Yesterday I was out of commission for a variety of reasons. Today I’m back on the horse while recovering–well, sort of. Sort of back on the horse, not sort of recovering. Recovery is going just fine.

Argh. I can already tell stringing words together is going to be fun today.

I’m at that stage with a new series–too far into the first book to back out, not far enough along that I can see that I have a chance at finishing it–where every single word I put down seems wrong. The world the characters inhabit is opening up, slowly but surely, and everything I wrote up until I felt the first click in the lock of the story seems dead wrong. It’s not, it will just need tweaking. The biggest danger now is going back and getting caught in the death spiral of reworking the beginning so many times one doesn’t finish the rest of the damn book. Which I frankly can’t afford.

I know the solution is just to push through, that this is a part of the process, that I go through this every time, that it will get better as I gain momentum. Unfortunately, all the calm soothing self-talk in the world will not make the feeling of panic any smaller. The only thing that will help is lowering my head and diving right through. Maybe I’m a freak, I don’t know. I just know that the process does not grow any easier. It grows more tolerable with experience, but not easier.

There might be a lesson in that. *sigh* Maybe it builds character or something. When I build enough character, maybe I won’t feel like tearing my hair out and weeping when I start a new series. Won’t that be nice.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

So I had an odd weekend. Well, I take that back. I had an odd Saturday night; the rest of the weekend was pretty ho-hum.

I helped box the leftovers from a library sale for Cover to Cover Saturday afternoon, then headed home. As I drove past the liquor store near my house I saw the first intimation that tonight was going to be One Of Those Nights. There was a line.

Out the door.

Of the liquor store.

Now, this sometimes happens at New Year’s, or the Fourth of July. Or pretty much any time there’s a holiday and the locals need sedation or lowered inhibitions. See, down in Portland they’re pretty classy when they drink. (Well, mostly.) Out here in semi-rural Vantucky, we’re more like, hmm, how do I put it? Well, we’re kind of like Portland’s trashy older sister. The one with the jeggings, blue eyeshadow, and the perpetual can of Coors. Normally I like that about this part of town–there’s not a lot of pretension.

Sometimes, though, it gets weird.

So I got home, intending to lock my doors, pull the shades, and just let the neighborhood stew in its own inebriation. As a matter of fact, I was sitting at my desk, looking out my writing window onto the street, fooling around a little bit on Twitter, when…look, I’ll just post the tweets, okay?

When the liquor store has a line out the door, you know it’s time to go home and lock your doors. #holdme

Plus: naked man in wheelchair rolling down my street. When did this become a college town? #littleconfused

I just…I did NOT need to see that. *sigh*

So there I was, about to pull the shades in the living room even though it was still sunny. And then.

Read the rest of this entry » )

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( May. 6th, 2011 02:55 pm)

I was out earlier today with my writing partner; we pillaged a local Powell’s. (We looked for Genevieve Valentine’s new book, didn’t find it, will have to order it.) I scored a book on the Beast of Gevaudan, which I actually happy-danced in the aisle over. So I’m late getting to the table today, so to speak, which is a shame because I have a veritable garden of Friday links for you.

* First, the shameless self-promotion: I’m over at SmartPop with an interview. There’s an excerpt from Defiance there too, and on Monday there will be a giveaway.

* Look, it’s not just me who has trouble with squirrels. I’m just sayin’. (Hat tip to Elaine Corvidae for the link.)

* A peek inside famous authors’ homes. Honestly, I expected the Hemingway one to have more booze. But I suppose Papa wouldn’t have left any behind, now would he. Also? Norman Mailer was freaky. But I guess we all knew that.

* The Rude Pundit (hint: don’t click if you can’t take adult language) is looking for stories. No, not that sort of stories. If you or your kids have been damaged by the public education system, he wants to hear about it. Go tell him.

* Speaking of damage by the public education system, gee. How about getting a whole town to beat up on a rape victim? That’s got to be some sort of record.

Just how lacking in compassion does somebody have to be to humiliate a teenage cheerleader in front of the community instead of speaking with her in private with an advocate present? A team of psychiatrists has done work with brain scans trying to determine whether psychopaths are physiologically different from normal people. One thing they note about psychopaths is that they understand right from wrong but have no empathy for their victims. Forget about Silsbee or the Hardin County criminal justice system ever holding any of the people who retaliated against the victim accountable.

I had an exchange with a reporter for The Silsbee Bee in which he was vigorously defensive about how the outside world had, in his view, so unfairly criticized Silsbee. He claimed to have seen the case file in its entirety, and also claimed that anybody who saw that file would stop criticizing Silsbee. I told him to publish the whole file on The Silsbee Bee site. He stopped responding. Do not hold your breath expecting residents of Silsbee to examine their consciences and then to clean out the stinking cesspools that make up their collective moral sense. (

…Yeah. If this makes you sick, it should. If this makes you angry, it should. It’s still not safe to be female pretty much anywhere on the globe. Half of humanity, the mothers and sisters and daughters all around you, have to deal with shit like this, even in fricking America. Just think about that for a little while, I dare you.

* And in case the above story makes you want to go postal, here’s some cute puppies. Get that blood pressure down before you decide what to do.

See you on Monday…

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( May. 5th, 2011 08:55 am)

I’m getting an avalanche of mail about Reckoning, the fifth and final of the Strange Angels series. Yes, it is the last book, and it will be out in November 2011. I am glad you guys don’t want to see the last of Dru, but her story will be finished then. I am hard at work on other books now, other characters are getting their chance to have their stories told. I may conceivably, at some point, return to Dru’s world–there’s a Maharaj girl who very much wants her story told–but that depends on so many factors right now, it’s just pie-in-the-sky and may never happen.

I’m also getting an avalanche of mail with “PLEASE REPLY” and various permutations thereof sprinkled liberally in caps throughout. Guys, I wish I could reply to each and every one of you. It pains me that I can’t. It’s just not physically possible. I do read everything you send me, though. Every single word, praise or hatred, does pass under my gaze. If many of you have the same question, I answer it here.

One of the questions I get a lot is whether I “like” Graves or Christophe “better for Dru.” I like some things about Graves–his loyalty, his ironic sense of humor, how he rolls with the punches of finding out about the Real World–and I dislike some things, like his inability to tell Dru how he feels and his maddening habit of making assumptions. I like some things about Christophe, like his brains and his determination to protect Dru; I dislike some things, like his creepy factor and his unwillingness to tell Dru things he feels are unnecessary. Neither of them are great boyfriend material, though I can see why Dru likes them both. In her position, at her age, I would like both of them too. But if Dru was my daughter, I’d encourage her to realize she doesn’t need either of them to be a complete human being. She’s already complete just within herself.

Another giant group of questions I’m getting ask in one way or another if I will post excerpts from Reckoning. I do not want to, and I probably will not. I don’t want to tease. If my editor thinks it truly necessary or even just a very good idea, I’ll consider it.

Last but not least, I’ve been getting a swamp-full of questions involving possible movies etc. Guys, I can’t make a movie out of any of my books. I do not have the deep pockets of a production company. We haven’t had an offer for any of the film rights for any of my books. There’s been interest, sure, but in this type of affair, it’s not definite until the check has cleared. (When dealing with Hollywood, this is always the safest bet.) I have very little control over whether or not there is a movie. If that ever changes, it will be posted here on the FAQ.

There are other questions I’ve been getting, but none I can answer here. I do read them all, even the hate mail. Thank you for writing; I wish I could answer more.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

I’m over at Bitten By Books today, along with the rest of the crew from the Those Who Fight Monsters anthology. There’s a contest, too, tempty-tempty.

Now for the not-so-pleasant. Oh, tax time. You know, as a single mother, maybe I shouldn’t be penalized so heavily. And really, if I have to pay this amount in taxes, why can’t I have better schools? Better roads? And universal health care? Oh, that’s right–because I exist only at the pleasure of the corporations who are people now. And because the super-rich have managed to ram through a budget that cuts social safety nets to ribbons so they can feed the war machine. We can afford wars, but we can’t afford to relieve some poverty. The commie poor might get ideas above their station, after all.

I wouldn’t mind paying goddamn taxes if the cash was spent on infrastructure, education, and a social safety net instead of corporate welfare and the goddamn war machine. Oh, don’t mind me, I’m just bitter. Jesus. ANYWAY.

It’s a nice day, sunny and beautiful. I’m shifting between Bannon & Clare and a separate project I can’t announce yet. (So exciting.) Miss B., after a morning walk in which she was absolutely full of all sorts of vinegar and baking soda, is now sacked out at my feet and evinces absolutely no desire to go outside. This will change once the Little Prince comes home from school, I fancy.

One of the things I’m struggling with while writing now is just how much verite to put into a sort of alternate-historical fantasy. I am playing fast and loose with Londinium and with history. No doubt there will be a great deal of screaming. No actual cities are ever harmed in the making of these books, but plenty of electrons are terribly inconvenienced, to mashup a phrase.

Anyway, it’s time to turn to the Sekrit Projekt and do some pen and paper work. I can barely sit still, it’s so exciting. This is another Year Of Doing Things I’ve Never Done Before, and I’m terrified enough to think it’s grand fun. Off I go to get into more trouble…

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Mar. 11th, 2011 10:08 am)

* First off, a collection of links on how to help after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Plus, emergency numbers and live reports.

* This week’s writing post (Habit and Ritual) was on Wednesday. I am putting together ideas for a new podcast episode. Now’s the time to get your questions in!

* Interesting article on Ayn Rand. I always wonder, when reading about Rand, how coverage or criticism would be different if she was male. But that’s a question/rant for another day.

* Let’s not forget that Governor Scott Walker and the Republicans in Wisconsin have basically given the finger to working families with a series of shenanigans. The cynic in me says that now that the bill is signed, the mainstream media will move on and shove more Charlie Sheen and disaster pr0n down our throats and hope we forget all about it. Let’s hope I’m wrong. Also, Peter King’s hypocritical McCarthyite witch hunt, America isn’t broke, and Murder City just over our border.

Today I have to get some work done, so I’m signing off and turning off the Internet connection. I just can’t handle any more. Have a safe weekend out there, dear Readers.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Just a few thoughts today, since true to form, the feast part of “feast or famine” has just hit and I’ve more work than even I know what to do with. This is a happy state of affairs, however, and one I wish to continue. So it’s time to put my head down and chew away at the problems one at a time.

* on Outdated, Stodgy Ivory-Tower Attitudes That Cripple Writers:

But, if you’re a writer who wants to be taken seriously by your peers? Then you’d better not do a damn thing other than put words on paper. And you certainly better not expect to earn any income from it. And in some ways, we hinder our own profession with that antiquated notion.

Yes, you have the choice to maintain complete focus on your writing if that is what you choose to do with your career. Take the Cormac McCarthy or JD Salinger route. Be “pure” and “unsullied.” That is a perfectly reasonable and respectable decision.

But don’t criticize another writer for diversification. (

I wrote my Hack Manifesto partly in response to this. I also wrote the Speshul Snowflake Bedtime Story partly in response to this dynamic. We have this ongoing assumption that writers don’t deserve to get paid for what they do, maybe because every fricking celebrity or chef can “write a book.” There is very little understanding of the hard cold fact that bringing an actual book (as opposed to a celebrity PR exercise) from original idea/inception to finished product is WORK. Lots of work, plenty of it thankless and drudging.

I’ve grown to hate it when people say, after finding out I write for a living, “Oh, that’s neat. I’ve always wanted to write a book. When I have time someday.” The assumption is that all they have to do is sit down and vomit up a few thousand unconnected letters, sentences, and paragraphs, and fame and fortune will inevitably result. I know they mean well, and I know they have no bloody idea. But I often want to reply, “What do you do? Oh, you’re a dentist? I’ve always wanted to come to a dentist’s office one day when I have time and mess around with the drills. How hard can it be?” I almost always restrain myself, and content myself with quietly pointing out that it’s hard work and I’ve been doing it for years, and only recently (by the grace of Steve, no doubt) have reached a place where it provides a decent, if not terribly steady, income.

The Slushpile’s point is slightly different, of course; I’ve yet to attend a group of writers where the implicit assumption that if you make money you’re not very good or dedicated or truly deserving to be called an artist doesn’t rear its ugly head at least once in some way. This assumption, that artists don’t deserve and shouldn’t sully themselves with cold hard cash, is endemic in our society. Personally, I blame the Puritans and their “anything that is a luxury is SINFUL, and writing is a LUXURY so it is SINFUL FRIPPERY” attitude.

Perhaps it’s just knowing what side my bread is buttered on, but I agree with Mario Vargas Llosa that writing, literature, etc., is not a luxury:

They earn my pity not only because they are unaware of the pleasure that they are missing, but also because I am convinced that a society without literature, or a society in which literature has been relegated–like some hidden vice–to the margins of social and personal life, and transformed into something like a sectarian cult, is a society condemned to become spiritually barbaric, and even to jeopardize its freedom. I wish to offer a few arguments against the idea of literature as a luxury pastime, and in favor of viewing it as one of the most primary and necessary undertakings of the mind, an irreplaceable activity for the formation of citizens in a modern and democratic society, a society of free individuals. (Mario Vargas Llosa)

I’m not saying I’m George Orwell or anything. But a vibrant literature holds a place for me to make a living, and my refusal to give anything less than my best to any project I sign a contract for is my implicit and explicit agreement with my Readers. From that agreement we both draw strength and sustenance. It’s bloody hard work that I do with a song in my heart because I believe it’s important.

* Stacia Kane approaches this from a slightly different direction in a wonderful essay:

But I do think there’s a weird kind of pressure on genre fiction writers to not let on that they see themselves or think of themselves as artists. There’s a definite pressure to act like their art means nothing to them, like it’s an entity completely separate from them.

Think of it this way. If a painter has a gallery show, and a critic ravages his work, does anyone frown and kick up a fuss if the artist gets upset about it? Does anyone remind him that reviews don’t exist to make him feel better, but to inform art lovers whether or not his work is worth their time? Not as far as I know. People expect the artist to be upset about terrible reviews. They expect him to be temperamental; hell, we all know what the phrase “artistic temperament” means, don’t we?

Now, I am NOT, absolutely NOT, implying in any way that reviewers don’t have the right to say whatever they want about books, or that reviews aren’t for readers and not writers–they absolutely are–or that writers should be allowed to freak out all over the internet and threaten people or name crack whore characters after people who gave them bad reviews or whatever. No, no, no, I’m not saying that at all, not one bit; you all know how I feel about that. This post isn’t about reviewers or reviews, except insomuch as they can be another example of what I feel is the expectation that genre fiction writers not consider themselves artists, not think or talk about themselves as artists, and not act as though their art is important to them. Like caring about your work has become synonymous somehow with freak-out rants and threats, instead of just…caring about your work. I’m not implying in any way that this sort of pressure comes solely from reviewers or readers, either; it comes from other writers just as much if not more. (Stacia Kane)

The implicit assumption that genre is filthy, “disposable”, and that only the idiotic hoi polloi read it as escapism is just as damaging as the assumption that artists don’t deserve to get paid. And you can tell just where I like to suggest people stick both those assumptions.

Later in the essay, Kane asks “We’re all so worried about being professional, about being easy to work with and seeing our work as a commodity and ourselves as commodities and all of that…have we become so focused on publishing as a business that we’ve forgotten about the magic of it?”

Which I think hits the nail squarely on the head. There is magic. The writer’s job is to show up consistently to help that magic birth itself, in a variety of ways. The reader plonks down hard cold cash because they like, want, and need the magic. Both invest time (in the form of money or effort) in the magic, and both get a reward from it. The difference is the writer’s reward is often implicitly denigrated, or it’s even suggested that the writer deserves no reward at all because they should be Just Doin’ It For The Arte And The Luv.

I don’t like this. For obvious reasons, I think it’s unfair. I’m not going to lose a lot of sleep or cry into my coffee over it, but neither do I have to put up with any shit over it. It’s about the best one can do in this situation.

* Which is why I love Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and think it’s so valuable. Cameron unpacks this dynamic and the various ways the stereotype of the self-destructive artist and the idea that art is a useless frippery are both used, by artists and against them. And if you want a productive long-term career in the arts you could do a lot worse than the exercises she suggests for catching that dynamic and kicking it in the balls before it messes up your head, your workspace, or your life.

That’s pretty much all I have today. Now I’ve got to turn my attention to Perry and Jill and some very interesting implications of gifts and imputed obligation. Plus there’s the structure of the Essay of DOOOOOM to rip apart and put back together, and a couple edit letters to plug into and start thinking about. Never rains but it pours.

All else aside, I’m very happy about that.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Rock climbing classes for the kids start this week. My own class got pushed back to May for some reason. Oh well. Plus there’s a trip to the dentist in my future. Fortunately the dentist’s office understands about My Issues: “Tell me what you’re going to do before you do it. Keep me updated. If there is a chance of it hurting, warn me. If I lift my left hand or wave, stop and tell me what you’re doing. I find this stressful and this will make it easier for both of us.”

You know, once you start setting boundaries it just never stops. *snort*

I’m also trying out a new workspace, sitting on an exercise ball instead of cross-legged in the CHAIR. We’ll see if that ameliorates some of the pain issues I’ve been having. Changing around the workspace is a good way for me to really prove I can write whenever, wherever. So, we’ll see.

Also, I am considering a Mac for my next laptop. I hear good things about them. So, if The Great Interwebs can answer a few questions, I’d be grateful.

1. How’s the keyboard action on a Mac? I love my current Asus, but the keyboard really leaves a little to be desired.
2. Does MSOffice work okay on Mac? I love Word and Excel and don’t want to change to a new word-processing program. Specifically, does Word on Mac have trouble opening .docx files?
3. Is it worth the initial price? I mean, do they last longer than PC laptops?
4…oh, there is no 4. I guess it’s just three questions. Comments and answers appreciated.

Also, I am a bit silly from a late night last night. Nothing dire, just up chatting with a friend. Wrenching my schedule back to normality from the chaos of Spring Break (most days I slept in until *gasp* 9AM! Unheard-of, I know!) is predictably making me a little goony today. If you see me on Twitter, it’s probably going to be goofiness. You’ve been warned.

Last but not least, can I please write one short story that doesn’t require three or four effing starts thrown out before I get something usable? I’m under deadline here, Muse. Kthxbai.

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When you get up at 6AM with a whole week’s worth of to-do collapsed into a single day…everything turns into a blur. Especially when you’ve been awake half the night stressed out about All The Things You’ve Decided To Do Today. I was up pretty early this morning, and I got everything accomplished. My list, which looked like a mad scientist’s scratchpad, has EVERYTHING crossed off. If I wasn’t so damn tired I’d go get myself a glass of wine to celebrate. Unfortunately the wine would put me straight into a coma.

So I’m just checking in with a couple of quick things.

* To Reader Shelly H.: your letter made me cry. It’s those types of letters that get me through and remind me why I’m doing this on days when I’m deluged by bad reviews or deadline panic, revision hell or Muse bonbon shortage. Thank you for taking the time to write. You really made my day. Hell, my month. Keep swinging, kid. I’m right there with you.

I do read every piece of fanmail you guys send. I can’t respond much (if at all) because of Deadline and Life Pressure. I know you guys understand because you tell me you do, often in the the first paragraph. I do read and treasure–and in some cases, reread–your letters. Thank you so much for writing to me. You’re all awesome.

* I’ve signed myself and the kids up for a rock-climbing basics class in April. (The Krav Maga place was always closed when I went by to check it out. Oh well!) It’ll teach belaying for me, and other stuff for the small ones. They’re absolutely thrilled. I hadn’t realized we had TWO community centres with indoor rock walls in Vancouver. (The mind boggles.) Plus there are other ones in Portland.

However, I know next to naught about climbing. I’ll be climbing indoors for the foreseeable future. Reader TJ Tradekraft (hi TJ!) has already given me some great advice, and if anyone else around here is a climber, feel free to advise me in comments or drop me an email. Yes, I am actually asking for advice. Don’t look surprised, I do this all the time.
I’m looking for stuff like:

what to look for in a good climbing wall
what to look for in a good instructor
general safety tips
general comfort tips (like TJ says, “tape your fingers!”)
general advice

That about covers it. I’ve got dinner cooking and some wordcount to get in so today is a total win instead of a qualified win. I suspect I’ll feel better with more food in me; lunch was good but it was hours ago.

Whew. Off I go…

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Cross-posted to the Deadline Dames, a year old and still going strong.

I can definitively state I AM NOT MY CHARACTERS.

Most of them–Danny and Jill spring immediately to mind for some reason–come from a pretty dark place. Others, not so much. I’ve had some scary experiences in my life (and something tell me I will have still more, life being what it is.) Some of those scary experiences are fuel. Others are just…there. They don’t go into books, they’re too personal. I have to come to terms with them in other ways.

Using the fuel of scary experiences can be good. It can help you process, it can help you deal. There are several different types of artistic fuel, however, and getting hooked on one to the exclusion of all others is a chancy proposition. Art does not live by one fuel alone–and trying to make it can have bad effects on you.

Case in point? Well, me. I’m in a state of highly personal, highly charged change right now. Some of the fuel I was using while I was miserable five years ago, or two years ago, or six months ago is no longer around. I don’t have that whip to push myself on. I am, to put it bluntly, afraid that if I get healthier or happier I will no longer be able to peer into those dark places or face them with the courage needed to pull those characters out of the shadows.

Most of me knows this is silly. As someone wise recently told me, “Those miseries were ways you had of coping and surviving. They worked to keep you whole and protect you. They’ll still be there if you need them again.” I know it’s true–I can put them back in my toolbox and get them out if I need them.

But, dear Reader…I’m scared. I’m scared the characters won’t talk to me if we don’t have the pain-points in common. I’m terrified that I’m a one-trick pony. I’m scared that getting healthier and happier will change something in my makeup and send me spinning and careening off into the woods, where my career will die a lonely death and I’ll end up hungry on the street.

I know it’s not rational. I know I’m feeling this because change is inherently frightening. When you add personal change to the cauldron of insecurities writing can and does uncover, it’s about as comfortable as bathing in a tub full of very angry cobras.

So how do you get through? How do you reassure yourself the words will still be there even if you change?

I suppose a simple answer is faith, with a large helping of stubbornness. I did not get to where I am today by listening to the fear or letting the rejection stop me. The words have been there during every other damn change in my life; this one just feels different because I’m suffering it OMGNOW! Time will add a measure of perspective that will drain my panic.

None of this helps with the agony of indecision, fear, and agitation I am experiencing, yea even at this very moment.

Which gives me hope. Over the course of a book, I take people apart. I feel their agonies while I whack away every single solid thing they rely on and put them through the wringer. They risk everything because they have no choice. It’s who they are, and living requires the courage to do no less.

I guess we’re not so different, my characters and me. Which brings me to my bone-deep stubbornness again. If they can make it through everything I can throw at them, I can make it through this. Jill would set her chin, glare out of her mismatched eyes, and stride forward. Danny’s thumb would caress the katana’s guard, and she’d wear that little half-smile. Kaia would grin and brace herself. Even Theo, the calmest and sweetest person I’ve ever written, would fold her arms and get that determined little glint in her eye.

No, they’re not (and never will be) me. But the strength to write them is and always has been mine. If I’ve lost the fuel of misery I’ll find something else to burn. If I’ve kept the fire going this long, I’ll likely find something else to throw on it. I have to trust–not my gods, not my characters, not other people. I have to trust in my own willingness to let the words come through me. I have to trust that I’m still interesting even when I’m not broken. That this will only make me stronger and better.

I’m not my characters. They can still teach me something. And I can look back on creating them and know there’s no shortage. Remember? My job isn’t to make the magic. My job is to show up every day.

I can do that. No matter how scared I am.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Writing takes emotional and physical energy. And time.

This means you have to prioritize time and energy if writing is something you want to do. One of the biggest mistakes I see novice or unpublished (not necessarily the same thing!) writers committing is trying to fit writing in the same way you fit in bathroom breaks. Or not quite, because writing doesn’t have the same biological urgency a full bladder does. (At least, not for most people.)

Plenty of novices/unpublished writers get to the end of their day job, go home, deal with Home Stuff, and find themselves staring at a blank screen. Then they panic, because the words don’t come flying out. The negative self-talk starts.

I can’t do this. I’m a loser. I’ll never get published. This is too hard.

And before you know it, they stop writing, or they get frustrated and spend their limited energy bitching, or they end up surfing the Internet. (Not that I’ve ever, um, personally…oh look! Shiny object! Look!)

Julia Cameron, in The Artist’s Way, talks about “filling the well”. Creating stuff takes energy, you need to build up a store of that energy. It’s the same principle Judith Beck talks about when she says you have to set aside priority and energy for lifestyle changes. “If you had to make time for a lifesaving medical procedure three times a day, you would.”

I often talk about making writing a priority. It needs to be important enough to you that you can arrange some bits of your life to make sure you have the energy and time to Do It.

Dr. Beck suggests making three columns on a piece of paper: necessary, highly desirable, and desirable activities. Then you list the things that you do on a daily basis–if you spend time doing it, write it down on a separate sheet. Then go through, one by one, and figure out how important each one is to you. Activities that are “necessary” get first priority, activities that are “highly desirable” need to be examined to see just how desirable they REALLY are. Activities that are merely “desirable” can be scaled back.

Then, list the hours of the day, from the time you get up from the time you go to bed, on another sheet of paper. Work out a schedule that gives you time for all the necessary things. You can add some highly desirable things too. Don’t be afraid to erase and change things around.

I know a lot of people don’t have the luxury of having writing be their Day Job. I know a lot of people hold down two jobs and raise kids. I know this isn’t really as simple as I’m making it sound. The point here is not “you’re weak for not scheduling your time right.” The point here is “YOU DESERVE TO DO THINGS THAT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD.” If writing is one of those things, and writing for publication is your goal, then you need to shift some other things–like Internet surfing or what-have-you–to make room and energy for it. And you have the absolute right to say, “I need some time to myself to make these things happen.”

I often say that a kitchen timer is a writer’s best friend. I’ve often set mine and told everyone in my house, “When that rings, you can have my attention again. In the meantime, unless someone’s bleeding or dying, leave me be.” And I stuck to that. I successfully enforced that boundary because I had to–if I didn’t make deadline, I wouldn’t get paid, and my kids wouldn’t eat. That was a hell of a motivation.

As I’m learning to set other boundaries (it’s taken me a while, but better late than never, right?) I’m finding out that making time for writing is a skill I have to constantly practice. I get distracted by People Who Neeeeeeeed Me, or by shiny things, or by things that aren’t precisely a priority but I get wrapped around the axle about anyway. I have to constantly remind myself that sitting down for the words, making time and energy so I can do these things, is non-negotiable. So, take heart: it’s not the sort of skill you get once and then forget about. It’s a constant process, and you can start taking steps toward it at any time. You can refine it at any time, add to it, find out new and better ways to make it work for you.

All right, dear Reader, now we get to the question part of today’s post. How do you make time for writing or other Important Stuff? What works for you? I’m always on the lookout for new strategies, and this is the sort of information that makes more happiness the more it’s shared. So what do you do? Don’t be shy, tell me.

After all, I need all the help I can get.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jan. 4th, 2010 08:30 am)

The first day back from a vacation and already I’m looking at the pile of work in front of me and feeling like…oh, weeping would be an alternative, wouldn’t it? No, of course not. And besides, I worked all the way through vacation, so it’s not so bad. True, I did put some things on the docket for the first week back because, well, it was supposed to be the holidays. So, today and tomorrow are for short stories and wordcount.

Since it is the first day back, I should take this opportunity to answer a few questions. Yes, I do read all the mail my Readers send me. I can only respond via email rarely. If enough people ask a question, I answer it here or put it on the FAQ.

Let’s see:

* A few of you asked when the next Jill Kismet is out. I don’t know precisely yet. I do know that it’s in the revision process, and as soon as I have more concrete information I’ll update the site and announce it. Fear not, there are two more Jill books forthcoming.

* Many of you are intrigued by the words “Latin self-study”. It’s like juggling more chainsaws; I’ve had some luck with it but not much. More than finding a Latin class in my area that doesn’t require an hour of driving either way, that’s for sure. For those of you interested, I recommend Wheelock’s, and also Artes Latinae. Rosetta Stone also has a good program, if a bit spendy.

* Loyal reader TP recently asked this very interesting question:

Why read at readings? Yes, the name of the event answers the question but really, why is it that you, or any other author, must read passages from the book (doesn’t it get boring?)? I have always thought that reading a book is immersing oneself into a new universe but seen and heard through the filter of one’s own mind. Hearing the author reading does neither good nor ill to that universe, I just haven’t found that it adds much to it (then again, I have gone to perhaps only 4 in my life, one in which the author didn’t read but just talked to and with us). From your end, as the author, does reading passages do something for both you and your interaction with the audience that I’m missing?

The short answer: I don’t know, I do what the bookstores (who are kind enough to invite me) ask me to do.

The longer answer: I think it does add something, and I’ve been asked by fans to read a certain chapter and do a podcast. (When I get a microphone, editing software, and some time, yeah. I love you guys, but the actual writing comes first.) Yes, reading the book invites you into the universe the writer has created, you can experience it through the filter of your own mind. On the other hand, your experience of that universe can be deepened and enriched by hearing where the author places emphasis. I’ve had people tell me they came away with a new understanding after listening to me read, especially from the Valentine books. (Hearing me “channel” Japh’s sardonic, flat tone is apparently hilarious.)

Then again, I enjoy reading aloud. I’ve done it a lot and sometimes I’ll read a sentence aloud a few times to get a handle on emphasis and pace. Being taught to stop at punctuation marks and to look for the natural “breathing points” in poetry or lines delivered onstage is far from the worst experience one can have when looking for hitches in the smooth reel of the written word.

Oddly enough, the things I’m most asked at events are either spoileriffic, or about aspects of the world I’ve thought about but couldn’t cram in the books because of space considerations, or about the act of writing itself. I think a lot of people view writing as a sort of Black Arte and are looking for the turn. The actual process is fascinating. It just becomes normal when one does it every day.

Hm. Long answer is long. But I found it a very, very interesting question. I’ve fallen into doing readings because bookstores ask me to, and I’ve found I enjoy them a bit. Except for the parts where I want to pause and correct/revise something on the page. ARGH.

And that’s all that I’m fit to blog today. I have a hot date with breakfast and some coffee, since I’m up anyway. Good luck out there.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Dec. 14th, 2009 01:14 pm)

It is my firm opinion that every major life change deserves a major hair change. Therefore, I have gone back to my natural color.

This comes as a shock to anyone who’s seen me, but I am actually blonde. Born that way. I got so tired of blonde jokes and the like that as soon as I could, I started dyeing my hair. The dyes grew progressively darker and darker until I was consistently black-haired. You know, most people want to bleach their hair out to blonde, but not me. I wanted to get as far away from platinum as possible.

But that requires some upkeep, and I’m in a transition phase right now. So, I’m going back to blonde. I can now handle the next person who makes a blonde joke with an icy stare or an application of violence. (Verbal only, I don’t have time for fistfights. Not anymore.)

It’s weird to see my natural haircolor again. It’s even weirder to apply eyeliner and put on mascara and look like a blonde in mascara. I’m just not used to seeing anything other than dark hair. Which is kind of how I feel about a lot of things nowadays–I look at them, and they seem different because I’m different. I’ve come out the other side, and am now standing bloody but bandaged, not to mention unbowed, and looking at the battlefield behind me.

I don’t yet know if I’m ready for the armistice and the work of peace. But I do know I’m tired of the explosions.

Wow, I just ran that metaphor right into the ground, didn’t I. I keep touching my hair in disbelief, and looking at a stranger’s face in the mirror. She’s usually wearing a pained half-smile, as if she can’t believe it either. She’s changing even more quickly than I am. Or at least, it looks like it.

Anyway, no more hair dye for a while. I’ll see how it shakes out. Now I’ve got copyedits, line edits, and wordcount to get done today. *cracks knuckles* At least that doesn’t change.

Thank God.

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There’s an interview with me over at A Good Addictions, where I talk more about process and what Graves’s original name was. I have a couple other interviews to finish and send off today. I have a cup of tea from the bagel shop, my handwarmers are on, and I’m wearing two sweaters. I sincerely hope I don’t have to go anywhere else today. I’ve frozen and thawed about four times already today.

Now, if you’re the squeamish sort, or if you feel threatened by the female body, this post is not for you. *settles into Librarian Mode* We’ll be talking about menstruation and half-vampires. You’ve been warned.

Reader Kayle A. sent me this question not too long ago:

Hi a couple of us just got done reading Betrayls and we loved it but we have a big question. In the book you said that Dru’s blood is like amazing and it drives the djamphir crazy well we were wondering what happens when Aunt Flo visits Dru ya know like when she gets her period?

This is an interesting question, and one I’ve given a fair amount of thought to. Because a half-vampire girl in a school full of half-vampire boys is going to have to solve this problem somehow, or at least the writer of this zany little series is going to have to consider this question and whether to address it.

So far the timeline’s been pretty compressed and Dru hasn’t had to worry about her period–she’s very irregular until she blooms, although I don’t know that anyone has ever come out and told her that. In the book I’m writing now, a werwulfen girl (provisionally named Nathalie and very loosely based on my hairdresser friend C.) answers some of Dru’s questions. This might be one of them, because it amuses me mightily to think of the comic value in such a scene.

Yes, I am a very odd person with a macabre, ironic, and very odd sense of humor.

Basically, when Dru’s on the rag, she absolutely has to use tampons instead of pads. If you consider that djamphir (and wulfen) have very acute senses, including smell, the problem is going to be when blood hits the air. Keeping it from doing so as much as possible is a Good Idea. Of course they’re going to be able to smell her hormonal drift when she’s menstruating, too. So Dru’s just going to have to be a little careful. Since she was supposed to be in classes with individual tutors instead of in the general population with a crowd of boys, it’s not a huge deal. Other than the embarrassment factor of having everyone KNOWING you’re on your rag; but (here I’m going to be honest) when I was her age I felt like everyone could tell anyway. That may or may not have been the case, which raises some interesting questions of perception vs. reality in high school.

I know. This isn’t fair. Biology isn’t fair. Oh well.

However, for Dru and her fellow djamphir, the real problem only comes during combat, when there’s already heightened emotions and a less control for all concerned. Bleeding during a fight is not the same as bleeding once a month.

One of the “rules” of the world I’ve built is that “blooming” is a marker of maturity, the last physical “gate” before the half-vampire’s body settles into the form it will take until “the night hunts them down”, as Bruce (you haven’t met him yet) so memorably puts it. An irregular menstruation while some of the initial biochemical changes are taking place is reasonable, and certain other physical changes will become evident as Dru blooms. Boys get to accomplish their blooming (for them it’s called “hitting the drift”) all at once, and generally earlier than girls. They’re built to be fighters, and the earlier, quicker drift helps them. Svetocha, well…they do have to think about breeding, so their bodies are a little different. Nature gives them an evolutionary edge–becoming toxic to nosferat–at the same time it gives them a sometimes-fitful blooming, the capacity to breed, and all its attendant problems.

Again, biology isn’t fair. And this is a fine metaphor for the stew of hormones kids find themselves in, as well as the difficulty of negotiating the terrain of approaching maturity in our society. It’s less fair for girls than it is for boys. Temptation abounds, many adults won’t answer reasonable questions or try to stop schools from educating teens about their bodies and hormones. The risks of pregnancy and disease, the double standard, social confusion…these are things that are borne more heavily by girls than boys. No, biology is not fair, and life isn’t either.

This brings up something kind of important. When you build a world, it needs to be internally consistent. If you don’t have reasons for things you at least need to think about how you’re going to approach the question. I actually thought a great deal about how Dru was going to approach the problem of her period in a school full of boys who can smell blood. The potential for social disaster is huge. This sort of thing is something every girl in middle to high school has to face, albeit not to the same degree, and it’s rarely talked about without embarrassment and blushing.

Even if I hadn’t planned on putting some sort of discussion of this into the books, I still need to think about it and know it. Worldbuilding is very important, even if the reader only sees the tip of the iceberg. For example, Dante Valentine’s world lives and breathes for me. So much of what I have in my head for that world never made it onto paper. A tiny fraction, less than one percent, made it out. But the bulk of those worldbuilding problems I solved and thought about was the rest of the iceberg underwater, supporting that tiny bit everyone else could see.

So, Kayle, I hope that answers your question. Yes, I do think about these things when it comes to building worlds and characters. I can’t help myself. I want the worlds to be as tight and as internally consistent as possible. I don’t know if I achieve that goal 100%, but it’s not for lack of trying.

Over and out.

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I do not like American football[1]. For a long time I have considered it a shameful waste–a waste of young men, a waste of tax revenue for the stadiums, a waste of energy and enthusiasm. I realize not many people share my views. That’s OK. I’m used to that.

When I was running at the track over at the middle school, I would always dread this time of year. Because American football tryouts and practices would be going on in the field inside the track. I hated the aura of effort and misery over the young kids. I hated how the parents would yell from the sidelines, looking to live vicariously through their poor kids instead of working to live as adults. I absolutely loathed how the “coaches” would yell abuse at the kids. If someone talked to my kid that way, there would be consequences. Someone would lose their job and I’d make a lot of trouble for the school. I realize I am an administrator’s worst nightmare. So be it. Nobody verbally abuses my children, thank you.

Sometimes, when the wind is right this time of year, I can hear the whistle blowing and yelling from the middle school. I’m glad I have the treadmill and I do my running in the morning now. My heart would ache for the poor kids every time I went running over there during American football season.

This little trip down Memory Lane was spurred by this Malcolm Gladwell article in the New Yorker, titled Football, Dogfighting, and Brain Damage. Go read it. (Seriously, go. I’ll wait here.)

Catchy title, isn’t it? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

The first brain McKee received was from a man in his mid-forties who had played as a linebacker in the N.F.L. for ten years. He accidentally shot himself while cleaning a gun. He had at least three concussions in college, and eight in the pros. In the years before his death, he’d had memory lapses, and had become more volatile. McKee immunostained samples of his brain tissue, and saw big splotches of tau all over the frontal and temporal lobes. If he hadn’t had the accident, he would almost certainly have ended up in a dementia ward. (Malcolm Gladwell)

Ten years, okay. But surely if a kid stops early they don’t get as damaged. Right? You think it’s okay for a kid to play this “sport”? Really?

McKee got up and walked across the corridor, back to her office. “There’s one last thing,” she said. She pulled out a large photographic blowup of a brain-tissue sample. “This is a kid. I’m not allowed to talk about how he died. He was a good student. This is his brain. He’s eighteen years old. He played football. He’d been playing football for a couple of years.” She pointed to a series of dark spots on the image, where the stain had marked the presence of something abnormal. “He’s got all this tau. This is frontal and this is insular. Very close to insular. Those same vulnerable regions.” This was a teen-ager, and already his brain showed the kind of decay that is usually associated with old age. “This is completely inappropriate,” she said. “You don’t see tau like this in an eighteen-year-old. You don’t see tau like this in a fifty-year-old.” (Malcolm Gladwell)

Yeah. Harmless, aggressive fun. Well, what about those super helmets that are supposed to be coming out now, that are supposed to cut down on brain trauma?

“People love technological solutions,” Nowinski went on. “When I give speeches, the first question is always: ‘What about these new helmets I hear about?’ What most people don’t realize is that we are decades, if not forever, from having a helmet that would fix the problem. I mean, you have two men running into each other at full speed and you think a little bit of plastic and padding could absorb that 150 gs of force?” (Malcolm Gladwell)

The most maddening part of the Gladwell article comes when he’s interviewing Ira Casson, who “co-chairs an N.F.L. committee on brain injury.” Casson is careful to engage in lawyerly doublespeak, and avoid all real responsibility.

“We certainly know from boxers that the incidence of C.T.E. is related to the length of your career,” he went on. “So if you want to apply that to football—and I’m not saying it does apply—then you’d have to let people play six years and then stop. If it comes to that, maybe we’ll have to think about that. On the other hand, nobody’s willing to do this in boxing. Why would a boxer at the height of his career, six or seven years in, stop fighting, just when he’s making million-dollar paydays?” He shrugged. “It’s a violent game. I suppose if you want to you could play touch football or flag football. For me, as a Jewish kid from Long Island, I’d be just as happy if we did that. But I don’t know if the fans would be happy with that. So what else do you do?” (Malcolm Gladwell)

In other words, as long as there’s money to be squeezed out of the public’s hunger to see men beat the shit out of each other, people like Casson will be all too willing to profit. The fact that it’s killing people, driving them to dementia and scarring their brains, doesn’t matter. There’s cash to be had. As long as people will pay, hey, people will play. And that’s it.

The problem is that this breaks the implicit contract between players of American football and the “managers” and “coaches” who push them to give their all. If you are going to push a dog, a child, or a man to give you their best effort, their everything, it is incumbent upon you, as Gladwell points out, not to march them off the end of a cliff. It is not enough to “lead.” One must lead responsibly. Why is this simple fact not taken into account? Oh, yeah. That little thing called profit.

Now, when I hear the whistles floating over from the middle school and the sound of kids flinging themselves at each other, I am going to be even more disgusted. If I’m ever over at the track while “practice” is going on, Jesus, I don’t know. It’s going to be difficult to watch. There are those kids, thinking that their parents and coaches know best. They wouldn’t ask us to do this, or let us do this, if it was dangerous, right?



[1] To me, real football is what Yanks call soccer. American football is something different. YMMV

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Oct. 23rd, 2009 12:19 pm)

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, where there are contests, more writing advice, and occasionally giveaways. Go take a look!

It’s no use fighting it. I’m a winter writer.

I actually never thought about it until the Selkie looked at me over dinner one evening and said, “You didn’t know that? You get all your work done in the winter. It’s like you’re powered by rain.” (Or something to that effect.)

I’m not sure whether it is the rain and the fact that there’s nothing to do outside (except drown, of course, this being the Pacific Northwest and all) or whether it’s just that I’m physically so uncomfortable in the summer. I hate the heat, I dislike sweating, sunshine makes me feel odd. Plus there’s all that activity outside during the summer–the kids like playing, and I like being with them. It seems too busy to settle down.

In winter, however, I turn inward. Seeing the stories inside my head gets easier. The sound of rain on the roof makes me happy, and the chill outside makes me the perfect temperature inside. Plus, there’s the longer nights, and night-time is when the static of so many people doing their daytime thinking goes down. I have always functioned better at night. (Which makes the fact that at least one of my children is a morning person verreh ironic.) Of course I cram in the work whenever I can, it being the way I feed myself and the little darlings, but I’d be a fool if I didn’t notice what times were easiest for me. I try to arrange my life so I have the prime writing time open.

Which brings me to my point. My dear fellow writers, are you a winter or summer writer? Morning or night? Does temperature or weather matter to you? How do you arrange your writing schedule to take advantage of that, or do you?

I’m curious, you see. My besetting sin.

And now, it’s raining pretty heavily. Which means it’s primetime for me. Off I go to write…

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So, yeah. Some of you have noticed that I’m not my usual sparkling self. I’m having tremendous shakeups in my personal life. This is difficult, so bear with me.

I am saddened to report that I am separated from my spouse. This happened in May for a variety of reasons. Since then I have been trying to keep everything under wraps. I am a pretty private person–stop laughing, really, I am. You’ll notice I use pseudonyms for everyone other than people who are already in the public eye here. I also don’t like to talk a lot about my personal problems, except inasmuch as they relate to writing. I figure it’s not so classy to spread private business around the Internets.

Lately I have been reaching the end of my rope. The strain of being a single mother, a full workload, and dealing with feelings of pain, anger, abandonment, loneliness, inadequacy, flashes of joy–you name it, I’ve felt it in the last five months. I’ve tried the coping mechanisms and tried to do All The Right Things. It just…hasn’t helped. I am adrift.

Last night was particularly bad. I finally ended up calling the erstwhile spouse. After five months apart, I think we’ve both had time to think things over. I cannot live with him again, but I have asked for him to come back to this area and help me care for the children. I do have other help, but there’s only so much friends can do. And to be perfectly honest, this is his problem too. It seems reasonable to me that now that we’ve gone through the initial and most difficult period of breaking up, that we can approach childcare as a team. Thankfully, he agrees and the split is not contentious in any way. Neither of us are contentious people, at least not with each other over this issue. I have that much to be grateful for: this is entirely amicable, even if stressful.

Many of you have privately contacted me to ask what’s wrong, and to offer support. Thank you for that. I am juggling many balls right now and can’t afford to drop any or add more. So if I don’t quite respond right away, please understand that it’s not because I’m ignoring you. It’s because I’m busy trying to put out some fires.

So, yeah, that’s it. Awkward. I will be back to Friday writing posts and the regular hullabaloo tomorrow. Thank you to everyone who’s offered support lately–I am more grateful than I can say.

The sooner I get back to feeling okay, the better. It’s about damn time.

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I’m thinking Tuesday will become my errands day. The crowds have gone down and a lot of the Monday shoppers have gotten what they need.

My friends tell me I need to meet more people. It’s not like I live under a rock, it’s just that I’m a single mom and dealing with a lot of stuff. The Universe seems to agree with my friends, because all of a sudden people I didn’t know were interested are all saying, “We want to spend some time with you. Come and do X with us, or something else?” It’s nice to feel wanted. Considering I’ve spent most of my life feeling unwanted, it’s a good and glorious change.

I sent off the first round of revisions for the third Strange Angels last night. Working through the recent upheaval has been…enlightening. It’s vaguely ironic–no, I take that back. It’s massively ironic that my own advice about working through upheaval has come back to me like this. I search my own weblog for how I dealt with stuff like this at other times, and it’s helpful to sometimes look back through that and remember that I’ve felt like this before, and it too shall pass.

Lots of changes. I need a holding pattern for a while, my flexibility is becoming a bit strained.

And with that, adieu. Off I go to get another day done.

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It’s chicken-with-head-cut-off time. There’s the trip next week and wordcount and ARGH. So, three things today.

* First off, more on the Google Books Settlement. Richard Curtis asks where all the “concerned” people were before all the work was done. More links, of course, as I find them. Feel free to post links in the comments, but keep the shouting/arguing to a minimum, ‘kay? Thanks.

* Just finished The Storm of War, which for a one-book history of WWII was magisterial and pretty good. Some of the author’s assertions I don’t agree with, but I can see how he got there. Moved from that to digesting Disease, Desire, And The Body… in little pieces, and was thrilled to find an intersection with Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s thought in the Introduction. (Homosocial bonds, etc.) I’m also blazing through The Vagabond. I’d forgotten how much I love Colette.

I’m trying to figure out which books to take with me on the trip. I’ll have a lot of time while on the plane and train to read. I’m thinking some JR Ward and This Republic of Suffering, with Epistemology of the Closet for when I feel ambitious.

Yes, I am obsessing over what books to take. It’s better than my usual angst over flying. You don’t even know.

* From Digby:

Seriously, if they can’t support those reforms, which are even supported by the insurance companies themselves, then regulation will never be enough to keep the system honest. A public plan will be impossible to dismantle once it’s in place and will not discriminate against sick people. If they keep premiums low enough to attract some healthy people as well, it will provide enough competition to keep these insurance company greedheads and psycho Republicans from doing their worst. It’s a necessity.

I love how it’s the reformers who everyone believes are trying to kill people when it’s these defenders of the status quo who actually are. (Digby)

It’s funny, but the conservative side of the healthcare debate, with its lunatic fringe yelling about Nazism and death panels, is a huge exercise in projection. They’re trying to pin on everyone else the things–i.e., killing people who don’t agree with them–they actually ascribe to, the things their poster boys do. Words can’t express my disgust at this point. Though Barney Frank does a good job. And so does the Rude Pundit, who is not for the faint-of-heart and NSFW either. (You’ve been warned.)

Glenn Greenwald, in his typically logical and nonemotional way, details what’s actually driving the healthcare reform process and debate.

I just feel like, come on people. We could put a man on the moon, fer Chrissake. We can figure out how to get healthcare for everyone, the way other developed countries do. Quit being idiots. And at the same time, I feel weary contempt for the lies and fear-and-hatemongering going around, but I don’t know why I’m surprised. This is business as usual from the jerkwads who brought us Fox News. Yawn. Let’s do something productive instead, mmmkay?

I’m almost glad I’m going to be taking an enforced break from blogging next week while traveling. I’m worn out.

And that, as they say, is that.

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I’ve mentioned before that my online acquaintance Wolfinthewood (Gillian Spraggs, for those of you just joining us) has turned her considerable academic talents to the Google Book Settlement. She has a paper explaining aspects of the settlement you can download in PDF. While I am not sure I agree with her contention that the settlement may not be such a hot idea (again, I will NOT argue about it here) there’s something about this that is causing me a great deal of concern.

Wolf mentioned last week (on Friday, to be precise) that the search rankings for her post announcing the paper got, well eaten somehow. Now it seems her post(s) about the settlement have been somehow removed from being even indexed by Google. So has the page on her personal website containing the text of her paper.

Not just down below a mass of other pages in rankings. No. We are talking about completely gone. Un-indexed.

As Wolf says:

As I recall it, two things brought Google to its present commanding position. First, a superior search engine. And secondly, the fact that we trusted their results. Google did not go down the road that some search engines did, of mixing paid-for advertising links invisibly with the rest. And in those days their search results were always supposed to be strictly objective, generated through their famous algorithm. Absolutely no hand-fiddling.

Earlier this year anxieties were being widely expressed that Google might censor the books in the Book Service. There is a provision in the Google Book Search agreement that allows Google to exclude up to 15% of the digitised works from its database, without giving a reason. The agitation died away after Google’s representatives put their hands on their hearts and said the company had no intention of practising censorship. So that was all right, then.

This is exactly the same point I (and others) made about Amazon “gaming” search rankings–how on earth could we trust rankings or searches, once we know they have been fiddled with even once? It’s an arrow large online companies have in their quiver, one we now know they will use–if they think they can get away with it.

If they think nobody’s looking or likely to protest.

I am not entirely 100% sure Wolf’s post and paper has been the victim of such gaming. But it looks awful funny, doesn’t it? I mean, with pages completely disappearing from indexing? Just the pages concerning a Certain Subject, and not the other pages on the website? I am now curious and suspicious, and wondering what other voices in the debate about the Google Book Settlement have not been heard.

This does not bode well.

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