Breach, Gasp, Dive

So not only did the garbage disposal explode (relax, it’s fine, there will be no plumbers called today) and the Moka pot decide to cough the instant I lifted the lid (again, relax, I was standing far back and the stovetop is used to worse) but the dogs are entirely too energetic (an entire weekend off means they are incapable of relaxation until we run) and I decided, in a fit of pique, to wash my sheets this morning. (There were, alas, a number of squeaky toys dismembered upon my bed in the recent past.) So of course there were also many Canine Attempts to Help, of the sort that are Amusing but No Real Help At All.

I’ve two cover questionnaires to fill out, since I took the weekend entirely off, and a full day’s writing as well as Latin and piano practice. Dinner must be thought of too, but I’m already worn out, and having to wait for yet another phone update before we go running is rasping the dogs’ nerves as well as my own.

All that aside, though, I feel way better than I did before the weekend. I was plunged into a despair, the world on fire and no help in sight. I am still pessimistic about the survival of humanity as a whole (who could fail to be, at this point?) but my determination to do the best I can with what time I have left remains unshaken, and that’s the important thing.

Even if it’s not, I’m going to treat it as such. Of course it’s all hopeless, but it’s important to fight anyway. Just keep swimming, and all that.

So I’ve breached the surface of despair and taken a deep breath. It’s good to get some air after all the darkness. Friar Tuck and Prince John are on a space flagship, Maid Marian’s getting ready for a speeder race, and I’ve a couple of assassination-happy princes maneuvering for political advantage. As soon as coffee settles, the dogs need a good medium-length run, and I could do with some endorphins. I’ve taken all the Roadtrip Z books from KDP to Draft2Digital, so that’s done1, and I’ll think about if I want to do the same with the other self-published stuff that isn’t so recent.

May you likewise find a breath of deep relief today, dear Readers. Over and out.

What Happened to ATLANTA BOUND?

I never, ever upload a placeholder file to any digital publishing platform. Ever. I’ve heard too many horror stories of platforms releasing the placeholder instead of the final file.

But even doing everything correctly, it seems, is no guarantee of success when you’re dealing with Amazon.

Despite having a full, complete, and final .mobi of Atlanta Bound from the very beginning1, Amazon sent out a corrupted file (comprising only front and back matter, not the content) to preorder customers. Of course they waited until release day to tell me, and I immediately uploaded another fresh, full, complete .mobi file. (This can be seen in the “look inside” portion of the Amazon detail page.)

You can see it. It’s there. But Amazon won’t take Atlanta Bound out of jail.

After nine emails and four calls to KDP’s “customer service” line (where I get hung up on halfway through the option tree) there is still no move on Amazon’s part to fix their mistake. Unfortunately, Amazon will not condescend to reply to my numerous emails, phone calls, and at least one customer service chat. Atlanta Bound is still listed as “unavailable” a week after release. One of the reviews on the detail page says that Amazon customer service sent her the full, correct file when she gave them her preorder number, so at least there’s that. But the detail page is still locked, and I don’t know if other preorder customers have gotten theirs. There is literally and absolutely nothing else I can do here; Amazon is simply refusing to do their damn job.

I have unpublished the book on KDP and will be shifting it over to Draft2Digital, which holds the distinction of being a company that hasn’t screwed over multiple authors yet. That means it will be on sale through Amazon again, it will just be supplied through a different pathway. Of course the transition will take time.

If you have a Kindle, you can get the .mobi edition through my Gumroad store, and it will play nice with said Kindle in every way.

IF YOU PREORDERED THROUGH AMAZON AND DID NOT GET YOUR COMPLETE DOWNLOAD, please email me through my contact page. Upon verification of purchase, I’ll personally send you the .mobi file. I am very sorry, I did everything I could to make this a better experience for my readers, but when Amazon decides to make their displeasure with a vocal critic of their business practices known, I suppose they go all the way.

I mean, sure, this could be an honest mistake or some form of inefficiency. But I’m not thinking it is, and until something happens to change my mind that’s the assumption I’m operating under. Future books will probably not be released through the KDP interface.

Readers, I apologize. I did everything I could, and it still didn’t work out. Thank you to everyone who’s been supportive through this. Release Day is always a special kind of nerve-wrack hell, and this kind of bullshit makes it even worse.

I’ve short stories to revise and more books to write. Back to work it is.

UPDATE 1/15/19: So I unpublished Atlanta Bound yesterday morning before writing this post. Guess what happened less than two hours later? Go on, guess.

That’s right. Someone at KDP finally wrote back.

 Jan 14, 2019, at 10:58 AM,Amazon.com<[email protected]> wrote:

Hello Lilith,

My name is [[redacted]], one of the Customer Service Supervisors with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Your case has been brought into my attention.

I’m very sorry for the frustration this issue has caused.

I checked your account and see that, your book, “Atlanta Bound” is currently in “Unpublished” status. In this case, I’d request you to republish your book in order for us to investigate further.

In the meantime, I’ll reach out to our quality team to remove the error message from your detail page. I will reach out to you with an update as soon as possible.

Also, once you republished your book, we will be able to push the updated content to the customers who pre-ordered your book.

Thanks for your understanding.

Can you imagine the look on my face when I opened that email? It was somewhat close to this:

Here’s my reply:

Jan 14, 2019, at 11:40 AM, Lilith Saintcrow [[personal email address redacted]] wrote:

Dear Mr [[redacted]],
Yes, after a week of being ignored—of NINE separate emails sent through the KDP Help menu, FOUR phone calls to KDP Customer Service (all of which hung up on me halfway through the option tree), and a Customer Service chat with a very nice young man named Syed who could not fix the problem—I have unpublished Atlanta Bound. I did so, in fact, earlier this very morning. I will be publishing it (and future works) to Amazon through Draft2Digital instead of KDP. I have no desire to have KDP/Amazon continue to ignore me while profiting off my work. You can find more details here: https://www.lilithsaintcrow.com/2019/01/what-happened-to-atlanta-bound/

There are two things you can do right now:

* You can make certain the preorder customers all have the full download. This is non-negotiable. You guys messed up, you need to fix it with the customers. I expect every one of those customers to have the full download and the royalties to be clearly marked on my next statement from KDP.

* You can let me know where to send an invoice for the working time I lost while attempting numerous times to get KDP to fix their error. I bill $75/hr for freelance work; emails and the like are automatically billed at a minimum of a quarter-hour apiece.

As you can no doubt tell, I am extremely frustrated with Amazon’s lack of attention to this matter, and furthermore I am insulted that it took unpublishing the book to get any sort of response. You can, no doubt, see that I am a prolific author; KDP is well on its way to losing my future business for good.

I look forward to your prompt reply.

I don’t think I’ll get a prompt reply.

Update 1/21/19: Amazon now tells me that all preorder customers should have the full download. If you do not, please email [email protected]. The book is now listed on Amazon as well, but the reviews seem to have not come through.

They’re still refusing to pay the invoice, which lengthens every time I have to email them about this damn matter. But I didn’t really expect much else.

Prospective Jacket

Both dogs are exhausted by roughhousing after breakfast. Which is fine by me, it’ll make walking them easier. It’s also chilly today, with a brisk wind, which Sir Boxnoggin does not enjoy. Miss B, thanks to her wonderful Aussie undercoat, is an all-weather dog, but Boxnoggin may need a jacket if it gets much colder.

I have deep philosophical objections to pet costumes, but a little pink plaid jacket to make Boxnoggin feel like a warm boy sounds delightful. I’ll have to take a handful of treats and measure him up.

He will probably try to eat the tape measure, but such is life with canines.

I spent a good seven hours hunched over revisions yesterday, which was at once a vacation–because my work days are generally about ten hours long–and a torment, because my back has decided it doesn’t like the super-fancy office chair at the moment. Time for pillows and other such things until my back decides once more I and the chair can be trusted.

I almost, almost got to the point where I need to shoehorn another scene in. I think the bastard prince needs to be on a caravan heading into the capital city of his country’s greatest enemy, and seeing the sheer size and scope of said city will have a few effects on him. He’s very much a “go big or go home” character, and it’ll be interesting if he decides to do the former in the series.

As it is, though, I just want this goddamn revision over. The book’s crept past 185K, and if one more person says “but it needs more politics!” I am going to scream like a Munch painting. Since a certain game of thrones has become popular, everyone wants to shoehorn similar things into every damn fantasy, losing sight of the fact that it’s characters people care about that drive the whole thing. Publishers are always looking to force the Last Big Thing into the Next Big Thing, whether it wills or no. Fighting that tendency is exhausting sometimes.

All the same, I love my job, and I’m sure when this book achieves its final fighting form I’ll be proud of it. I’m just tired right now, that’s all.

Which means it’s time to get out the door with the dogs. If we keep moving the wind won’t trouble us much. At least, that’s the plan.

Over and out.

Die Hard and Ham

They’re about to start playing Yule music everywhere you go. Honestly, they started even before Samhain; pretty soon the consumerism ramp-up will begin in July. I despise Yule music with a passion; it partakes of my feelings around the entire holiday. Especially my feelings from when I worked retail and saw overstimulated children dragged around by tired, snappish parents. The world might be better off if we stopped this ridiculousness, but as long as there’s money to be made we won’t.

Which is pretty par for the course with humanity, really.

You can probably tell I’m in a Monday mood. I’m sure lots of people really like Yule, but it was always such a source of stress and tension growing up I am allergic to the very mention. I’ve always seen it as a great pretense–people pretending to love their family get-togethers, people pretending they have the cash to spend on unwelcome gifts, you get the idea. Add in the fact that no gift I received as a child was permanently given or free1 and you can see why I just want to cancel the whole thing.

Fortunately, my kids feel the exact opposite way. To them, Yule has always been a soft, relaxing time, full of good food and happiness. It makes me feel good to see their joy; indeed, it’s the only reason I participate in the holiday anymore. But even so, I’d really like it if the whole thing didn’t send its tentacles creeping out to strangle other holidays I like better.

…it’s over a month away and already I’m done with the bullshit, it’s going to be a long holiday season.

In any case, there is a gentle jog to accomplish on my strained ankle, possibly while a dog or two tries to re-injure me, and there’s work to be done. There’s always work to be done, and perhaps I can work straight through all the foolishness and only start decorating on the solstice.

It’s worth a shot.

At least there will be Die Hard and ham, and a ham bone means split-pea soup. Which the kids despise, even after I christened it Dragon Snot Soup, so there’s more for me. It requires fresh bread, too, and that’s always a fun task. Now that I’ve finished my yearly complaining, I’ll be turning on my “ignore” blinkers and moving ahead.

Just kidding. I’ll complain more in the weeks to come. It’s a holiday tradition, after all.

*snork* Over and out.

Let Me Be Wrong

Afterwar

I’ve talked before about how difficult and draining  Afterwar was to write, and how bumpy the road to publication was. The pain is still somewhat ongoing; I feel an ignored Cassandra, shouting into the wind. I fucking told you so,

*sigh* I was prepared for the book to be ignored, but I was not prepared for the feeling of…well, I feel like I did my best and it still wasn’t enough. It’s a common, creeping little feeling, lying in wait for any unsuspecting (or even suspecting) writer.

I just keep looking at current events and shaking my head. I saw this coming in 2015, I think, and the weight of seeing ahead, along with the weight of witnessing my country descend gleefully into totalitarian filth, wears on me daily. I can barely stand to look at the news. My heart aches.

Our midterm ballots arrived last week. The Princess and I (the Prince has not yet reached voting age) sat down at the dining room table, shielding our ballots, and passed the state voter’s guide back and forth, reading campaign statements and filling in little boxes. She’s hopeful.

I…don’t know.

History tells me what comes next. The camps and dehumanization are already here, and growing worse daily. The “Fuhrer worship” of that small-handed orange shithead grows, racists and nationalists cavort openly with their fascist buckles jangling, and our major journalism is supine. The police are full of rage, hatred, and military surplus; they are the Mango Mussolini’s private army now.

I know it’s always been bad. Even Eisenhower saw where the military-industrial complex and its pursuit of more profit by fear and murder would end. There’s been no shortage of warnings. America was a genocidal slave state from the start, and refusal to look at that plain fact lets exceptionalism, fascism, and murder grow like rank weeds in rich soil.

I just…I am in despair. I poured my heart and soul into a warning cry, and suspected it would be ignored. The small hope that it wouldn’t is thoroughly crushed.

So I continue writing. What else can I do?

I just finished a romance because after  Afterwar and the epic fantasy, I wanted something lighter. Now I’m struggling with guilt because how dare I write something I enjoy, knowing what I know?

The enjoyment is necessary. We’re not just fighting to halt evil, but also to preserve what is precious and joyful and good. Intellectually I know this.

I just have a hard time convincing my heart that it’s not a waste of time, that I’m not fiddling while Rome burns.1 I already feel like no matter what I do, it won’t be enough. Nobody will be saved, nothing will be preserved, the horrifying things will come to pass and all I’ve ever accomplished is dust in the wind.

I have to believe that it is the attempt itself that matters. I have to believe that daily decency, kindness, listening, boosting marginalized voices, and refusing to let the despair paralyze me matters.

Some days, though, heartsick and sore, I can’t bring myself to. Some days I have very little faith in anything other than humanity drowning itself and the planet in its own blood. Some days, like today, I am not even furious, just exhausted, terrified, and sure that nothing matters.

Please, dear gods, let me be wrong.

Please let me be wrong.

Plausible or Otherwise

I finished Halberstam’s The Coldest Winter last night, and closed the book with a precise, leaking anger. My grandfather was in the Korean War, and he would never talk about it–at least, not sober, not until the last time I saw him before he died. “It was cold, and it was hell,” was all he’d say.

Reading how the lower ranks were betrayed by MacArthur’s racist hubris and supercilious, malignant narcissism (and how Almond faithfully echoed both) is fury-making, especially with the current malignant narcissist in the White House. And, frankly, now that we’ve had decades of the Republicans toadying to the rich and attempting to roll back the New Deal, it’s enough to solidify my disdain for anyone calling themselves Republican at all. You absolutely know what you’re doing when you self-identify as a racist piece of shit, and Republicans have for decades.

There is no deniability, plausible or otherwise, on that point.

Halberstam’s contortions to pin all the blame, all the time, on postwar Democrats were also maddening. The fact that the Republicans were stoking fear and hatred as a matter of course for their own purposes–look, they only kept McCarthy until he was damaging to Eisenhower, a centrist conservative–cannot be glossed over, but by God, Halberstam tried.

Being a white male historian must be a helluva drug. *eyeroll*

Anyway, I read it as an overview, and maybe I can read the book on the Chosin Reservoir without feeling lost. Of course I’ve set aside some books on Vietnam too, since that war reaped the foul harvest of the Korean War’s mistakes not once, not twice, but over and over again, with chasers of gratuitous careerism and racism on top of each swallow.

Along with research reading, it’s probably going to be depressing as all fuck. At least I have some Laura Kinsale and Violette Leduc set aside as rewards to take the curse off. I am in a complete state of meh, and probably will be for a while now.

*sigh* Now it’s time to take the dogs on a run and let them try to kill me. Sir Boxnoggin is dancing with impatience and whining whenever a squirrel rustles outside, and Miss B is following his lead on bad behavior. I’m glad I didn’t get her an energetic companion when she was younger, or the house might not have survived. As it is, she moderates some of his bounciness, just by sheer dint of being more experienced and tired of all the bullshit.

I know the feeling.

Over and out.

Too Damn Hot

I think the recent heat has disarranged Odd Trundles. His appetite has diminished, which is…not usual. At least he’s still scrabbling after whatever hits the ground, but he’s lost some weight and doesn’t seem interested in his kibble. This all started with a couple nights of it being too warm to sleep comfortably even with the AC on, so hopefully a break in the weather and sleeping outside his crate on some cool hardwood will help. Yesterday he was lethargic, but the heat enervated everyone at chez Saintcrow.

Us pale Northwest mushrooms don’t do well when the mercury climbs.

I spent the weekend running, running, running to get the daily trivia of life packed away. Now that it’s Monday, I’m exhausted, and going for a run before caffeine probably didn’t help. I used to get up, grab a banana and some milk, and head out, saving coffee for when I returned. Seems like that might not be the best strategy anymore. In any case, I came home, washed off the sweat, and had second breakfast with my usual two jolts, and I’m waiting for it all to settle.

I know I should be working on HOOD. I know I should be gearing up for revisions on Maiden’s Blade. Nothing seems to be working right on the page, though. I had to toss a hard-fought chapter in HOOD and re-do it from the ground up, and though it certainly worked after I finished, the aggravation was intense. How long will it be before I gain any joy in what I’m writing? Lately it’s been a slog. A miserable one, too, considering I get itchy and weird if I don’t write. Annoyed if I do, driven to distraction if I don’t–it’s enough to make me want to swear off the whole thing and become a plumber. A taxidermist. Something, anything else.

The only way out is through. I know this. I also know this is leftover stress from the various problems with Afterwar, cumulative rasping on the physical mechanism until it frays. Knowing it doesn’t make the deep snarl running just under my skin any easier to soothe. Current political events don’t help my mood, either. I’m having to institute a moratorium on news just to save what little insulation I have on my wires.

Meh. I’m too anxious and annoyed to go on complaining. I suppose I could simply retreat to the couch and read something happy today, or curl up and watch a Shaw Bros. movie. Or I could just get over myself, get some ice water, and get back to work.

Guess which one is more likely. Go on, guess.

Over and out.