An Unserious Post

Coming Home
© Kwest19 | Dreamstime Stock Photos
One of the things I always loved doing was walking at night. Especially with a camera that functioned well in low light settings. I am, by nature, a night person. (Which surprises nobody.) Having diurnal children means I’ve been fighting my body for years now. The entire world is set up for the daytime people.

I always told myself that when the kids were older I’d allow myself back on my preferred schedule. But then…dogs. Especially Miss B, who is a BRIGHT SHINY HAPPY MORNING DOGE. Of course, as she grows older, she’s more inclined to have a bit of a lie-in, but her idea of one is a full fifteen minutes of hard snoring before nosing me hopefully or sticking her paw in my armpit to make sure I’m still alive.

She does so love to be helpful. It absolutely torments her if I shut her out of the bedroom while I do twenty minutes of yoga. Apparently that is an eternity of cold loneliness, so bleak and terrifying she has to howl at the door. It’s kind of hard to relax, even in Corpse Pose, with a dog wailing that she MISSES, and LOVES, and CANNOT BREATHE without, YOOOOOOOOU. Then, of course, Odd Trundles, who doesn’t understand quite what’s going on, thinks that because the smarter dog is wailing something must be wrong, gets in on the act.

It’s either deal with that noise outside the door or let them in, where they decide to helpfully nose or hip-check me in every pose. Downward dog? They have to be underneath me! Plank? Try to knock Mum over or take out her arms! Reclined side twist or Figure-4? Sit on Mum’s hair! Reclined Goddess? Crawl over Mum’s knees to give her a Van Damme groin stretch! Tree Pose? HIT HER ANKLES! AGILITY TRAINING!

…yeah, so either way, those twenty minutes of yoga are probably far more…active…than any swami or guru ever intended. At least the last time they decided to cavort under me while I was trying to stay upright in Tree Pose, I fell onto my bed instead of Odd’s crate. Small mercies.

I did have a Serious Post planned for today, but apparently I’ve become distracted. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Wandering around at night to take pictures.

Maybe there will come a time in my life when I can do that again. Sadly, it’s not yet, so I have to do other things I love. The bright side is, I have so many things to love and be interested in. Even if I have to drag my protesting body out of bed and subject it to wakefulness when it’s genetically designed for sleep.

*shuffles off to find more caffeine*

*also, dodging dogs*

Language Morning

Get up. Stumble through yoga. Stagger into kitchen. Let dogs out, feed cavy his morning treat. Let dogs in, feed them. Breakfast with French and Spanish.

Make coffee. Trip twice heading down the hall, manage not to spill any coffee, open up Rosetta Stone for Latin. Stare at “hoc, hic, haec” and curse every goddamn part of speech. Startle-jump when phone buzzes, reminding me I’ve a 5K slated for later this morning. Eye Caesar, trying to decide if it’s worth opening him up today.

Feel guilty for even contemplating skipping a day. Startle-jump again when a cold wet nose touches my ankle. Let cat out, muttering imprecations.

Head back to my bedroom without tripping, so the coffee must be sinking in. Brush teeth, mumbling “hoc, hic, haec” and various versions of “Fuck this noise.” Grab running shoes, wonder which of my children is stealing my running socks, decide it doesn’t matter. Maybe the dogs have eaten them. Head back to office, stare at Caesar, daring him to open up and say one. goddamn. thing. Have longing thoughts of traveling back in time and stabbing Caesar before Brutus could.

Open Caesar. Blink. Begin reading aloud, checking each sentence against translation on facing page. Startle-jump again when someone slams a car door across the street. Drop Caesar, begin swearing softly so as not to wake the children. Pet Miss B, who has decided I obviously need help and many snootboops this morning. End up sitting on office floor, dog under my arm, reciting Caesar interspersed with “goddammit, fuck you, alliteration, what does that mean…oh, okay…fuck you anyway…”

I have longing thoughts of adding Korean to my daily language practice, but I’m not sure I’d survive the experience.

And that, my friends, is what a Monday morning is like here a la Chez Saintcrow. It’s like every other morning, except with about ten percent more swears.

Weekend Reading

The weekend, with alternating sun and drenching cool rain, has spun spring into high gear. Fortunately, the winter’s hard freezes seem to have put a dent in the slug population, or my hostas have the jump on the things, I can’t tell which. It’s nice not to have them blasted by slug-trails as soon as they sprout this year. The apple trees are in bloom, the cherries are exuberant, and even the hail has been moderate. Of course, the squirrels dug up most of my favas, so I have to replant those to get some nitrogen-fixing into the soil, but after the winter I kind of don’t blame the little furry fuckers.

They’ve grown amazingly fat now. And they’ve taken to showing up on the deck during our dinner hour, which makes me frantically check to make sure everyone’s wearing shoes. The kids laugh at me, but I don’t find it very funny.

I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Last American Man this weekend. I thought it would feed Roadtrip Z, and my writing partner was reading it for her own purposes, so I picked it up from the library.

It’s been a long time since I hate-read a book, and this one I had to get furious over to finish. Not because of the author–Gilbert has serviceable prose, and does her best to present the subject fairly and honestly. I do wish she would have read The National Uncanny before spouting off about the “frontier”, though. (To be honest, I think The National Uncanny should be required reading for every American.)

No, what pissed me off to no end was the massive, entitled selfishness of her subject Eustace Conway. It’s similar to how I felt reading Krakauer’s Into the Wild–here are white boys from comfortable if not wealthy homes, leaving a trail of broken promises and people behind while they go off “into the wilderness” and, as if that’s not enough, have the sheer unmitigated gall to look down their noses at other people’s embrace of modernity. These jackasses keep being treated as if they’re somehow special, and it irks me to no end. Selfishness on this scale, while de rigueur for mediocre white men, is always irritating. I’ll use just one example here: Eustace Conway’s TED talk. Not only is it billed as him living a “deeper life” somehow, since he shits in the woods, but you’d have read Gilbert’s book to know that the horse trips he talks about were taken with other people–his brother and a female friend in the first case, and Conway’s then-girlfriend for the buggy ride. He completely discounts the work of others that make his little Davy Crockett dreams possible.

…yeah, you can tell what I thought of all of that. Massive, blinding privilege is all over this guy, and yet he gets kudos for being somehow “natural.” How many indigenous speakers could have used some of the PR air his blowhard self took up? Imagine, if he was a minority, how differently several parts of his story would have played out.

My fury, it has many parts. Suffice to say I finished the book, read some news articles about Conway’s legal troubles, and rolled my eyes so hard it probably caused a few of the neighbors to think there was spring thunder. To be stringently fair, my feelings about camping may have influenced me somewhat. Thousands of years we’ve spent as a species, getting away from being naked in the woods with no toilet paper, and some idiots think they want to go back.

Anyway, I’m on Sydenham’s The Girondins, after finishing Mathiez’s After Robespierre and a newer edition of Bruun’s Saint-Just: Apostle of the Terror. There really are no good in-depth biographies of Saint-Just, at least, in English. Part of that is probably that Robespierre eclipsed him, and another part is probably the paucity of documentary evidence. I have to say Tanith Lee’s The Gods are Thirsty has the best portrait of Saint-Just around, and it’s a novel, he’s only a secondary character.

The weekend encompassed much else, of course, including the washer acting up. Now that the coffee’s sunk in, I’m going to go prop it up and take a whack at fixing what I think the problem might be. Wish me luck, and if that doesn’t work, let’s hope the home warranty covers washers.

Over and out.

Give the Bitch a Good Show

Using the phone generally makes me so anxious I shake. I’m now using 5Calls, though, because daily superhero work doesn’t have to fray me at the edges so badly. So, if you have phone anxiety, like me, and also want to make a difference–again, like me!–I recommend checking it out.

The weekend was all about proof pages for Cormorant Run, hauling compost to all the garden boxes (shovelgloving saved my back, I’ll just say that much) and washing Odd Trundles since it wasn’t cold enough outside to justify letting him marinate longer.

Oh, yeah, and watching the attempted coup and concomitant constitutional crisis. We are living in interesting times, indeed. A rug-headed pig-eyed Cheeto with a Russian dictator’s hand up his rump–and a Nazi on record as wanting to destroy America running his National Security Council–is already killing people. It’s only going to accelerate from here, my friends.

I am clinging to hope by finger-and toenails. We outnumber the fascists by an order or two of magnitude. History’s gaze is upon us, and I intend to give the bitch a good show. It’s kind of funny to realize that every book I’ve ever written has been training for fighting evil, training for radical empathy, training for putting my head down and doing the goddamn work to make things better, to create a world. Often, looking at the news, I feel helpless, but then someone writes to tell me I’ve given them hope and my heart turns into a flower. Or someone writes to tell me they’re never buying my books again because of my politics, and I think, well, if you have problems with me calling a fascist a fucking fascist, I’m glad your grubby little authoritarian fingers won’t sully pages I’ve slaved over and bled for, fuckyouverymuch and goodnight.

There’s a lot of the latter going on.

So this week it’s back to the grindstone, making my calls every day, and if I get a certain number of wordage in, hitting up a yarn store. I feel the need for a pussy hat. And knitting might help keep me from imploding in a black hole of despair, too.

Use what you have, I guess. Here’s your regular daily reminder that this shit is not normal, your feelings are valid, and together we are stronger than any tiny-handed dictator.

Over and out.

Not In Good Faith

I’m slowly getting back to myself after the Snowpocalypse and Concomitant Freezing. Everyone in the house is fighting off another flulike bug, probably spread from the Princess’s workplace or the Prince’s school and grown virulent in confinement. So far I’ve been able to stave it off with sleep and exercise, but who knows how long that will last? The news adds its own layer of depression, too, except for the marches and resistance. I can, when I have enough energy, feel some hope that decent people outnumber der Turmper and his brownshirts.

The trouble is, my energy is at not quite an all-time low, but close. I just…there is so much wrong. The list of lies der Turmper has inflicted on the public is seemingly endless, and he’s already signing executive orders that will kill people. Make no mistake, that’s what they’ll do–defunding Planned Parenthood and Medicare kills people. The right wing has installed a reality TV Muppet in our highest office, one they think will hand them and their corporate masters everything they want as long as they figure out how to stroke his ego. And as long as der Turmper’s narcissism is being fed, he doesn’t care that he’s being used. It’s a perfect marriage, really, except, like I said, it will kill people.

If you don’t care to hear what I have to say about this, stop reading now. That’s all the warning I’m going to give.

I grew up with conservative bigots, and I can tell you that plenty of them now are thinking that only people who disagree with them will die. It doesn’t work like that, of course, but they won’t admit as much. I used to think conservatives and bigots were just misled, but now, with a much wider experience of human beings, I don’t. Their innocence is a fiction I can no longer afford to believe. Conservative bigots do not argue in good faith; they know they are wrong, they know they are bigots. If they didn’t, facts would make an impression on their hatreds.

The right-wing authoritarian mindset is an exceedingly fragile one, requiring much violence and propping-up on a daily basis. Don’t believe me? Listen to a few hours of right-wing talk radio, and listen to the lies peddled and the fearmongering. The ego of an authoritarian is large but easily punctured, a paper balloon. (It’s no secret that a bully’s ego is just the same.) It requires constant applications of fear, faux righteousness, and adulation in order to stay upright.

If you’re interested, a good rundown of how this is often applied in evangelical circles is here. Really, the same playbook is used by gaslighting abusers, racist organizations, and right-wing authoritarians. It’s used because it works, and because so many people want to believe they are heroes without doing any damn work.

Is my analysis harsh? Yes. Do I think I’m being overly judgmental? No.

No, I do not.

I remember the ass-end of the Reagan years. I remember when conservative talk radio underwent its huge flowering, back when Rush Limbaugh was a hot rising star and fax machines lit up with his devoted followers’ circulars. I remember 9/11 and the march to war afterward, and how people knew the WMDs were a lie but wouldn’t hold Bush Jr and his cabal accountable. I remember every fucking conspiracy theory about the Clintons, I remember the daily–daily!–attempts to rob Obama of legitimacy. Time and again I have seen how the Republicans work.

Not only that, but I grew up with this. I know their dogwhistles. They beat me when I didn’t live up to some arbitrary rule for the day, or when my facial expression wasn’t the “right” one (at eight years old) or when they had a bad day somewhere and had to take it out on someone weaker because just fucking dealing with it like an adult was not their cuppa tea. I listened to them at family gatherings, I heard all the “jokes” designed to grind women, minorities, or a different religion into the mud. I was even once beaten with a Bible for daring to say war was bad, after having a list of casualties from Vietnam and Korea rubbed on my face so hard the skin broke and bled and I had to lie at school the next day about falling down.

Yes, I know these people. I know them intimately. I do not believe them innocent. Those who are not consciously evil are still dangerous, and I do not believe them innocent at all. I can feel empathy for a rattlesnake’s fear, but I don’t have to let it bite me.

The thing is, we are in a mass of these rattlesnakes, they have wormed their way into power as a culmination of decades of using the Abuser’s & Bully’s Playbook, and fighting them off is exhausting.

If there is one thing I want you, the reader, to take away from this (rather long) ramble, it is this: Stop thinking that der Turmper and the Republicans are arguing in good faith. They are not. They are after power and money, and will kill whoever is in their way because they have convinced themselves they are heroes of a 50s kitsch America-that-never-was. If there is a way out of this, it lies not on the path of trying to meet them in the middle. Rational people have been trying to “meet them in the middle” for DECADES, and I have never seen it work. What I’ve seen instead is the right wing screaming, sulking, and gaslighting until they get their way, then turning even more viciously on anyone who didn’t immediately cave in to their demands. Over and over and over again I’ve seen it. To paraphrase S. Jason Black, when I put my key in the ignition for the hundredth time and the car starts the hundredth time, it’s ridiculous to even think the two aren’t connected.

Just because rational people with a normal dose of empathy can be met halfway does not mean that right-wing authoritarians or conservative bigots can. There is no middle ground for them, only their boot stamping endlessly on a human face and their pockets full of useless gold while they crouch slavering and grinning on a mound of corpses, listening to a recorded crowd’s adulation.

I am not resigned to having my face stomped in. But I am so, so tired today.

Over and out.

Cabin Fever

We’re still snowed in, so telling the story of Who Shot At Willard and the Consequences Thereof has hit an unexpected snag. Everyone is inside, safe and relatively warm. They’re saying “ice storm”, though, and those are two words I never wanted to hear again. The dogs are both snarky and twitchy because it’s been too slick to take them out, and Miss B in particular needs a job or two before she goes mad from boredom. I need to get out and run, too, before I explode with frustration. The treadmill only goes so far.

Case in point: it’s taken me about twenty minutes to write the above, between dogs demanding attention, kids wanting to talk, shivering, refilling my coffee cup, and various moments of irritation so intense I have to shut my eyes and take at least five deep breaths to stave off screaming.

We’re supposed to warm up after the ice storm, which will mean rain and flooding. At this point, I’m counting it a small price to pay for just getting back to normal.If I was a little younger I’d probably go running, even on solid ice, and count a cracked bone as just the cost of getting some of the damn prickling under my skin worked off.

So I’m going to channel some of that aggression and irritation into Afterwar, do some office cleaning, and play some Prince to encourage dancing around. One kind of effort is much the same as another, and if I keep moving, I won’t think about how furious I am at being trammeled. Solitude is as necessary as food or air, and the older I get, the more so it becomes.

Over and out.

All Romance Hell No

So.

This landed in my inbox today.

FROM: All Romance Ebooks
TO: contact@lilithsaintcrow.com
DATE: 28 December 2016 at 10:57
SUBJECT: All Romance Closure

RE: All Romance Closure

ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS, LLC
6252 Commercial Way #145, Weeki Wachee, FL 34613

To Whom It May Concern:

It is with great sadness I announce that we are winding down the operations of All Romance eBooks, LLC. For the first year since opening in 2006, we will be posting a loss. The financial forecast for 2017 isn’t hopeful and we’ve accepted that there is not a viable path forward.
We are grateful for the opportunity to have worked with you. On midnight, December 31, our sites will go dark and your content will cease to be available for sale through our platforms. This includes any content you are having us distribute to Apple. If you wish to inactivate your content sooner, you can do so by logging into your publisher portal.

We will be unable to remit Q4 2016 commissions in full and are proposing a settlement of 10 cents on the dollar (USD) for payments received through 27 December 2016. We also request the following conditions:

1. That you consider this negotiated settlement to be “paid in full”.
2. That no further legal action be taken with regards to the above referenced commissions owed.

If you are willing to accept the offered amount and the terms proposed, please hit the reply on this email keeping the history intact. Change the subject to “Publisher Settlement Acceptance” and copy/paste the acceptance statement below into your email, filling in the fields.

Upon receipt of the signed agreement, I will authorize payment of the settlement amount in full by 28 February 2016 via the method stipulated in your publisher account.

It is my sincere hope that we will be able to settle this account and avoid filing for bankruptcy, which would undoubtedly be a prolonged and costl y process.

I appreciate that you may have questions. Unfortunately, we will be operating with limited staff as we prepare for closure. We will do our best to respond to the extent possible and will do so in the order received. Our priority over the next few weeks will be processing settlement requests. At this time, there is no additional information to share.

I thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

Sincerely,

Lori James

All Romance Ebooks, LLC

Acceptance of Agreement:
I accept the terms of the attached proposed settlement on this date.

Signature:

Electronic Signature
The author’s sub mission of the information entered by selection of the submit button below shall constitute author’s signature signifying acceptance of this Agreement with the intent that it be valid for all purposes and in compliance with the U.S. Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act of 2000 and the laws of any other applicable jurisdiction.

Please note: This message is intended for use by the person or entity to which it is addressed. Please do not disseminate, distribute or copy. If you have received this message by error, please notify us immediately and destroy the related message. Re-disclosure without appropriate consent is prohibited.

Interesting. This is the same company that, as recently as last week, was putting together ads for Boxing Day sales, and contacted me for permission to sell my self-published ebooks at a discount during the sale. It’s also really interesting because half of it’s a scare tactic. Ten cents on the dollar for royalties? No, I don’t think so. That’s not how business is done. Additionally, “Re-disclosure without appropriate consent is prohibited” in what universe? You can bet your bippy I’m disclosing this, because you’re attempting to take advantage of numerous writers.

ARe used to be a good distribution channel. Now I’m wondering if the royalty statements I’ve received from them for the last year of sales are accurate, and I’m wondering what other chicanery is afoot. I am a little steamed at the moment, so I won’t unpack this further. Their website is crashing now, no doubt as publishers yank their books and customers attempt to use their credits and gift certificates (that they pushed before Christmas, not to mention the 2017 advertising they took money for) and in short, it’s a fucking mess.

Here’s my response to their ungenerous offer:

FROM: Lilith Saintcrow
TO: All Romance Ebooks
DATE: 28 December 2016 at 18:21
SUBJECT: Re: All Romance Closure
Dear Ms James,

I do NOT accept this “deal.” You will pay me the royalties you are legally obligated to. You will provide me with a reasonable schedule within which the whole of said royalties will be paid. And you will not, under any circumstances, threaten me again as the “re-disclosure is prohibited” rider is an obvious attempt to do so.

Sincerely,

Lilith Saintcrow

I doubt I’ll ever see any of those royalties, but I am not resigned.

ETA: AS OF 6:37PM Pacific time, I managed to get in and inactivate the three self-pubbed books I had at ARe for distribution. They haven’t been deleted so customers can go and make sure they’ve downloaded! Keep trying to get through, it took me about an hour to do so.