So my dog tried to kill me this morning.

Well, really, it wasn’t her fault. She saw a squirrel across the street and twitched, thinking to bolt in front of me to go get it. Unfortunately, this was right where I tripped and fell last time. So down I went with an odd sense of deja vu, tore up my hands nicely, jolted my shoulder and my right knee this time. Just to change it up.

We run with the leash wrapped around my waist; I thread her collar and the leash through the handle a few times to make a pretty secure knot. It keeps it short enough that she can’t get far enough away to hurt herself, but it also means that her darting in front of me is a hazard. She’s gotten a lot better about it, true–most of the time I run right through her, not to be mean but just to teach her that she is not to get in the alpha’s way. But every circuit in her little doggy head fuses when she sees one of the little tree-rodent bastards. It would be funny if it hadn’t ended with me bleeding and actually crying from frustration and pain while lying on the sidewalk.

Yes, you read that right. I burst into tears. The pain wasn’t really that bad, but I was running off some frustration from earlier in the day. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. It’s just…some days, a killing spree seems like a good idea just to get things all cleared up and moving. Especially when I get horrendous and frustrating career news and other silly, stupid, complex problems pile up on me before 9AM.

So we ran the rest of the day’s mileage and I limped home, still bleeding but drained of adrenaline. Which has been a boon today, honestly. Other than just one (totally justified, because hey, I was BLEEDING) crying fit, I could have had several and a psychotic break too! Big fun. As it is, I have just taken to calling Miss B “Killer of Joggers” to add to her other honorifics, and she doesn’t care because she enjoys the accompanying chest-skritches and pets and loves. In fact, she rolls over and grins, panting happily, while I scratch her belly and recite her long list of titles, including “Mighty Squirrel Chaser” and “She Who Will Not Eat Dry Kibble.”

And you know, as long as I can still raspberry her fuzzy little tummy, things can’t be all bad. Even if she did try to murder me.

But if you tell anyone I cried, I’ll have to hurt you. *wink*

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Get out the pitchforks and torches, it’s that kind of day…

So, there’s been some brouhaha in the book-reviewing world. Mostly, it’s been yet another edition of Authors Behaving Badly, and I’ll just point you at Cleolinda’s rundown and my own hoary old advice. Of course writers shouldn’t respond, positively or negatively, to reviews. Of course it’s wrestling a pig in mud–the pig loves it, and you just get dirty and look like an idiot. Of course. Of course.

But.

Look, it would take the patience of a saint to put up with some of this shit. And writers are most definitely not saints. Neither, dear Reader, are you.

In any group of people, X% are going to be assholes. It’s like the speed of light–it’s a fucking constant, so let’s get used to it and go on from there. Even those who are not assholes as a matter of course can sometimes act in an asshole manner, given the right conditions. Sometimes, we’re all assholes. You, me, that guy over there, everyone.

I have to tell you, though, sometimes I just don’t blame authors as much as you’d think. There are “review” sites that only serve to aggrandize their owners’ precious little pretensions, and there are “review” sites that should have a sign attached saying “LOOK, JUST FEED MY ENTITLEMENT COMPLEX BECAUSE OTHERWISE I’LL BADMOUTH YOU!”. Then there’s Goodreads–which I use myself, as a means of tracking my reading, and to be available, to a certain degree, to fans. Which is all fine and good, but just like EVERY OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE, there are some corners of Goodreads that might as well be 4chan. That’s all right if you like 4chan, and of course, if I claim the right to say whatever the hell I want here on this corner of the Internet that I pay for and maintain, I can certainly allow it to “review” sites that appear to be someone’s shallow little reproductions of high-school cliquishness. C’est la vie, c’est la guerre, c’est the fucking marmalade.

A lot of times, however, when I see an Author Behaving Badly On Teh Interwebs–I’m not talking about harassment, I’m not talking about plagiarism–I see a writer getting mad at some deliberately provocative pieces of horseshit. There are “review” sites that keep waving red flags and waiting for the moment a writer, any writer, will snap. They get a charge off this, and I don’t precisely blame some writers for responding. It turns into a situation that only ends well for the petty little provocateur, because they end up getting the emotional charge and the hit count. It never, ever ends well for the writer.

So while I don’t precisely blame the writer sometimes, I do wince. And I do sometimes privately agree with the kernel of some of their rants. I am, and plenty of other writers are, in the position of not being able to offer agreement publicly or professionally, and I think a lot of “review” sites and Mean People on social networking sites bank on that. It’s like the Speshul Snowflakes who decide to be rude to retail or food-service workers. They get the emotional charge and get a kick out of being the “injured party” or merely the Stirrer Of The Shit, and their stink spreads far and wide.

The point of all this is, sooner or later a writer is going to be tempted to respond. If the idea of taking the high road and behaving professionally isn’t enough to stop you, just think about what it means to descend to the level of the jackass who’s trying to taunt you into reacting. Is it worth being just like him or her? Is it truly worth it, when you know you’re just going to end up covered in shit while they laugh at the fact that they made you respond while basking in their brief Internet celebrity? Is it seriously worth it?

This isn’t to exonerate every writer who behaves badly on the Internet. It’s just to say that sometimes, you know, I don’t exactly blame the ones who do snap under the provocation. There but for the grace of God goes anyone, really.

It would do well for us all to remember that.

Over and out.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jan. 9th, 2012 11:12 am)

Hear that? The gargling sound? That’s the sound of one of the worst weekends in recent history swirling down the drain. I am not sad to see it go, either. This morning’s run was a pounding away of stress, frustration, anger, sadness, you name it. It was only four miles, but both Miss B and I were much calmer at the end of it. Funny thing–I was told Aussies get very attached to their owners, but I didn’t realize until this weekend just how attached Miss B is. She was up with me all night Saturday, corralling and helping me handle another very sick animal, and every once in a while she would give me a low, soft, consolatory woof! and a sideways glance, clearly saying “I’m right with you, Mum. Just tell me what to do next.” All damn night, and she was up with me all day Sunday dealing with fallout and cleanup. When things had finally settled down and I patted the bed last night, telling her she had earned (again) the privilege of sleeping on the Big Soft, she settled down and groaned a little, flipped an ear, and was out like a light. And this morning, she was antsy because I was needing to work some of the stress off, so we hit the pavement and went for it.

I can’t talk about the rest of the weekend, because dealing with other people’s thoughtless cruelty just works me up into a ball of frustration. A lot of why I write what I do is to understand. But no matter how much I can paint a picture of it, I just don’t get it. It doesn’t make sense to me. The frustration of my own incomprehension is very large. I keep aiming to have some sort of compassion for assholes, but it’s very difficult when I simply don’t get it. Suffice to say the animal is in good hands and resting comfortably, and everyone here is very glad of it.

Anyway, it’s Monday, and the dread beast of Revisions is nigh. I finished the proofs for Iron Wyrm and am now hard at work on revising Bandit King. I’ve hit the point where I have fully realized that my editor, bless her hard little heart, is right about pretty much everything, and my ego, while staggering under the blow, has accepted it and moved on. I have to go back and tweak what work I did manage to get done through the hustle and bustle of the weekend, for I suspect I was too agonized to think clearly.

So, yeah. Any work I did in the past two days is suspect. I might as well have just lit it on fire, for all the good it’s going to do the manuscript in the end. Which is a big pile of argh, but it’s something fixable, something I can do, and something I understand the process behind.

I suppose I’ll take what I can get.

See you around…

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Why do these things always end up with me barefoot and screaming? It must be Fate or some shit. I have to tell you, though, it’s been so long I think I don’t remember what happened next.

HAHA JUST KIDDING. It’s burned into my tiny monkey brain like the sight of Sean Connery in Zardoz. Anyway. When last we saw Neo, the cats, and my champion herding Aussie, they were all in my sunroom. Neo had expressed his thankfulness for me saving his psychotic squirrel ass by screaming and invading my house, and the cats had taken a vote and decided that they were going to chase the little furry demon. To be fair, Tuxedo!Kitty wanted revenge for being kicked in the head, and Lemur!Cat just wanted to chase something small and snackable without a window in the way. Cranky Old Duck Cat just wanted to be sure nobody was going to eat his share of the kibble. And then, Miss B had gotten loose, and every circuit inside her doggy skull just fused together when she saw an opportunity to heeeeeerd something.

Let’s halt the action here for a second, just press the pause button, as it were, and see what everyone is doing.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Yesterday was a just-plain-endurance sort of day. Take kids to school, a short run, climbing–but only a short session, since I’ve done something to my left arm, both the biceps and the deltoid are Unhappy With Me–and a return home to clean and look after a lovely little four-year-old, the Princess arriving home (half day for everyone! Oh dear!) and a blazing-quick trip out to Cover to Cover to sign a few books, home again and the extra children picked up by their mother, dropping off the Princess at her friend’s house, home again to pick up the Little Prince for his martial arts class, taking the Prince to dinner afterward, home for a brief instant to get the Prince settled and then a trip out to the Princess’s school to attend her choir’s winter concert. Where I stood far in the back and recorded eighth-graders singing on my phone.

The future, it is here.

This morning I took both kids to school again, and it was while dealing with the demolition derby at the middle school that I suddenly looked at the entitlement of the parents using their cars in a giant game of “MINE’S BIGGER!”, and realized why America is the way it is at the moment.

*shakes cane*

Anyway, with the arm the way it is, and my nerves the way they are, I doubt there will be a run today. I just can’t face it. I know I’ll be itchy and cranky by tomorrow, but my body needs the time off, and frankly it’s pretty raw out there.

I should mention that Squirrel Neo, the One-Eyed Scourge/King of the Backyard, is still out and about even though it is cold and raw. If tomorrow is good to me, I shall sing the Lay of the End of the Battle of Pelennor Sunroom, and afterward the Tale of Neo One-Eye and the Girlfriend of DOOOOM. But for today I have some zombie cowboy romance to write.

Over and out…

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Oh, Friday, I’m not in love. But I will consider letting you buy me dinner.

* Want to chat me up and maybe get some books signed? Come to the First Annual Author Faire at Cover to Cover Books! I’ll be there Saturday, December 10, from 11AM to 3PM, along with other great authors like Bill Cameron and Lisa Nowak. I plan on drinking tons of coffee so I’m bright-eyed and manic. Should be lots of fun.

* Today I’m over at the Orbit Books blog, talking about the Hedgewitch Experiment. Any day I can use the phrase “suppository supposition” is a good day.

* Oooh, they dug up a Pendle witch house!

* Big happy doings on the YA front. I can’t say much yet, but it involves a new series. I hate sitting on secrets like this, so rest assured, as soon as I can give more details, I will.

* A certain Squirrel Wonder scared the bejesus out of some guys in my front yard the other day. Which reminds me, I really have to tell you guys how that convalescence of Neo’s turned out. It involves me barefoot and screaming in the backyard again. It’s nice to know I’m consistent…but I’m amazed you guys aren’t bored yet.

* I am starting a project. It involves wine and livetweeting my reading of Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour. I did the first 25 pages the other night and had a blast. My favourite? “Hi, I’m Aaron Lightner/Rod Serling. For the next 965 pages, I’ll be showing you through Anne Rice’s id.” I kill me sometimes, I really do.

* To the skeezy guy trying to chat up the young girl with her dog near the middle-school’s soccer field this morning: my earphones weren’t playing music. I just don’t want to talk to people while I’m running. Consequently, I heard every word you said. And yes, I was looking at you. Because YOU ARE CREEPY. I’m glad the girl fled, and I took that extra lap around the track just to make sure you didn’t follow her. I’m surprised my gaze didn’t burn a hole in you. NEXT TIME IT WILL.

Yeah, Friday. It’s turning out to be a doozy. Let’s skip dinner and go straight to the drinks…

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Nov. 19th, 2011 08:23 pm)

I know you read this.

I know you’re watching.

I know you sweat sometimes, thinking of the secrets I hold. I know you think that just because you terrified me many years ago that I’m terrified now. There is, however, one thing you’ve forgotten.

Let me just take it from the top.

While you were busy fucking with those weaker than yourself, I was busy getting strong. Every time I hit the floor, it was only to get back up again. Every hit, every stab, every moment of abuse made me stronger. Did you not realize you were training me to become dangerous? Did you not think that one day, the small helpless thing you did whatever you wanted to would grow teeth and claws?

I got out. I got away. I glued the broken bits back together. The idiot stubbornness in me that kept me getting up off the floor every time you beat me down has become a bright polished edge. I wrapped my hilt with leather, I trained myself to push past the pain, I did what I never thought I could do. While you have contented yourself with fat laziness, carrion-picking at the bones of easy prey, I have become something else, whether I wanted to or not.

And I have been patient.

I have been so fucking patient for other people. The comfort of those still in your orbit has been my reason, because no matter how little I care for you, I care for them a great deal. I have kept secrets that eat me from the inside out like swallowed glass shards, for their sake. I have kept my mouth shut, I have swallowed rage and the unwitting insults of people who love me and just wish everyone could get along. I have relentlessly tried to be a better person than I ever thought I could be, because, after all, I did not want to be like you.

But you have gone too fucking far.

You make the mistake of thinking that because I am gentle, I am also stupid and harmless. You are, quite simply, wrong.

Here it is: you have been adrift in the shallow, warm waters of my patience. This is no longer the case. Put one toe over my boundaries again, disturb my peace, engage in that manipulation or that naked aggression you are so used to deploying, and you will no longer be in that safe harbour.

I am no longer a child you can injure with impunity. I am a grown-up. More than that, I am a mother, and my curses carry weight. More even than that, I have the ability to dial 911, and I have the ruthless willingness to do whatever is necessary should you trouble me one iota further.

I have put up with this for years. I am serving notice: that phase is over. You have been warned.

That is all.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Oct. 12th, 2011 09:34 am)

Last night, the Topeka, Kansas, city council voted to decriminalize domestic violence.

I can’t say it any better than Jim C. Hines does: “To the folks behind this mess, congratulations! You not only fail as decent human beings, you also suck at math.”

As Erik Scott deBie remarked: To paraphrase Kansas govt: “Down with the wimmins! Yays for abusers! LOL!” http://bit.ly/pwZ1a4 #ugh #electricshockneeded

So, yeah. In Topeka, beating your spouse is okay. Unless someone will foot the legal bills, in which case, it’s wrong.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jun. 30th, 2011 09:34 am)

I broke my best speed for running outside today–five miles, 54 minutes 24 seconds. I’m pretty damn proud of that. Yet one more funny thing about stress, cortisol, and adrenaline–I can feel it burning off while I run, and and I can smell the flat mineral tang of my body metabolizing the stress hormones. At the same time, stress forces me to push and run faster, so I end up going faster or longer or both. Plus, getting back into the swing of five miles four or five days a week does things to my appetite–I start craving lean protein and not wanting so many sweets or junk. (Well, there’s choco–the more I run, the darker I want my chocolate to be.) The ankle is holding up fine; I think it’s pretty much rehabilitated.

I think we’ve found a winner for the Stupidest and Most Blatant Plagiarist of the Year Award, and it’s only June. Bonus points for the woman’s website About page, where she says “I love to write I just started do this January of 2011 and have grown a lot where it comes to my books.” (See for yourself. Caution: Twilight wallpaper ahoy.) It’s been a week for stupidity–you probably heard about the “writer” who decided fake kidnappings were a great way to get an agent’s attention. (Hint: IT’S NOT. And the “publisher” he finally got to take his book? POD or vanity? You make the call.) I think these two are neck and neck for the “Ways To Destroy Any Chance You Ever Had Of A Writing Career” prize this year, too. It’s been a busy week.

If you need an anodyne after that, the JFK turtles are back. Their Twitter is hilariously cute, too.

With that, I’m off to go bouldering. Play safe out there.

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Look out. The writer is cranky today. Yesterday she killed a protagonist. (You’d think they wouldn’t line up to have her tell their stories, the way she mows them down.)

That’s enough third-person, but you get the idea. Today’s like a perfect storm of Things That Piss Lili Off. If it’s not hormones it’s the short workout (Wednesday is my easy day, only three fast miles instead of the endurance-burn of five) or the appointment to talk about Financial Stuff (doesn’t piss me off, just stresses me out) or the fact that I’m on the last third of the current book (yep, the one I just killed the protag in, bastard had it coming like you wouldn’t believe) and everything that pulls me away from writing earns resentment. Or the Creepy Whistling Dude who thinks that a jogging woman in exercise gear with a working dog in saddlebags clearly has time to stop and pay attention to him. (Miss B. does not like him one little bit. Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t either.) Or it could be the weather (though actually, I like the cool and rainy summer we’re having), or a couple other things happening behind the curtain of my personal life. (Don’t ask.)

Every once in a while, one just has a day where the sharp edges are out. It’s time to throw away the scabbard and take no prisoners. Of course, I do have to play gentle today–there’s children, and I’ll be in public for a short time. But other than that? Just throw some choco through the bars and thank your gods I’m on this side.

Over and out.

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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. (politicsusa.com)

…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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He has been scrutinized for months now, his accuracy questioned and his decision to return to school second-guessed. He has never bristled, showing the kind of composure that any coach would love to see in the pocket.

There have been fun moments like the ESPN feature with former NFL coach Jon Gruden and his famously intense film study. There have been awkward times, too. Like the interview question from a team that threw Locker for a loop: Would you give your 16-year-old daughter birth control.

“It caught me off guard,” he said. “Maybe it was to see how I would respond.” (Boston Herald)

Well, yes. That would catch one off-guard, wouldn’t it.

This is a guy being drafted into a football team. He will be playing a made-up game that glorifies violence and aggression, and probably be paid very well for it. That’s his choice, I have no problem with that. I like rock climbing, he likes throwing a pigskin for imaginary points. One man’s meat, and all.

Here is what mystifies me: why the hell are “they” (I presume this is a team he might be drafted into) asking him a question like this? The underlying assumption is that he would “give” or “allow” his daughter birth control. Well, if the alternative is a teen pregnancy or an STD, such a move might be considered responsible parenting. Parents are here to teach their children to be adults, and to help kids in the years before their ability to understand consequences is fully developed. (If you even try to trot out the old canard about abstinence education being effective, just stop right there.) I’ve written before about the pervading and pervasive cultural assumption that women are property, passed from their fathers to their husbands in no unequivocal terms. Is this question an outgrowth of that assumption? That troubles me on a meta level, but what troubles me even more is that this is a throwaway line in the middle of a piece of reporting*, obviously considered of little consequence except for its “entertainment” value. (I actually got the link from a Mental Floss tweet.) It’s considered no big deal. The indifference is breathtaking.

My answer to a question like that would be, “What? Why the fuck do you think that is your business? It’s my family’s business, and beyond that, it’s my daughter’s business, and what is a collection of men doing asking about this?” I’m fairly sure I would give whoever asked such a ridiculous, repugnant, invasive question a stinging verbal dressing-down before leaving the room determined never to do business with them again, in any way, since they are capable of (and have no qualms about, apparently) such inappropriate asshattery. This is what I immediately thought, “What the hell is this guy doing, sitting there calmly while a bunch of jerks asks him this?”

He’s a college player, so it’s vanishingly unlikely that he has a 16-year old daughter, or that he will for quite some time. You could argue, I suppose, that they wanted to “provoke” him to see how he would respond on the field. My reply is: bullshit. This man is going to make a living playing a violent game that encourages, facilitates, and rewards violent behavior. A question this stupid, phrased this casually, especially when it’s totally irrelevant because the guy is what, 20?, is not going to give you any goddamn idea of how he’s going to behave after you finish another few years of rewarding the type of behavior football requires and endorses from its players. It’s like asking a llama how it feels about tap dancing–it just doesn’t even fricking apply.

And, I reiterate: the whole thing is just thrown into the middle of a “news” article, like it’s no big deal. Wink wink, nudge nudge, isn’t this funny, the important thing is this guy can play this made-up game and might be invited to play this made-up game somewhere else for a lot of money.

It just boggles the mind.

* However much sports “reporting” can qualify for that name, that is.

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I’ve received a deluge of email after yesterday’s rant. The vast majority is supportive, and I thank you kindly for it.

The small proportion left over, well…I’ll give you a sample. This one’s representative, both because of its phrasing and because of a self-serving justification for stealing I hadn’t noticed much before. We’ll go point by point.

So, this is from a certain S.E.P. He starts out with his main thesis.

I find it extremely hypocritical talking about “stealing” e-books, when your not making sure people can actually buy them.

Oh, my. Well, if they’re there to be stolen, perhaps they’re also there to be bought? And how am I “not making sure” people can buy them? I’m not going door to door with cases of them? But wait, he explains further.

I have no way of legally obtaining your e-books by paying for them.

Let me repeat that, I’ve no way of legally paying for your e-books due to your stupid publisher. Your not loosing money by me obtaining your books without paying, because there is no way for me to pay for your e-books as your unwilling to sell them Internationally.

What? Just…what? In the first place, I AM losing money by you “obtaining my books without paying”, for fuck’s sake, and in the most fundamental way. You just shot yourself in the foot and didn’t even notice.

In the second place, I am not unwilling to sell my books internationally. Neither are my publishers. In some cases we are unable to do so.

This particular canard is related to the argument that you are justified in stealing because the ebooks don’t come in a format that fits your e-reader. Both are something I, as a writer, have as much control over as, say, the weather in southeast China. (Which is to say, none at all.) The correct people to talk to about this are the original publishers, so you can find out if foreign rights have been sold to a publisher in your country and then, ask that publisher if there are plans to release in ebook format. You can also talk to your distributor and let them know you want X book in their format. They’ll listen–it means taking your money, after all. They like that.

Regardless, saying you’re entitled to steal because of foreign unavailability, or because a certain distributor doesn’t have my book in their format, is hogwash.

I like the Korean pop star Rain. Unfortunately, I can’t get hold of most of his stuff unless it’s import CDs for a hellish amount of money. This is an inconvenience to me, but I manage to avoid STEALING and torrenting his music. I refuse to steal, and I either wait until I’ve saved up to buy the import CD, or I go to Everyday Music and check their International section, or I go to Ebay. If I still can’t find it, well. Rain doesn’t get my money, and I don’t get his music, and that’s sad. It’s a goddamn tragedy.

It is NOT a justification for fucking STEALING.

Do I wish everyone in the world could read my books? You betcha. Do I wish it was easier for people in different countries to read my books? Sure do! But this is an imperfect world, and there are things I have no control over, and those two issues are picture-perfect examples of things I have little to no control over. Not only that, but those issues are not justification for taking without paying. Because taking without paying is STEALING. How many times do I have to repeat that basic fact before it sinks in? Or, wait. It’s sunk in. you know you’re doing wrong, otherwise you wouldn’t be attempting to justify so damn hard.

The basic assumption here is that you are entitled and someone is infringing on your entitlement. You are mistaking an inconvenience for a violation of your rights. When you’re three years old, you think you have an absolute right to have what you want whenever you want it. By the time you reach adulthood, you are supposed to realize that this isn’t so. But some people apparently don’t get it. They feel entitled, and so they steal. You are inconvenienced by the fact that the logistics of international law stand in your way of getting an ebook, and it’s easy to steal, and then you have the unmitigated effrontery to write to me justifying it when I publicly ask you not to steal from me?

I am inconvenienced every damn day too. I am inconvenienced by a long line at the grocery checkout, but that is not a justification for taking my groceries without paying for them. I am inconvenienced by the price of diamonds, but that does not justify stealing them. I am inconvenienced by the fact that there are certain countries my ebooks aren’t sold in, and there are certain things I love, like J-pop, that I can’t indulge as freely in as I’d like because of logistical difficulties.

I manage to refrain from fucking stealing.

As far as I know my bank converts the money into $ before transferring them to you, so what the hell is wrong with my money since they aren’t good enough to pay for the books, just because my credit card and bank is in another country?

This has nothing to do with anything. The publishers would love to take your money, and I would love to have them do it because I get a chunk of it. My books are sold in several foreign countries, by foreign publishers–Brazil, France, Russia, to name only three. Those publishers would probably love to take your money too, if you asked them. In the countries that remain, if enough people asked them to carry my work, they would be all too delighted to.

This is 2011, The Internet connect us all, so stop being stupid and prevent people from paying for stuff.

I am asking you not to steal, jackass, not “preventing” you from paying.

The Internet makes it easy for people to steal and gives them the illusion that they can get away with it. (And as Laura Anne Gilman noted yesterday, “Information wants to be free” means “Information wants to be unrestrained,” not “unpaid-for”.) I don’t think the Internet has made people more likely to steal, I think it’s made it easier and removed perceived difficulty and risk, much the same way cars removed perceived difficulty and risk for bank robbers in the twenties and thirties.

You’re not justified in stealing my books. You’re not fricking Jean Valjean, you’re a jerk who thinks he can get away with stealing and blaming the victim of the theft when she publicly asks you not to do so.

Believe it or not, this letter was actually one of the more coherent I received out of the small proportion classified as “I’m going to edumacate you in WHY I’m justified in stealing and it’s all your fault anyway and how DARE you ask me not to!!onety!” (As well as the one with the least typos. The mind boggles.)

I’ll bet, now that I’ve shot down the more common justifications for e-piracy, that the emails will only get more venomous and more exotic in their attempted justification of theft. The thing that comes through most clearly in this letter is that S.E.P. believes he is entitled, even though he knows what he’s doing is wrong. This Speshul Snowflake of Entitlement is very, very common, and the Internet makes it easy for such people to steal.

If you steal ebooks, it means less stories for you. It’s that simple. I will continue to ask, publicly, that you don’t steal my books. In a perfect world I wouldn’t even have to ask you not to steal my books. We don’t live in a perfect world, but I am not going to stop calling piracy what it is–theft–and publicly asking those engaging in it to just goddamn stop.

Over and out.

ETA: It is a common misconception that ebooks “cost nothing” to produce, or that the price of ebooks is padded excessively. This is not the case. Ebooks are not cost-free, and here’s why.

Comments closed, once again, for the same reasons as yesterday. My comment policy is here. Comments will reopen on tomorrow’s post, probably, and my Hammer of Moderation is ready and waiting. Just so you know.

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

So that rant I was thinking about yesterday…well. One more straw was added to the camel’s back, and I’m going to go there. If you have a problem with four-letter words, don’t read any further. Go find some rainbows or ponies or something.

Here we go.

Why do I have to keep explaining to people that stealing is wrong? You’d think that should be a given. You’d think people wouldn’t argue.

To the person who sent me a little note about a “just-released study” “proving” that ebook piracy actually “helps” me: number one, I’m pretty sure that “study” doesn’t say what you think it does, and number two, how can I put this politely…

Oh, I can’t. I can’t be polite about this.

Fuck you.

E-piracy is “not a black and white issue,” you say. FUCK that. Taking without paying for is called stealing. Piracy is people stealing my fucking books, and it doesn’t get much more black and white than STEALING IS WRONG.

Even if that study says what you thought it did, you would still be asking me to believe that potential sales (which I can’t see and nobody has any way of proving) are somehow equivalent to the thousands of downloaded copies I can see people STEALING. If you even try to pull out the “well, maybe those people stealing it wouldn’t have bought it in the first place, so you should be grateful”, I will only repeat, fuck you very much. This is like saying car theft increases brand visibility, so nobody should be worried or upset about it. It’s just plain ridiculous.

The other thing I’ve had thrown at me lately–once when I politely asked someone to stop stealing my books, and again when someone on Facebook was trying to justify piracy–is that I shouldn’t be writing for the money anyway, implying that I’m somehow “lesser” because I expect people not to steal books I’ve written. I’ve already written about that canard. I don’t write “just for” the money, and even if I did it wouldn’t make me any less of a human being who doesn’t deserve to have her work stolen. Trying to say you’re justified in stealing my work because I shouldn’t be writing for money is so incredibly stupid, I can’t even talk to you if you’re going to be that willfully, obstinately stupid.

“But Publisher X GIVES AWAY ebooks and it HELPS THEIR SALES!” you wail.

Publisher X chooses to offer some of their list for discount or free, for varying reasons. They have a choice, and the content creator (the person who spent the effort to write and revise it in the first damn place) is part of that choice. This is not in any way, shape, or form an equivalent to people fucking stealing. Why do I even have to explain this?

I have a suspicion of why: because e-pirates know what they’re doing is wrong. They dress it up in silly stupid arguments like the above because they are trying to cover up theft with a pretty name. It’s not a new human behavior, (for lo, theft and greed in their many forms have been with us from the beginning) but it’s not one I have to condone either.

It’s very simple.

Piracy is stealing. Stealing is wrong. Pirating my books means I can afford to write less stories for you. If the first two sentences of this paragraph aren’t enough to stop you, maybe the third will be.

Comments are closed because I will not listen to one more idiot bleating about how epiracy is somehow beneficial to me, or how I should really be grateful to the jackasses stealing my work, or how it’s not really stealing because everybody feels like they deserve something for free and that’s what the Internet is about, or any of the other red herrings, false equivalencies, downright lies, or self-serving idiocy that one or two assholes always have to throw into the pot every time an author objects to people STEALING his or her work. (ETA: Like another one I just noticed, the “publishers charge too much, so we’re RIGHT to steal, because we’re customers!” OMG. There just aren’t words for the stupid.) Today I am just done with explaining. If you didn’t learn in elementary school that stealing is wrong, I doubt I’m going to be able to teach you now over the Internet. But even that doesn’t make stealing any less goddamn wrong.

Over and out.

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Dec. 17th, 2010 10:19 am)

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames.

G’morning! I’ve updated the Strange Angels page for Defiance, and added a page for Taken, my Harlequin Nocturne coming out in February. I’ve been a busy little bee this morning. (I do hope to get a newsletter out by the first of the year, but don’t count on it.) There is all sorts of fantastic news I can’t share yet, but I can say that the busy will not abate. Which is good. I’m happiest when I’m working.

The alternative just doesn’t bear contemplating.

So here I am on another Friday. There’s a lot of work ahead of me today, I can’t stay long, so here’s Three Things That Hopefully Make A Post (two of them questions I’ve been asked lately):

1. How do you make a reader care about a Bad Man/Antihero/Almost-Villain? Well, first you have to be absolutely clear on what the Bad Man’s motivations are. You have to know what his glass of water is. You have to know why they are doing what they’re doing. Then, you need to figure out what the most effective way of getting that why across to the reader. Half the work in making a Bad Man (or Woman, I should add) is getting that understanding; understanding breeds compassion, as I kept saying to a certain Coyote until I was blue in the face. Once we understood Vader was Luke’s dad, a whole lot more about Vader started to make sense and he became much more than a cardboard villain. (I am not even referring to those movies with JarJar. Just…no.) Sit down and make a list of why your Bad Man does the things he does; then decide if you want the reader to care, or to loathe, or both. Then you can write him (or her) effectively.

2. What if you run out of ideas? Look, the world is a smorgasboard. There are stories waiting all around you, just aching to burst into your consciousness. I don’t believe there is any such thing as writer’s block, and I have always seen the world as literally CROWDED with stories. Every car you pass on the freeway, every person on the bus, every light in the city at night, every person you see at the mall or at work or ANYWHERE, has their own story. Thinking “What if?” and “Why?” when you observe the people and things around you is fabulous creative fuel. I will never run out of ideas. Some ideas will not be plausible, some will not be ones I can pull off in novel or short story form, some will be unable to bear the weight of story structure, some I’m just not interested in telling the story around. But running out of them? Nope. Won’t happen.

3. This isn’t a question I’ve been asked, it’s just a thing. I don’t do arbitrary. There isn’t room for arbitrary in stories. You curl your fingers around your swordhilt, you draw and make your cut, and you are either victorious or dead. I do not “throw in” romance because a particular genre “has to have a romance in the book.” I write the story first and worry about what genre it sticks in later. If I’m writing to spec, I pick stories knocking around in my head that tally with the specs. (There’s never any shortage–see #2.) But I do not arbitrarily put stuff in my books. If something’s there, it’s there for a reason. Sometimes that reason is just that I’ve made a choice, simple as that. But it’s not arbitrary. I rather resent the implication that I just throw shit into the books without any care or thought. (As if you couldn’t tell.) Right next to piracy (don’t even get me started), this is a major irritant.

And that’s three things that hopefully make a post. The current round of revisions is eating my head, and the proof pages I’ve got to get done this weekend (days off? What are those? Do they even exist?) are chuckling at me from their pile. Time to strap on the flamethrower and the red pencil and get to work.

Over and out.

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

For the first time in my life, I need slippers. I’ve been wandering around barefoot most of my life. But I’ve lost a lot of insulation in the last year, and with the recent drop in temperatures…well, I’m always cold. I’m wearing four layers right now. Admittedly one of the layers is a tank top, because I’m heading out to the climbing wall later today, but still.

Good morning. There’s an interesting article on the lost women scientists of the Royal Society (well, not lost, just unacknowledged by their male peers, OH THE SURPRISE) and an article about James Frey that has “literary ethics” in the title. Here’s a clue: He doesn’t have any. I was willing to believe he got swept away and did a douchebag maneuver once with that whole “look it’s a memoir, oh wait, I’m LYING!” thing. People make mistakes, and if you don’t f!ck up huge at least once in life, you’re either incredibly lucky or not trying hard enough.

But this whole Full Fathom Five thing is not a mistake, and it moves him firmly into the category of conscious asshat instead of simply-misguided jerk. At bottom, Full Fathom Five is simply a scam. Frey feeding off aspiring writers is no different than the jerkwad vanity presses and nonagents often exposed by Writer Beware. He’s taking advantage of the persistent and seductive notion that there’s a secret handshake or something involved in getting published, that all you have to do is Know The Right Someone and your opus shall be published and Make You Rich. (Look, this is NOT TRUE. I can’t be any clearer: hard work and some luck; the harder you work the luckier you are, no guarantees, learn your craft, it takes WORK to do this. There is no magic pill, mmkay?) Instead of draining the aspiring writer’s bank account up front, he drains it on the back end by setting things up so he’s simply a packager, offering a contract no reputable packager would even dream of–a contract real agents or halfway-sensible business-savvy writers would look and and laugh at before unceremoniously tossing in the rubbish bin and rolling their eyes.

Sure, nobody forces these aspiring writers to sign the terrible contract Frey’s offering. Nobody forces people to hand over thousands to vanity presses or fake “agents” on the hope that they’ll be the next Shack. Nobody forces people to send cash to those companies running infomercials that promise you real estate riches, flatter abs, better pheromones, or what-have-you, either. It’s all legal, but that doesn’t mean it’s ethical, and it doesn’t mean it’s something I as a professional can just let wander by without pointing out it’s wrong. Incidentally, shame on the Hollywood people paying him, but that’s their right. I can vote with my pocketbook and not go to see the movies. I don’t think I’ll be missing much.

Also, Frey’s “I’m the bad boy of literature” refrain just rubs me the wrong way. If you have to say that out loud, dude, you’re NOT. Hemingway was a bad boy of literature. Oscar Wilde was a bad boy of literature. Charles Bukowski was a bad boy of literature. You, sir, are no Hemingway, Wilde, or Bukowski. You’re just a garden-variety grifter. Which, you know, go with what you’re good at, and as someone pointed out to me recently, that’s actually a lonely, high-stakes career that requires a lot of effort. So…yeah. Go you. But be prepared for me to point and laugh.

I also find it very interesting that Frey’s “defense” doesn’t contain specifics or documents (suitably blacked-out in certain bits for the privacy of the writers he’s “contracted” with, of course). If Frey really wants to prove his company’s not a huge scam, he should start offering some specifics. Transparency is his friend right now. Looking at his pattern of behavior, though, transparency is one thing we’re not going to get. The air of injured innocence he’s trying to float is pretty laughable. Once you’ve been caught in some whoppers, you need to work twice as hard and be twice as open to remain above reproach.

Anyway. The whole thing is just so…tacky. It must be terrible, living in a place so insecure you feel stealing other people’s work and scamming them is a viable strategy. It seems a lonely, stressful way to live, not to mention incredibly draining. One wonders why Frey bothers, when he could just stop the constant attention-seeking and misdirection and possibly use all that wasted energy to finish a few novels of his own–and maybe learn enough that he can get them published on their own merits, without lies.

‘Nuff said.

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

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames. Check out our new shiny!

Good afternoon, my dears. A couple things, then a small Friday post, then off into the wild blue yonder.

* If you look at my events calendar, you’ll see I’m at the Auburn, WA, public library tomorrow (Saturday), and on Sunday I’m at the Cedar Hills Crossing Powell’s for the SF/F Authorfest. I’ll gladly sign books at both events, though there will be no books for sale at the Auburn library. I’m beginning to get pre-event nerves (nobody will show up, my heart will stop from sheer terror, someone will throw rotten fruit, etc., etc.) so I will just content myself with saying, if you’re in the area, both events promise to be a lot of fun.

* Want to know what makes me feel really, really unclean, and not in a good way? This article about James Frey preying on creative writing graduates.

This is the essence of the terms being offered by Frey’s company Full Fathom Five: In exchange for delivering a finished book within a set number of months, the writer would receive $250 (some contracts allowed for another $250 upon completion), along with a percentage of all revenue generated by the project, including television, film, and merchandise rights—30 percent if the idea was originally Frey’s, 40 percent if it was originally the writer’s. The writer would be financially responsible for any legal action brought against the book but would not own its copyright. Full Fathom Five could use the writer’s name or a pseudonym without his or her permission, even if the writer was no longer involved with the series, and the company could substitute the writer’s full name for a pseudonym at any point in the future. The writer was forbidden from signing contracts that would “conflict” with the project; what that might be wasn’t specified. The writer would not have approval over his or her publicity, pictures, or biographical materials. There was a $50,000 penalty if the writer publicly admitted to working with Full Fathom Five without permission. (Inside Full Fathom Five, p. 3)

In case you’re wondering, these are bad, bad terms. They’re the sort of terms Guy Pearce’s Warhol offered Sienna Miller’s Edie Sedgwick, only without the initial friendship. Or the sort of terms Lord Ruthven might have offered one of his victims. I’ll just content myself with noting that Frey’s earlier hijinks make me feel filthy about this in a way that James Patterson’s or VC Andrews’s ghostwriters don’t. Also, dude, if you’re a rebel, you don’t need to go around saying what a rebel you are. Henry Miller would kick Frey’s ass for presumption.

“But wait!” you might say. “Nobody’s forcing these people to sign with Frey’s company! He’s not holding a gun to their heads or anything!”

True. But Bernie Madoff didn’t hold a gun to anyone’s head either; scam artists don’t have to and we still prosecute them–or at least, evince some distaste for their methods. As a professional, I cannot condone Frey’s behavior and I hope one or two aspiring writers might decide in light of that article not to lend themselves to this nastiness. ‘Nuff said.

* Also, while I’m in take no prisoners mode, there’s the same kerfluffle there is every year over NaNoWriMo. (No, I’m not linking to the kerfluffles. They make me tired.) NaNo is great for one thing: teaching aspiring writers to shut up, sit down, and make writing a priority. That’s great, and it’s just the sort of lesson a lot of people who want to write often need. But writing only one month out of the year is not a good way to maximize your chances of producing quality, publishable work. That’s like saying a two-hour class can teach you to safely be a trapeze acrobat. I’m not knocking NaNo–I’ve participated several times, and plan to participate next year. It’s a good thing, but it’s not the sole means of becoming a writer or of learning to consistently produce publishable work.

Anyway. I promised another process post, didn’t I?

Read the rest of this entry » )

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

The winners of the Heaven’s Spite contest are now posted.

I know I promised a Friday writing post about process, but I’m afraid you wouldn’t get much of any use out of me yesterday or today. I’m having one of those weeks where I question my chosen career pretty hard. If it’s not piracy (Heaven’s Spite hasn’t been officially out for more than a week and the torrents are popping up like mushrooms) or plagiarism it’s someone implying NaNoWriMo is a waste because it encourages the plebes to write. Plus I just paid some taxes, and had a dentist appointment last week and other Life Shit piling up, so…yeah. I’m not an uber-happy little camper right now, and if you asked me to write about writing, what you’d get would be a pile of bitterness.

I’m not up to a bitter screed right now. (For once, yeah, I know. Call the press.)

So I’m just going to say this.

If you love to read stories, great. Don’t pirate them, because the end result of pirating is less stories for you. Write if you want to. Understand that making a living by writing is not easy and calls for professionalism and hard work. If you’re gonna do it, do it, and let me be the first to congratulate and support you. If you’re not, that’s okay, I wish you luck. Either way, brush your teeth, get enough sleep, hug the people you love and tell them what they mean to you. Watch out for ninja terminator squirrels.

And have a great weekend. See you Monday.

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Oct. 18th, 2010 07:58 am)

Well, we found out how many people it takes to pack up a bookstore in under 24 hours. The fire was Thursday evening, serious packing started at about 3pm on Friday, and by 2pm on Saturday the owner and I had locked up the empty store. There’s still things there that have to be counted and inventoried for loss, but everything that could possibly be salvaged–around 14 tons of books, shelves, furniture, counters, even Shirley the plastic penguin–is gone. Oh, the espresso machine and pump is still there; a servicing by regular company should clean both of those. Also, I’ll be taking the plants and seeing if I can’t rehabilitate them.

But, yeah. The darling Scupperlout came out and worked her buns off, the owner’s husband is a Mason so plenty of his buddies came by and worked their buns off, and a group of very nice boys from Servicemaster came out. They had no buns to work off–I wanted to feed them, they were all the rangy type. I settled for giving them doughnuts. BUT, they worked hard and in about 24 hours, the entire place was stripped.

“It’s kind of terrifying,” the owner said to me as we headed for our cars in the parking lot, breathing deep.

“At least we know now what happens after a fire. It’s all material,” I replied.

I think she probably wanted to hit me before she saw my tired grin and realized I was messing with her.

The most annoying thing was the vultures and lookie-lous. People would just wander in past the yellow fire tape. “Oh, are you guys closed?” I mean, there’s no electricity. The place is being torn apart. There are signs up front saying “THERE WAS A FIRE. DON’T COME IN.” But in they came. Oh, and people trying to take stuff from the pile out back while the Servicemaster guys were loading. What is wrong with people? Jeez.

Anyway, I’ve been smelling smoke since, even though I immediately washed up when I got home and got what I’d been wearing into the laundry posthaste. It’s weird that smoke-reek lingers so long; we kept having to bug people to take breaks and stand outside to clear themselves out. (My snot’s been gray all weekend. Yeah, TMI. I know.)

It’s weird, but I was too busy to even realize the emotional impact until the Servicemaster guys were carrying out the very last pile of stuff–water heater for the espresso machine, whiteboard I use for my writing classes, miscellaneous things–and I suddenly felt like crying. The store’s been a Safe Place and a home away from home for years now. It’s where I go to give good news and celebrate, and where I go when I don’t want to go home but I need to sit and collect myself in a friendly environment. The books in there are all friends, and I know every inch of the place. To see it all empty and dark because the power’s off, ceiling tiles crumbling onto the floor, everything reeking of fire and the carpeting swelling from water still seeping through, already looking sad and abandoned…that was rough.

Still is.

I don’t know what’s going to happen yet. So much depends on the insurance and if there’s a viable way to get the shop up and running again. The owner and I are already talking about the reshelving party–beer, pizza, and a whole ton of people to get the cleaned and revivified books back up on the shelves. “Careful,” I warned her. “I’m hell on wheels when it comes to inventory, reshelving, the whole deal.”

“You be bad cop,” she said with a grin. “I’ll be good cop.”

Which is pretty much the way it works out anyway. At least some things are eternal.

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

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