ve also been reading Lovecraft lately. He was racist as fuck and in many cases not a very good writer. Plenty of his work has been referenced elsewhere, so it’s like reading the Bible despite all the rape and murder and nastiness, or Shakespeare despite all the misogyny, in order to better follow the references and threads through other works. I won’t deny that every once in a while I get the urge to read something, and it won’t pass until I’ve scratched the itch bloody, like a mosquito bite. (I’m terrible with those.) Cycling through obsessions feeds the mill inside my head, and what comes out is story-powder, or something.

What Lovecraft was very good at was giving just enough information to let the reader scare themselves most effectively. Kind of like how Pennywise was terrifying until the kids found out IT was just a giant spider, or Black Phillip/the Devil in Witch manages to terrify and entice with a spur, a heel, a whisper, and the flip of a cloak. I tend to err on the side of letting the reader’s imagination fill things in, and to doubly err on the side of trusting the reader to connect dots and infer from context.

This sometimes drives my editors up the wall. One of the major struggles in edit letters is where they think I’m relying too much on the reader’s ability to connect things in context. Since the story and connections are so clear inside my head, what’s blindingly obvious to me needs a little help to become obvious for readers. This is one of the many ways a good editor saves one’s bacon.

*looks over this post* Goodness, this is a melange, isn’t it. I contain multitudes this morning. Time for more tea, or maybe a bit of yoga to get the blood flowing. I am cold and sluggish, and even the adrenaline from Odd’s treasure-mound shifts and concomitant noise isn’t keeping me at a high enough pitch.

Over and out.

REVIEW: Stranger in the Woods

I was up late last night, despite exhaustion and Benadryl. (I blame my early-evening tea session.) I decided to use the time wisely by reading, and polished off The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel. It’s the story of Christopher Knight, the North Pond Hermit. Or, in other words, a monograph about an extremely selfish man, by an extremely selfish man.

My writing partner loaned me the book for Roadtrip Z survivalist stuff, and it scratched that itch nicely, I suppose. But it raised in me the same feeling of disgust Into the Wild did. Knight wanted to opt out of society and its pressures while also feeding off its benefits. He didn’t hunt, or trap, or fish–he robbed cabins and park kitchens. The people I felt the most for were the victims, in particular one woman who went to her cabin to escape and yet was robbed of any feeling of safety by Knight’s repeated break-ins.

Finkel pays lip service to the victims, of course, being more interested in quoting from the books Knight read and propping up his own self-image as the Hermit Whisperer. I only actively began to dislike Finkel at the point where he starts pursuing the just-released-from-prison Knight despite his subject’s repeated “no”s. At one point, Finkel shows up with an apple pie for Knight’s mother (who hung up on him when he called) and a bunch of lilacs, and it was so stalkerrific I was actually a bit nauseous. (Men who won’t take no for an answer aren’t only horrid to women, go figure.)

Add to that an episode of Finkel reporting suicidal ideation in Knight and a mutual crying session–patently unbelievable, my story-sniffer whiffed bullshit all over that particular chapter–with his subject, and Finkel’s attempts to worm himself into contact with Knight’s case workers afterward under the guise of being worried about the man…well, Finkel, despite his efforts to portray himself as a reasonable journalist, misses by a mile and comes off as a creep. Knight’s behavior was massively selfish, but Finkel’s edges into complete entitled bullshit. Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of either man while reading, but when the book closed, I pitied Christopher Knight.

TL;DR: One of those books that shows you more about the author than the subject, but there’s a couple of good survivalist things in it.

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*

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.

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

Post-Yule

Yule has passed, plenty of sugar has been consumed, there was ham. And bourbon! The dogs each got a chewable item, a Very Large One in Trundles’s case–that way, he can’t get bits stuck in his poor compromised airway. Plus, they get ham scraps in their kibble, which is, from their reaction, sweet sweet manna from heaven.

Oh, to be so easily satisfied.

You know what does not satisfy? Some jerkwads deciding to try and scam writers over the holiday. Then, when said jackasses are caught doing it and the internet falls on their head, sending out a racist, self-serving “nopology”–Foz Meadows has the rundown on it, here.

Remember Yog’s Law, my darlings: money flows to the writer. A “reading fee”, 99.999% of the time, is a scam. Just don’t do it. And don’t get talked into doing things “for exposure.” People–and careers–can die of “exposure”.

It snowed on Christmas Eve, and the white stuff is still lingering, as it’s been slow to warm. The roads are only moderately slick, but fir boughs are still painted with lacy white. Running is out for a little while, unless I use the treadmill, but I think I’m going to focus more on yoga for a few days. The stress of the holidays has settled in, and I don’t want to sweat it out just yet–being kind to my poor old corpse with hydration and stretching is what’s called for now.We’re in the trough of the year, and I’m bracing myself. 2016 was bad, 2017 said “hold my beer”, and I’m not looking forward to the incoming.

Anyway, there’s a proof to go through and the dogs are giant balls of neediness and energy this morning. I have to wash Odd’s big fancy dog bed, too. No rest for the weary, the wicked, or those owned by canines.

Over and out.