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.

Until My Heart Begs

GOOD MORNING.

Harmony is 95K, and it still will not die. I meant to spend November getting wordcount on Afterwar, but, um, it looks like the 50K I’m producing this month is going to this monster of story that will not lay down no matter how many times I stab it.

*time passes*

…I just sat here for a couple minutes, staring, fingers poised on the keyboard. I’m exhausted, most of my energy is going towards finishing this damn book, with a sizable portion of putting my money where my mouth is regarding resisting the fascism sweeping across America. This is a nightmare, and I am not resigned. However, you’ve seen that on my social media feeds. I’m not going to repeat it here, at least not today. I’m just too goddamn tired.

Today, I’m going to use some Focus and get this book closer to being finished. I’m going to take a few deep breaths and practice some self-care, because I am scraping the bottom of the barrel, energy-wise. I have a long run scheduled, which will hopefully renew some of my Zen. And, last but not least, I am going to tell my kids I love them, hug them, and reassure them. I suspect this last is most important of all.

So. *cracks knuckles* A few hundred words setting up this bringing-cult-leader-back-from-the-dead scene, then it’s out into the rain to run until my heart begs me to stop. Then run some more. Then it’s more writing.

Well, my day is sorted, I guess. Over and out.

Inconvenience Bigotry

wonder-woman

So. The popular vote elected our first woman president, but the electoral college will hand it to a racist orange malignant narcissist and his super-evil twopence piece who will, God help us, probably be doing the actual governing. Hatred has reaped a rich harvest. I am hoping its sowing methods are not sustainable and the ground will be exhausted ere long. Optimistic, maybe, but I have to believe that or I’ll go even madder than I already am.

In light of this, I have two things to say. (I have more, but two will suffice today.) The first is simply this:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Fred Rogers

I would add, when scary things are happening, be one of the helpers. If that means you practice self-care so you can be strong for others, great. If it means protesting, fine. If it means hugging everyone you love and committing afresh to daily kindness and decency, okay. You know best how to help in your own circumstances and life.

The second thing I have to say is for my fellow white people. Yes, I am talking to you. Sit up, pay attention. This is on us.

Do not be polite to bigotry anymore.

I’m hearing a lot of “come together” rhetoric right now. I’m hearing a lot of “part of my family is racist but I still have to see them at Thanksgiving.” Here’s the thing: you don’t have to lend yourself to hatred. You really don’t.

Racists often talk about how they’re “ostracized” for their “beliefs.” You know what? Good. Racism is ugly. Hatred is ugly, and it is not worth a whit of social acceptance.

When your elderly Fox-News-swallowing neighbor starts in with the coded dog whistles, walk away. When your family members make “Killary” jokes, make your disgust plain and walk away. When that guy on the bus is yelling at a PoC to “go back to where you came from” or “sit at the back of the bus”, say something. You don’t have to engage the asshole directly, but sitting next to the target of harassment and striking up a conversation about the weather, using your body language to shut the harasser out, can work wonders.[1] Let your face show how disgusted you are with that asshole. Make it clear their behaviour is absolutely repugnant.

One of my favourite things to say to assholes like that is simply, “Stop that. You know better.” Because they do.

Look, everyone is saying “the polling mechanisms are broken!” No, they’re not. What happened is simple: People know racism and hatred and Donald Trump are repugnant. They know. Having to say you support Trump while talking to a pollster is repellant. You could not believe yourself a good person and do that, and most people want to believe they’re good. (I could go on a rant about most people stopping at four on Kohlberg’s stages of moral development here, but I won’t.) In the voting booth, nobody is watching, and you can be as much of a shitheel bigot as you want to be.

Which is fine. I’m okay with the voting booth letting people show the aggregate ass-end of white supremacy. It’s not like anybody didn’t already know, and the right to vote cuts both ways. But out here in other spaces, we have the absolute right to be disgusted, and to show our disgust.

Let’s make racism so socially unacceptable that even their “polite” dogwhistles and little euphemisms are repellant. Let us make it clear how fucking loathsome bigotry and hatred are.

Now, I can hear some of the bigots whining already. That will make us a minority! You can’t pick on minorities! Nice strawman, try again. I am not advocating violence, simply clear disgust. I’m saying it needs to become the norm to treat bigotry, hatred, and harassment with the contempt it deserves in every social space. When it becomes an inconvenience and a moral and social cost to be a Turmpist “alt-right” asshole, less people will do it.

Why am I saying this directly to my fellow white people? Deploying our privilege to show everyone that this shit is not okay is on us. Getting up and pointedly leaving the room your racist Uncle Bill holds forth about building a wall and making Mexico pay for it is the least you can do for humanity. Using your privilege to shield the target of harassment on a bus or the street or in the workplace is a righteous act.

Maybe it’s just because I’m forty and I have little to no patience for bullshit. Maybe it’s because the field in which I grow my fucks is barren now, or maybe it’s because I have kids and I want the world I leave them to be a little better than I found it, or at least a little less hateful. Maybe it’s because I’m goddamn tired of people nodding and smiling and smoothing things over when some crepe-necked white man assaults everyone around who doesn’t look like him. Maybe it’s because I’m a fucking human being. I don’t care.

Do not give people a pass when they spout bigoted bullshit. Let them find out that hate is lonely and ugly. Let that truth inconvenience them. A very wise friend of mine is of the opinion that Americans don’t make a move until their convenience is threatened, and I think she’s right.

So let’s inconvenience the fuck out of bigotry, my friends. Because we know better.

[1] I can already hear a bunch of people saying, “But what if it’s unsafe?” Well, you’re the judge of that in the situation, fine. Do as your conscience and safety dictate.

Not Too Wild-Eyed

That moment, after a super intense period of stress, where your body takes revenge for the emotions, whatever repression you’ve done to manage the worst of them, and the nail-biting anxiety? That’s where I am. The Princess brought home a cold from work, and I put off getting sick until the gauntlet was finally run. I knew I was storing up trouble, but in classic Lili fashion, didn’t care.

*sigh* I give myself very good advice, sometimes don’t follow it, and often decide to just run the fuck through at full speed and worry about the bruises later.

The good news is…the stressful events are done. I am once again producing paid work for a publisher. Someone I love very much has passed on while in hospice care; he is in no more pain and I was able to see him before he went on that greatest of journeys. I am over the worst of the cold and can get back to running next week. The meds mean I’ve been sleeping, at least.

Now it’s just fallout to deal with. I retreated into a good 200 pages of the third volume in Shelby Foote’s Civil War narrative yesterday. A good fifty of those pages were lit with sunlight coming in the front window, so there was probably a little vitamin D in there. The cold is retreating, and I think I’ve probably cried all I’m going to for a little while. I’ve turned my email autoresponders on; whatever business is left over for the rest of this week can wait.

The kids are healthy, my sisters are in contact, the dogs are content, the cats are their usual selves and the cavy is monstrously fat and extremely active. Agent and editors seem to be happy enough with me, though I’ve been somewhat of a trial to them in the last month, I’m sure. The people I rely on to keep me on the straight and narrow tell me it’s fine, I’m not too wild-eyed.

I had to make an emergency trip to the PO box recently, and buy stamps from the automated kiosk there as well. It was after hours, and a woman who spoke little English was in distress, with something she had to mail. My fierce maternal instincts took over, and I went to work–grabbing an envelope, addressing it, putting her return address on it, popping enough stamps on it to cover the cost of the envelope AND the postage. We both had Google translate on our phones, and between that and gestures and babble, we solved the problem and got the thing into the mail for her.

I tell this story because I realized, when I got into my car–still in my pyjamas, having driven all the way over muttering to myself over having to leave the house at all when I felt like warmed-over crap–that I felt…better. Helping someone else is an anodyne, especially when one’s own life holds some unpleasantness. It feels good to pitch in, to help solve someone else’s problems or to simply listen to them and share the weight, knowing you’re relieving some of the pressure inside someone else just by being there.

It almost makes me pity people who lack empathy, because the dopamine hit from helping someone else out is so nice. I wonder if they just don’t feel that, and it baffles me. Doing the Right Thing, pitching in, helping where one can is one of the few surefire ways to ameliorate the black hole, at least for me.

All the way home from the post office, the sun peeked through clouds as it sank, and the light was golden. The crows were out, and they help too. They’re smart, strong survivors. I know the recent stress won’t break me, that the overwhelming feelings will pass, and that even the runny nose and annoying body aches will pass as well. It’s not comfortable, but I can get through it. That’s what forty has become for me: the consciousness that I’ve made it this far, that the feelings will pass through and away, and I’ll still be here when the wave is spent.

It’s enough.

A Path to Hope Again

burns01 So, 67K into Harmony, I understand that what the book needs is for me to rip out a lot of the unnecessary byroads and tighten up the timeline. This book has been an education in writing around the problem and finding out what the whole damn thing is about eighty percent of the way through, and I am so goddamn glad I’m not sending it in for publication. It’s a hot mess, and I’m going to spend this morning’s run deciding whether to go back and rip everything out OR finish it and another book during NaNo. Or, just finish it and use NaNo for half the first draft of Afterwar.

Choices, choices.

I’m pretty sure that the Harmony realization has a component of procrastination in it, too. Several factors are combining to give me a crushing crisis of confidence (try saying that ten times in a row) and last week was a blur of forcing myself to get out of bed, forcing myself to eat, forcing myself to shower daily. My normal response to debilitating depression and overwhelming anxiety is normally to work harder, to exhaust myself so I can finally sleep. It’s kind of a change to exhibit some of the more classic symptoms, and if not for the meds I suspect things would get much more dire. It’s so goddamn strange to know one is exhibiting the symptoms, to know that it’s dangerous, and to at the same time be so occupied with the simple work of breathing one does not care and cannot reliably summon the energy to do what one must.

Fortunately, the meds blunted the edge, and the habit of having no-one else to rely on prodded and forced me up and moving. I’m also aware that a relapse can happen just when one starts feeling the worst is over. Part of me speaking publicly about these struggles is demystification, normalization, and the plain acknowledgement that having a brain that tries to do you in with uneven chemical responses is not a personal failing. (It also helps for me to say it out loud, so to speak.) It is a Thing That Happens, no more and no less, and you are not weak or broken or stupid because it happens to you. You are struggling to survive in the face of a Thing That Happens, and that is a very human act.

So that’s my handing out sticks for the day. I’ll take one for myself, thank you. Next I have to let Miss B prod me out the door for a short run–my ankle is still tender, and she’s still trying to break the other one to make me lame on both sides, being a great fan of symmetry. But the exercise will do me good, it will take the edge off her fidgets, and I might find a path to hope again out there in the windy day that is making the trees dance.

Over and out.

Refuge In Any Place

Ramble roam

I’m back!

This past week was upsetting. Someone I love very much is in hospice care. Supporting others and struggling to remember to bathe, eat, and get out of bed has been eating up most of my emotional reserves this week.

More rambles in the wet woods are called for. Just to get out of the house and move. And more writing, even if I spend more time sitting and staring at squiggles on the screen, trying to remember they’re words. Seeking refuge in any place it may be found, whether inside my head or out among moss-covered rocks with Miss B.

Over and out.

Tired, Cranky, Sore

ugh The cold is fighting for supremacy inside my body; my immune system is hunting it down and just barely managing to stay on top. Consequently I’m tired, bloody cranky, and sore all over. I could only get four and a half running miles in yesterday, which irritated the life out of me. Even the returning rains aren’t managing to cheer me. Getting wordcount was like chipping marble with a toothpick, and to top it all off, I think I’m getting a detox effect from drinking a gallon of water a day. Even if it’ll help my body hose off all my mucus surfaces (that’s what snot does, really, pressure-washes your internal driveways) it’s still…itchy.

Super itchy. All over. Like stress hives–not as unpleasant, really, because my throat swells during those. But still annoying.

Despite all that, I made wordcount, and today’s prognosis is good even though I’m forced to take a day off running, again. At least the bees have stopped crawling out of my hair and cleavage since the weather is cooler, and the time I’d spend running will be spent producing additional words. So far I’m hoping to get the second half of Harmony done for NaNo–that’s 50K to add to the 50K I’ve already got–and at least getting a skeleton zero of the zombie apocalypse book before I have to shift completely to Afterwar. I’m not spending working time on the latter until the contract arrives, because if I’m going to kill myself working on a gigantic project, I need to be getting paid for the wear and tear on my nerves.

I mean, I’d write the trilogy anyway, but it would take a loooooong time fitting it around other projects. *sigh*

If you’re thinking all three of these seem longer than my usual run of zero drafts, you’re right. It appears the next step in my growth as a writer is attempting longer, more complex stories. 100K zero drafts instead of 60-70. I vacillate between “wow, this will be great” and “OH MY GOD LILI WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO YOURSELF STOP STOP IT NOW.” On the bright side, my agent is thrilled and happy. I guess that’ll have to be enough.

Time for me to shuffle to the kitchen and make some herbal tea for my throat, and fill up my water glass. I want to drown this cold quickly so I can get back to running tomorrow. I’m twitchy from not enough sweat, and added to the full nose and raw throat, it’s making me snappish. Which is good for tormenting my characters, but hardly pleasant out in meatspace.

Over and out.