Cover design by the estimable Ron Miller, incorporating but not limited to "Still Life with Fruit" by Jacob van Walscapelle, 1675.
The vendor-page ad copy will read:
"In this sequel to the novella “Penric’s Mission”, the injured Penric, a Temple sorcerer and learned divine, tries to guide the betrayed General Arisaydia and his widowed sister Nikys across the last hundred miles of hostile Cedonia to safety in the Duchy of Orbas. In the town of Sosie the fugitive party encounters unexpected delays, and even more unexpected opportunities and hazards, as the courtesan Mira of Adria, one of the ten dead women whose imprints make up the personality of the chaos demon Desdemona, comes to the fore with her own special expertise.
Fourth novella in the “Penric and Desdemona” series."
posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on February, 19
Basically these are just asking for input on this year's schedule (tagset nominations in early March, signups in late March, fics due in early June - similar to last year) and a couple of potential rule changes.
On a completely other topic, I was in the school supplies aisle last night looking for a 2-pocket folder (this kind of thing) to replace the falling-apart one I've been using since middle school and don't really like anyway. Don't they have pretty ones anymore?? Do you guys remember all the different fashion folders we used to be able to get, with unicorns or cats or butterflies or whatever? Are those not a thing anymore? It was all solid-colored folders with a tiny handful of sports-themed ones. I wanted unicorns, dammit. :P They didn't even have very many colors. At least I was able to find a purple one.
(Weirdly, it has slowed down my reading speed. Apparently "taking in an entire paragraph at a time" is an ADHD symptom.)
I've had the symptoms my whole life (allllll the way back to elementary school) but was one of the generation of undiagnosed girls because the diagnosis was based on presentation in boys, and my various coping mechanisms have gone to shit in the last few years as my neuroplasticity wanes. It always seemed like way too much effort to pursue the actual diagnosis until now, but holy shit the difference with the goddamn meds.
EDIT: Forgot to add, also, I FINALLY FOUND AN OB-GYN WHO WILL EVICT MY UTERUS FOR ME. Surgery is in 11 days. NO MORE FUCKING CONSTANT UTERINE CRAMPS
WIPs currently active: 6, because I could not resist starting another Pillow Box story to pick up where the last one left off, with 100% more comfort and actual Pillow Box time.
Words written this week: 7,130
WIPs that got no words this week: 2, Cannibalism and Sequel to Saddest Story.
WIPs that did get words this week:
Codename: Aluminum Bastard (aka broken dick epic): 784, almost all of which are getting deleted/rewritten, but on the bright side I think I know where I’m going with the next stretch of the story! Act III is sort of blurring imperceptibly into Act IV here, which means making real! actual! progress! through the arc of the story! and maybe even finishing it someday!!
Born in the Blood: 3,760, so Chapter 12 is getting very close to being done!!
Slavefic #5 (THE DRAMATIC REUNION): 1,295, oh man I keep opening scenes and finding new and different layers and depths of terribleness, what even is this story. Also it’s over 23,000 words at this point, getting close to the midpoint of the story. I think. Approximately.
Pillow Box #5: Comfort/Petting/Sleeping in the Pillow Box: 1,291, just wallowing around in how nice it is when things are only a little bit terrible for Threetoo and Tony…
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2m0Wo13
Dear New York: You gave us a delightful weekend, and we loved visiting you, but now I’m afraid we must depart and return to our Ohio environs. Thank you for having us. We’ll be back again, you can be sure.
(Also, for all of you who want a Hamilton review from me, I’ll be posting one probably tomorrow or Tuesday. Tune in then!)
This is the third chunk of data and analysis from the 2016 Novelist Income Survey.
A number of people have asked how the number of books published in 2016 correlates with income, particularly with indie writers. We saw in part two that authors who primarily self-publish can do quite well. Is volume one of the secrets to success, and is it a greater factor for indie writers than traditionally the published?
I used the same method as before for separating out authors who were primarily indie, primarily large press, and primarily small press.
Three survey questions asked how many books respondents had published in 2016 through a large press, a small press, and through self-publishing. This brings me to my first data quandary. When I’m looking at the indie authors, do I count just the number of books they self-published, or the total number of books? Because a lot of our authors are hybrid, those numbers won’t be the same. So I graphed the data both ways, and found that the results — particularly the trend line — looked pretty much identical.
I decided to go with the total number of books published in any category, and to see how that number affected income for authors who were primarily indie, small press, or large press.
I removed the highest outlier from each graph below, both because it appeared to be disproportionately influencing the results, and because it threw off the scale and made it harder to see the rest of the data points. Because this was using net income, I also removed the handful of authors who didn’t report any expenses, since I had no way of calculating those net incomes.
Small Press Authors:
Large Press Authors:
Everyone’s clear on the correlation =/= causation thing by now, right? That said, the trend lines on the three graphs are pretty striking. For authors who are primarily indie, the graph suggests a correlation between number of books published and overall income. The correlation for small press is significantly smaller.
But most fascinating to me is that for large press authors, the line is essentially flat. The authors with 8 or 10 large press novels in 2016 made roughly the same as the average author with 1 or 2 large press books. Excellent news for the one book/year folks with big publishers.
Median and Average Books/Year
As I was wrapping up, it occurred to me that I should compare how prolific the different types of author were. This turned out to be interesting as well, though not too surprising.
Books Published in 2016: Median (Average)
- Large Press 1 (1.2)
- Small Press 1 (1.3)
- Indie Press 2 (3.1)
While the median large and small press author published one book last year, the median indie published two. The difference in the average numbers is even stronger.
There are exceptions to everything, of course. I know some ridiculously prolific and successful big-press authors. But overall, I think this supports to the idea that success in self-publishing depends more strongly on how many books you can put out. It also shows that indie authors are following that approach and getting more books out there.
One last note. (Or maybe just one last excuse to post a pie chart.) 63 authors reported a net loss in 2016. 36 of those were indie authors. 19 were small press. 8 were large press.
Intuitively, this makes a kind of sense. Self-publishing requires the author to invest in the up-front production costs, as well as marketing. But I’d want to collect a lot more data than I have before coming to any firm conclusions.
In Our Next Episode
I’m very curious to look at the hours/week spent on promotion and marketing, and to see how much that correlates with income. In other words, does all that work we do trying to get our names out there really have an impact? (I’m guessing the answer may be very different depending on whether or not you’re large press, small press, or indie.)
Kidlet: "So in college she and her dorm-mates would flash their boobs at each other. They gave each other nicknames based on their nipples."
Me: "In the great continuum from Very Heterosexual to Not Really All That Heterosexual, nipple nicknames are ..."
Kidlet: "In the Uncanny Valley of straight-white-girl sexuality."
"Our Man Bashir"
I don't know whose idea this episode was, but it's brilliant. Of course Julian imagines himself as James Bond. And of course Garak's professional pride is offended. And it gives Garak the opportunity to talk about Bashir's fantasies a lot. In his usual pointed way.
Yet again, everyone of the main cast (excepting Bashir and Odo) is on one runabout. This is honestly not a good idea, guys. Which is proved by what happens. This is also typical of Star Trek's treatment of the holodeck technology, where they do something that has huge implications for things like mortality and consciousness, but it's completely brushed aside.
Avery Brooks is pulling a full-on Brent Spiner. He's playing a Bond villain, and by god, he's gonna commit to it.
Dax seriously breaks into Odo's quarters to rearrange his furniture? That's pretty shitty.
Hey, it's Brock Peters! Hello, Papa Sisko. And that's the woman who played Geordi's holodeck girlfriend on TNG. That's kind of weird. Though I guess Brock Peters was in the Star Trek movies.
See, you know Joseph Sisko's restaurant is in New Orleans because there is literally an entire alligator hanging from the ceiling. And he said "crayfish." Uh, no. They do pretty well with the setting, but crayfish is an absolute no. Okay, now they're supposedly walking to Audubon Park, which is not within easy walking distance of the French Quarter. Oh, lord, he pronounced "boudin" as "boo-deen."
I'm sure I've said this before, but the thing that stands out to me, in terms of the difference between TNG and DS9, is that DS9 usually presents moral situations that have no good choice. Changelings have infiltrated Earth and the Federation's leadership. This is obviously terrible. But is the right answer to increase security measures? How far? Do you infringe on billions of people's rights in order to find one changeling? One changeling who can do untold amounts of damage? Troops on the street keep people safe, but how long should they be there? What powers should they have?
I swear, I didn't plan for my DS9 rewatch to be so timely.
She harassed me for years and is still doing it; she carried on elaborate campaigns to destroy the careers of other pro writers in her genre; she befriended people and then blackmailed them; the list goes on. As far as anyone can tell, she's devoted her entire life to being horrible, online and off, for a minimum of twelve years now.
I have encountered a lot of mean people in my life. But Winterfox is the only person I've ever known who makes people miserable as a full-time job. I literally do not know how she finds the time to bully as many people as she does, as constantly as she does. She could afford to bankroll organizations protecting human rights or rescuing orphan kittens. She could create her own publishing house. She could go on really awesome long vacations. But no. She just hunches over her computer 24-7, spewing vitriol in all directions.
I think we need a word that means "pathetic and a little bit darkly funny, but also genuinely harmful." I suggest "winterfoxy."
So why am I posting now? What's new?
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Winterfox is still doing everything she used to do, as far as I can tell. She still makes death threats. The people she blackmailed are still being blackmailed. She still harasses me in the exact same way she always did: I review a comic book about gay men in Iran, she accuses me on Twitter of being a child abuser.
At least, I assume she's still attacking me. I have asked (and still ask) people to not inform me if they see her saying anything about me. Since I don't do Twitter anyway, this means I miss about 99% of her activities and so only randomly and occasionally hear about it when she lies about or abuses me. Last time was about six months ago, so I imagine I'm due. Bring it, Winterfox. If you tweet about me a thousand times, I'll probably hear about one of them. I'm sure you'll find that motivational.
I am writing about her again for a couple reasons. One is to link to a surprisingly funny (considering the subject matter) essay by my friend, fantasy author Zen Cho, Being an Itemized List of Disagreements . Another is a thoughtful and heartfelt post by another friend, artist and writer M Sereno, A Letter to Apex Editors . Both were written to protest the embrace of a vicious and destructive bully, protect vulnerable people from her, and alert people who might not know exactly who they're dealing with to her past and current activities.
That's also why I posted. (So linking is fine.) Winterfox doesn't scare me any more. She's way too much of a coward to risk hiring a hit man, let alone confronting me in person. Anyone who believes I'm a child abuser or pro-rape or whatever because some rando on Twitter said so is not only not someone whose opinion I care about, they probably don't even know who the hell I am. I don't go to science fiction conventions, so she can't get me ostracized there. There's really nothing she can do to harm me.
But there are other people she can harm. There are people she is harming right now. She and her supporters make the science fiction world unwelcoming to her targets, who are disproportionately women of color. They also make it unwelcoming to onlookers who see people like them getting abused with impunity and even applause, and decide to go elsewhere. Not fucking okay, Winterfox supporters!
Sometimes life hands you difficult and complex ethical problems in which the right thing to do is genuinely unclear. This is not one of them. If you are endorsing someone whose big contribution to your field is to tell women of color that they should be raped by dogs, you are not one of the good guys.
I'm not calling for a boycott of her fiction. I'm not even saying you should stop being buds with her, though if you are, for God's sake don't email her anything she could hold over you later. What I am saying is that you should not ostracize people on her account, join in on bullying, believe anything she says about anyone without checking it yourself, brush off her death threats, or invite her to a roundtable on intersectionality. For instance.
Also, if you see someone interacting with her who doesn't know her history, you might want to warn them. I told her once to stop verbally abusing people, and I have now been harassed by her for six years and counting. Others thought she was their friend, and are still being blackmailed by her. If people know about her and choose to interact with her anyway, that's up to them. But if they don't know, a heads-up might save them a world of trouble.
If you already totally agree with me and would like to get Winterfox's goat, I have some suggestions for ruining her day.
You could donate to Outright Action International . They do stellar work in international LGBTIQ rights. I raise money for them, and Winterfox attacks me every time I do it online. So clearly, donating to them would really annoy her.
You could buy some art from M Sereno. It's gorgeous, and I bet it would really piss Winterfox off to know that people are financially supporting and appreciating the work of someone who had the nerve to speak out about her. Especially, to continue the theme of queer rights, the lovely print "To Live."
You could buy Zen Cho's awesome books, ditto: Sorcerer to the Crown, The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo, Spirits Abroad, and The Terracotta Bride.
You could buy or review books by people she harasses and whose careers she's tried to destroy, and also by people who supported them. That list is very long so I'll just link to a few: The Grass King's Concubine by Kari Sperring, Serpentine by Cindy Pon, Glass Houses: Avatars Dance by Laura Mixon, To Shape the Dark (Feral Astrogators) by Athena Andreadis, Rosewater by Tade Thompson, The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin, Shadowboxer by Tricia Sullivan, The Red Tree by Caitlin Kiernan, Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord, Mindplayers by Pat Cadigan, and What Fates Impose (includes a story by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz).
I initially wasn't going to post more than just links to the other two posts. I'm seriously ill and didn't think I had the energy for either the writing of or the fallout from a post like this. But when I started, I realized that in fact, I'm sick enough that I really don't give a damn. Also, apparently thinking about Winterfox gives me some energy. The WTF factor alone could launch a thousand ships.
I realized something else, too. No matter how bad things get for me, I will always have one thing to be grateful for: at least I'm not Winterfox.
Books are often turned into television series — but what about stories going to the other direction? As Matt Ruff shows you in this Big Idea for Lovecraft Country, stories intended for one medium sometimes find their full flower in another entirely.
Lovecraft Country started out as a TV series pitch. The big idea was to create a show like The X-Files, in which a recurring cast of characters had weekly paranormal adventures—only instead of being white FBI agents, my protagonists are a black family who own a travel agency in 1950s Chicago. The agency publishes a quarterly magazine, The Safe Negro Travel Guide, that lists and reviews hotels and restaurants open to black customers. (Such travel guides actually existed during the Jim Crow era, and contrary to what you might expect, they were most useful to travelers in the northern and western U.S., where discrimination was just as common as in the south but explicit “Whites Only” signs were rarer.)
My lead character, Atticus Turner, is a 22-year-old Army veteran who works as a field researcher for the Guide. Atticus is also a nerd whose familiarity with genre fiction comes in handy when things start to get weird, as they do: It turns out Atticus is the last living descendant of Titus Braithwhite, an 18th-century wizard and slave trader who founded a cabal called the Order of the Ancient Dawn. Now the modern incarnation of the Order has plans for Atticus.
In addition to occult forces, Atticus and his family have to deal with the more mundane terrors of American racism, such as sundown towns. Lovecraft Country’s title is a nod to this duality of horrors—H.P. Lovecraft being known for both his tales of cosmic dread and his embrace of white supremacy.
While transforming my original idea into a novel, I kept the structure of a season of television. The long opening chapter, like a two-hour pilot, introduces the main characters and sends them on a dangerous cross-country journey. Each subsequent chapter offers a self-contained weird tale—a “monster of the week” episode—starring a different member of Atticus’s extended family. In “Dreams of the Which House,” Atticus’s friend Letitia buys a haunted house in a white neighborhood and has to play the dead off against the living to keep what’s hers. In “Abdullah’s Book,” Atticus’s uncle George enlists his Freemasons’ lodge to stop an ancient treatise on magic from falling into the wrong hands. In “Hippolyta Disturbs the Universe,” Atticus’s aunt discovers a portal to another world. In “Jekyll in Hyde Park,” Letitia’s sister Ruby goes home with the wrong guy and wakes up to find that she’s been turned into a white woman. In “The Narrow House,” a dead man forces Atticus’s father to revisit the 1921 Tulsa race riot. In “Horace and the Devil Doll,” corrupt Chicago police detectives use sorcery to terrorize Atticus’s 12-year-old cousin. All of these episodes fit together to form a larger arc story about Atticus’s struggle against the Braithwhite clan and the Order of the Ancient Dawn.
For me, Lovecraft Country demonstrates the real power of diversity in art. By focusing on people who were traditionally excluded from genre fiction, I’m able to do interesting new things with some very old tropes, while simultaneously exploring aspects of our shared history that aren’t as well-known as they should be. Combining fantasy with realism produces a richer story than would be possible with either alone. And despite being set sixty years in the past, this is easily one of the most topical books I’ve written—though that says less about my skills as an author than it does about the state of the country that I live in.
Yesterday's stats are making me laugh even harder - I wrote about 50 words of Barry Allen telling Bruce Wayne to go to bed, some Brad and Ray talking about a lizard Ray used to own in the Pacific Rim AU, Brad making not-fun of Ray's burned face in a different GK story, Finn offering to help with droid maintenance, and Hannibal and Will talking about chickens (they are sort of obliquely discussing whether or not to remove from this earth the lizard that Will sees running around, so I guess it's sort of death-related? And why did I write so much about lizards yesterday?).
Speaking of food AND NOT LIZARDS, new snacks at the Ads arena: "Saz’s will offer beef brisket and barbecue pork sandwiches as well as a smoked honey turkey wrap. Side dishes will be cheese curds, mozzarella marinara sticks, sour cream and chive fries and a combo plate of all three sides." Meat sandwiches whatever, SOUR CREAM AND CHIVE FRIES FOREVER.
Still can't get my hair to Swinton appropriately but I am also not putting much effort into it. I think it would require more product than I want to deal with and probably finding my blow dryer. (I know I owned one a few years ago but rarely used it. Where is it? I don't know.)
Apparently The Great Wall is a trainwreck. I am not surprised. Upstairs Lady and I are hopefully going to see John Wick Ch. 2 this weekend - it's only taken us since last June to make movie plans. We were going to see the Bourne movie (for my birthday) but then I was so overwhelmingly upset about it that we did not. She said she'd go see the new Alien movie with me in May, though, so I won't be watching Fassbender be a cyborg alone and terrified.
This morning in my Nate Fick alert was this video from last April. I just... I could never meet real Nate in person because I would shake so hard I couldn't walk and it would be horribly embarrassing. (Also why I was so glad I didn't win the Matt+Ben Omaze thing. Someone would have had to carry me into the restaurant from the car, or else call an ambulance when I tripped over the curb. "I gave $500 to charity that I can't even deduct from my taxes and all I got was a trip to the hospital." [Note: I did not give them $500.])
Then I went to give him insulin and discovered that the vet ordered the wrong needles for us, so I have to take the box back tomorrow. The new needles are bigger than the old ones and only have full-unit markings. Which, since Dreadful gets 1/2 a unit if he needs insulin in the morning and a 1/4 unit if he needs insulin at night, kind of doesn't work.
In other news, today I spent several hours in chat with brownbetty, staranise and stultiloquentia in a wide-ranging meta conversation that started as a discussion of different modes of shipping/engaging with canon (set off by brownbetty's poll on what people mean by "I ship it" and some of the comments thereon), and then veered off into a discussion of the differences between the way fans ship characters and the way canon creators write romantic relationships.
It's probably at least two posts worth of discussion, but I'm too tired to write any of it up tonight. Hopefully I'll be able to get to some of it tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I'm reading a bunch of Chocolate Box fic. I suspect that'll be my next recs post. It's all fairly short, so I might even get through a bunch of it before creator reveals.
The Vor Game:
The Vor Game, back:
Ethan of Athos:
Ethan of Athos, back:
posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on February, 19
This is the second chunk of data and analysis from the 2016 Novelist Income Survey. (Part one is here.)
I wanted to focus next on large press vs. small press vs. indie/self-publishing. The goal is not to settle the neverending argument about which route is better, because that’s a silly argument, and I’m not going to waste time on it.
Analyzing income data this way was tricky for several reasons. What qualifies as a large press vs. a small press? What about hybrid authors who choose multiple paths? And how does the self-selected nature of this study’s participants skew results?
The survey asked how many books you published with a large publisher, a small publisher, and through self-publishing in your lifetime, and how many books you published with a large publisher, a small publisher, and through self-publishing in 2016. Respondents used their own judgement to decide what large/small/self-published meant with respect to their work.
The majority of authors qualified as hybrid, with books in more than one category. So for this analysis, I looked at how each author had published the majority of their books during their lifetime. For example, with 12 books through large publishers, 1 small-press, and 1 self-published novel, my personal data went into the Large Publisher bucket. Someone with 4 large press, 5 small press, and 2 self-pubbed would be in the Small Publisher bucket.
(I also ran the same analysis looking only at 2016 publications, and the results were nearly identical. We lost some data there though, since a number of people had zero books out in 2016.)
As for the self-selection part? I cast my net as wide as I could, but that net went out mostly through writing boards and email lists and social media. Someone who self-published a single book as a hobby or for the fun of it would be less likely to hear about the survey. Likewise, authors who published a lot in the past but aren’t actively writing/publishing today wouldn’t necessarily be “in the loop” for this stuff. I can’t say exactly how this affected the data; only that, as I mentioned yesterday, it isn’t a truly random or representative sample. But with 381 authors weighing in, I still think it’s a pretty good one.
Here’s where our 381 authors fell on the large/small/indie scale:
- Primarily Large Press: 114
- Primarily Small Press: 55
- Primarily Indie: 212
Again, keep in mind that the information here is correlation, not causation. Deciding whether to try to publish with a large publisher, a small press, or to self-publish is so much more than just looking at the data from a single survey. Each path requires a lot of work, and I strongly recommend everyone do their research before deciding what’s going to work best for them.
Let’s Talk Money!
I started by looking at the gross income (before expenses) for each category. Well, that’s not entirely true. I really started by doing a poll on Twitter to ask people which group they thought would have the highest net income. I figured that could let us tap into common beliefs and compare them to the data. Here’s what the informal Twitter results had 74% of people expecting Large Press authors to be the biggest money-makers. Self-published came in second place, with 17%. Small Press was at 9%.
Before we look at the net, let’s start with gross income numbers. As before, I think the median is the most useful figure here, since the very successful outliers tend to skew the averages. Median gross income for each category was:
- Large Press: $28,000
- Small Press: $2,400
- Indie: $29,000
Average income followed a similar pattern.
I don’t think those numbers should come as a shock to most people. But they’re not the whole picture, either. We need to look at the expenses for each category as well. Self-published authors cover the costs of things like cover art, copy-editing, and so on, things a commercial press takes care of for its authors. Then there’s marketing and publicity and conventions and all the rest…
A handful of people left this question blank. They’ve been omitted from this part. If someone reported a 0 for this question, they were included.
The median expenses for each category were:
- Large Press: $2,900
- Small Press: $1,000
- Indie: $4,000
How does this affect the net income? Indie authors still have the largest median income, which was predicted by only 19% of the folks in our informal Twitter Poll. The large press authors once again take the highest average. (I think this is mostly because of one large press author whose income was significantly higher than any others.)
Here are those numbers, with median first and average in parentheses.
- Large Press: $19,000 ($125,021)
- Small Press: $975 ($19,166)
- Indie: $23,050 ($108,210)
One of the questions I asked was whether people’s writing income had increased, decreased, or stayed roughly the same from 2015 to 2016. I think it’s encouraging that 53% of all respondents saw an increase, with another 20% reporting that their income remained roughly the same. Writing novels tends not to be the most financially stable profession, but only 27% reported seeing their income decrease.
This got interesting. 60.4% of indie authors saw an increase in earnings, compared to 50.9% of small press and only 39.5% of large press authors. Only 17% of indie authors saw their earnings decrease, compared to 27.3% of small press and 23.7% of large press.
Like I said, I’d be careful about drawing broad-sweeping conclusions from any of this, but it’s certainly an encouraging sign for my indie author friends. Realistically, though? Given the economy, the fact that all three groups saw more increases than decreases is a very good thing.
I’ve got a lot more data to play with. I want to look at factors like genre, hours/week spent writing, hours/week spent on promotion, total number of books published, how long ago the author started publishing, and more.
Short version: I have plenty to keep me busy in the coming days!
Not here on business — well, that’s not entirely true, I’m doing a little bit of business while I’m here. But I’m mostly here for a Valentine’s weekend with Krissy, where the plan is to camp out in a hotel room, order lots of room service, and maybe see the play that’s going on across the street. Some play called “Hamilton”? About some old historical dude? Rumor is it could use some people coming to see it, so we thought, what the heck, why not support the arts. We’re good that way. Anyway, if I’m scarce around here the next few days, that’s why. Hope you’ll find ways to entertain yourselves nevertheless.
Anyone else encounter this problem lately? Because if it's endemic, this is going to be a much less colorful blog.
Later: when I attempted to upload the exact same scans through Outlook rather than Mozilla, they went up fine. Mysterious...
posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on February, 19
I have a huge thing for choosing a short time of glory over a long stretch of not-so-great, so this premise was right up my alley. I also love the trope of "space will kill you but let's go anyway."
This book is and is not that. The blurb is correct as far as it goes, but the tone and content are not what I expected from it. It's much quieter, the emotions are far more low-key, and what Jimson actually does with his one year before leaving the planet kills him is nowhere near as dramatic as I expected. I liked it for what it was, though the beginning is stronger than the rest, but I'm still looking for the book the blurb promised.
Jimson is an artist with bone cancer under control with treatment, so long as he never goes into space; if he does, it will metastasize and kill him within a year due to radiation exposure. His art is acclaimed in worlds he'll never see, and he's still hung up on Russell, the boyfriend who bailed on him for outer space fourteen years ago and hasn't contacted him since. Jimson has gotten increasingly depressed, bored, artistically blocked, and trapped. Then Russell sends him a photo of himself with no note, and Jimson decides that he's had it: he'll take his one year and go look up Russell.
My favorite part of the book was this part, where Jimson is making his decision and taking interim steps toward it. There's some really beautiful writing and imagery. It's also, despite the sound of it, less about Russell (who has not yet appeared) and more about what Jimson wants to do with his life in general.
Then Jimson finally goes off-planet. I was expecting a desperate, defiant grab at glory and wonder in shimmering not-space. What he actually does is plonk down in a town on another planet, have a low-key affair with a woman pilot, and hang out in a bar. For months. And months. He has ONE YEAR TO LIVE, because he went off-planet, and he spends a whole lot of it not doing anything he couldn't have done on his own planet. I'm not sure if this was the point or what, because eventually Russell shows up and things take a different turn, but also, unfortunately, into anticlimax.
Russell is a giant bag of dicks. Again, I'm not sure if he was supposed to be or not, but I really disliked him. (I did like the portrayal of sexuality - most characters are bisexual and this is unremarked-upon - I just disliked Russell.) He's a space pirate, and realistically they would probably be jerks, but seriously? JERK. He ditches his doomed boyfriend and doesn't contact him for fourteen years, then sends him a photo and nothing else. The vanishing was because he was flipped out over Jimson's illness, and is understandable. The fourteen-years-late space selfie with no note attached? JERK. He then proceeds to be a dick for the rest of the book, though at least Jimson gets to be with him and is at least somewhat pleased about that.
Again, given the suggested delicious melodrama of the premise, Jimson is an incredibly low-key character and so is the book. There's one scene that sort of lives up to the "shimmering hyperspace" bit but Jimson's experience of hyperspace is that it's kind of reddish, and he spends most of it wandering around the spaceship making sure the characters who are doing exciting stuff don't forget to eat.
There's some mild space adventuring which is nowhere near exciting enough that I'd give up my whole life for it, followed by an ending which you may or may not read as a cop-out. ( Read more... )
This is at least the second book I've read in which someone chooses to go into space for a brief period of glory before it kills them. The other is Emma Bull's Falcon, which I like a lot but which skips most of the "period of glory" part, jumping from the moment right before the hero goes into space to several years later, when his time is about to run out.
Does anyone know of any more books with that premise? Especially if they actually write it the way it sounds like.
Only $4.00 on Amazon. A Different Light
Never fear, the editors of Lady Business are here to provide our suggestions as you decide what to prioritize on your TBR. Of course, this is by no means a comprehensive list of everything that might be worthy of a Hugo nomination, nor is it meant to be. It's just a selection of some of the things we loved in 2016, and a few reasons why we loved them, along with some books, stories, and shows we're still hoping to check out ourselves. Each editor's opinions are their own, although we suspect you'd find a fair amount of agreement if we had sat down to discuss our picks.
( Onward to the list! )
Some intrepid googling tells me that it was originally a tie-in for the apparently-awful kids-movie Doogle, and I even found a couple pictures of what it originally looked like (here and here)
I don't know what they used to make this thing, I'm possibly a little scared to find out. Dreadful's been chewing/clawing the hell out of it for 10 years now and while it's rather grody looking (although it has been washed several times) it doesn't even have a single torn spot or ripped seam.
But boy does he love it. He will parade around the house holding it in his mouth and singing to it. We call it Squishy, The Opera. Sadly, we've never been able to get video or audio of this, because as soon as he seems someone watching him he stops.
I did however manage to get a few pics of him playing with it on my bed the other night.
Twice a day Dreadful gets his blood-glucose tested, he gets his two oral meds (for his gastro issues aka that time my cat got constipated and almost died), and he gets insulin if he needs it. Then he gets fed. But there has been a definite learning curve.
Things I have learned from having a diabetic cat, a somewhat irreverent list: ( behind a cut for the needle/blood-phobic )
This is the place to toss out ideas for vidshows you'd like to see at VividCon this year. The official call for programming suggestions and volunteers will go up next Wednesday, February 22nd; this post is for brainstorming and discussion.
(You don't have to want to VJ a vidshow to bring it up for brainstorming; if you have a vidshow you just want to attend, mention it, and maybe someone will adopt it!)
You can view all past vidshows, 2002 - 2016, on the VividCon Vid Database.
For more information on vidshows, you can visit the VividCon programming FAQ.
Come on over and discuss your vidshow ideas! There's no VividCon without vidshows!
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the fabulous lifestyle of the working novelist. Everyone knows once you write a book, the money starts rolling in, right? There’s champagne and movie deals and hanging out with J. K. Rowling and Stephen King and Rick Castle.
Or maybe you’ve heard the opposite extreme, how all novelists are living on water and Ramen, making more money from scrounging couch cushions than we do from the books we’ve poured our blood and souls into.
For nine years, I’ve been doing an annual blog post about my writing income. I know a few other authors who’ve done the same. The main idea is to put the data out there to help build a more realistic picture of life as a working writer.
Those few data points are better than none, but this year, I wanted to go bigger. For roughly six weeks, I collected data from novelists who had at least one book published prior to 12/31/2016. Thank you to everyone who participated, and everyone who spread the word.
Are you read to start going through the results?
There were a total of 386 responses. Five of these were duplicates and were removed, leaving data from 381 individual novelists.
The survey asked questions about the number of novels published, how they were published (large publisher/small press/self-pub), income and expenses, genre, whether or not they used an agent, which country the novelist was in, and more.
As we go through the numbers, please keep in mind:
- This is not a truly random or representative sample. I have no way of reaching all the working novelists in the world, and not everyone who heard about the survey chose to participate. That said, I think 381 is pretty darn good.
- Correlation is not causation. The numbers might show that novelists with an agent make more/less money than novelists without. This doesn’t necessarily mean that having or not having an agent causes you to make more/less money.
- I am not a professional statistician. I’ll do my best, but if you see mistakes, please say something so I can correct them.
I know, I know. Enough with the disclaimers. Let’s get on with the yummy, yummy data!
Let’s start by looking at how much our authors made in 2016 before taxes or expenses. The total ranged from a few dollars to almost five million. Eight novelists made more than a million dollars (before taxes) in 2016.
- I admit, I was a little surprised by this, and wondered if maybe people were exaggerating or hit an extra zero. Fortunately, the survey also asked for an identifier (name or other) and an email address for anyone who wanted to be informed of the survey results. Looking at who was reporting these numbers, I believe they’re accurate.
Average Income: $114,124
Median Income: $17,000
(I think the median is more useful than the average, here. The average is pulled up significantly by those very successful outliers.)
Distribution: As you might have predicted, the distribution is weighted heavily toward the left side of the graph. I removed one far-right outlier for this graph.
Twenty percent made $825 or less. Thirty percent were $3393 or below, and so on.
If you earned at least $296,000, you were in the 90th percentile. And if your writing brought in $1,418,000 or more, you are officially the 1% among novelists.
Gross Income for Different Categories
Let’s play with those numbers a bit more. What happens if we separate agented and unagented authors, full-time vs. part-time, and so on?
Agent vs. Unagented: Of our 381 respondents, 151 were represented by an agent, and 230 were unagented. There’s a significant difference in these two groups, but be careful about drawing too many conclusions here. Does having an agent mean you make more money? Or does making more money mean you’re more likely to want an agent? Or maybe it’s both or neither.
Median income for authors with an agent was $42,000. For authors without an agent, the median was $7000.
Looking at the eight authors who made a million or more, five were represented by agents and three were unagented.
Full Time vs. Part Time: We see a similar pattern here. Disclaimer: the question on the survey asked if writing was “your primary, full-time job” during 2016. I probably could have worded that one a little better, as it’s possible we had writers working 40 hours/week on books and also working full-time elsewhere. But in general, I think the data here are pretty accurate and reliable.
Median income was $3050 for part time writers, and $66,000 for full-timers. Also, all eight of our $1,000,000+ novelists were full-timers.
Does this mean quitting the day job will magically increase your writing income by 22x? NO! Bad reader! Back to logic and statistics class for you!
Anecdotally, I started trying to write full-time at the end of 2015. 2016 saw an increase of about 10-15% in my overall income. But much of that came from a deal I signed before going full time. What does that mean? Heck if I know…
Conclusions So Far…
- It is possible to make a really good living as a novelist…but most of us don’t.
- It is possible to make a million or more as a novelist, with or without an agent…but again, most of us don’t.
- About 80% of novelists make less than $100,000 a year. Half of us make $17,000 or less.
And remember, these numbers are all before taxes or expenses!
In Our Next Episode:
I’ve got a lot more I want to do with the data, but it’s going to take a fair amount of time. (I’m also overdue on a novel deadline, so that has to be my priority.) I’ll continue to post results in sections, which should hopefully make it easier to digest. I’m planning to put the whole thing together and publish it as a big old report when I’m done as well.
I’ll also be sharing the anonymized raw data so other folks can play with it.
I hope this is helpful. If there’s anything in particular you’d like me to look into, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best!
ETA: Here’s the link to the next part.
- 2016 Novelist Income Results, Part 2: The Large/Small/Indie Breakdown
- 2016 Novelist Income Results, Part 3: Number of Books Published in 2016
finished: Siembra un beso (Plant a Kiss) by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Utterly charming. Read in Spanish bc juvenile easy is where my reading skills en español are these days. Fun practice!
still reading: The New Tsar by Stephen Lee Myers. All the ghastly abuses of power in the news are making this harder to get through, even though it's a good bio so far.
New design! It's supposed to be in the mid-80s this weekend for the #NoBanNoWall march/protest here, and that is way, way too hot for a pussyhat. I'm still poking at the pattern, but my plan is to post it free & shareable, in line with the #pussyhat project mission.
The annual war against spider-mites has begun. Bougainvilleas are amazingly pest-resistant, except when their leaves are very young. Thank everything for neem oil.
dudes in my house
Most of my past week was eaten by spring cleaning. Yesterday the city utility sent a team of four guys, along with our maintenance lady, to install low-flow aerators and shower heads and LED lightbulbs in all the built-in fixtures. (I imagine there was a grant? IDK.) I ended up having a nice chat with a couple of them, wishing each other a completely ironic "Happy Valentine's Day...for whatever that might be worth" to bittersweet laughter all around. Yay singletons? Weird as hell to have so many people in my home, but good to have a cleanish house again.
Mike Richards lives!, because Hockey Day in Canada is in Kenora this year. I hope he's actually playing in the alumni game because that would just be sad that he didn't get invited to the rec center on the street that's named after him.
I wrote a thousand words before 10:30 this morning, but I also got to work at 5. (There was a point where I went to K's office and said very dramatically, "K, it's only ten o'clock in the morning.") Tomorrow we're making tacos for K's birthday so that will break up the day a little more but twelve hour shifts are not my favorite thing. Except for how I have time to write 1k before noon. I can live with that.
Today in things making me teary-eyed and that there should be movies about: Ida Lewis and Kate Walker, both lighthouse keepers. (Um, I might be researching lighthouse-keeping for the Hannibal story I am halfheartedly working on.)
3rd shift is back March 1st!!!!!!!! I immediately put in a time off request for the first two days of Spring Break. STAYCATION FOR MEEBS.
So! Here’s what’s news in the land of The Collapsing Empire:
1. A review of the book is up from Booklist, and it’s pretty great. Here’s the bit I especially like: “Fans of Game of Thrones and Dune will enjoy this bawdy, brutal, and brilliant political adventure”. It also praises my “well-known wit, whimsy, and ear for dialogue that is profane and laugh-out-loud funny.” I will accept both of those statements!
2. But don’t just take Booklist’s word for it. Tor.com, having previously published the prologue to The Collapsing Empire, has also published the first two chapters of the book: Here’s Chapter One, and here’s Chapter Two. Chapter Three will be up tomorrow. Happy reading!
3. The Collapsing Empire book tour is already pretty extensive — 22 dates over five weeks — but it may soon be getting even more extensiver! (Note: “extensiver” is not a real word.) We’re currently negotiating adding at least one more date to the tour. When/if it gets locked in I will let you all know. It should be soon now.
4. Uuuuuuhhhh, that’s it for now.
Behind the cut, a tour of some of the new stuff we've done in the last few months, plus a look at some older changes that could use more love:
* Image Hosting Frontend
* HTTPS Beta
* Create Entries Beta: progress report
* Selective comment screening
* Other alphabets in site search: fixed!
* Icon file size limit increased
* Dreamwidth: Did You Know?
* Team Dreamwidth
( DW News, 15 Feb 2017 )
That's it from us for another update! As always, if you're having problems with Dreamwidth, Support can help you; for notices of site problems and downtime, check the Twitter status page.
Comment notifications may be delayed for an hour or two, due to the high volume of notifications generated after an update is posted to dw_news. This was posted at 5:35AM EST (see in your time zone). Please don't worry about delayed notifications until at least two hours after that.
DREAMWIDTH NOW HAS IMAGE HOSTING!
Information can be found in the most recent code tour. Scroll down to issue 1936. Currently everyone gets 500MB of image hosting, but that may change in the future.
To upload images in the site menu go to Create/Upload Images and it will bring up this page: Upload Images
To edit images follow the link from that page or go to Organize/Manage Images which will take you to this page: Bulk Edit Images
And to celebrate, have a couple pictures of Dreadful!
Sam comes to visit Threetoo in the penthouse.
Threetoo's first mutual interaction with Sam.
Threetoo meeting someone new and Tony talking him though it?
This is set during Chapter 9 of "Sink Right to the Floor," so Sam is having one hell of a day.
The Pillow Box: Collected Slave-verse Tumblr Fics (13698 words) by Dira Sudis
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America (Movies), Iron Man (Movies)
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: James "Bucky" Barnes & Tony Stark
Characters: James "Bucky" Barnes, Tony Stark, Jarvis (Iron Man movies), Stark Robots (Marvel), Sam Wilson (Marvel)
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Slavery, Alternate Universe - Dystopia, Master/Slave, Hurt/Comfort, Kneeling, Cuddling & Snuggling, Rewards, Bananas, Robots, Weight Issues, Food Issues, Bathing/Washing, POV Outsider, Eating Disorders, Vomiting
Series: Part 3 of All These Burning Hearts in Hell
Collected ficlets from the All These Burning Hearts in Hell 'verse, starring Tony and Threetoo with Threetoo's pillow nest in a supporting role. Prompts for each ficlet in the chapter's summary.
For Valentine's Day (Friendship Day in Finland), a multi-fandom friendship commentfic fest (art also welcome). Go leave some prompts! ♥ I really would like to write something sweet and simple to get my head out of the gloom spiral it's been stuck in lately, so prompts for Agent Carter, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, or White Collar might have a pretty good chance of getting something written for them. Just saying.
The Google doodle for Valentine's is A PANGOLIN DATING GAME. (Sort of.) You roll your little pangolin and collect items to bake a cake, sing a song, etc. for your pangolin sweetie. There are also adorable little pangolin courting animations, all involving pangolins of unspecific/neutral gender, because pangolins.
I'm feeling much better now. Also, the fact that my user accounts at work had all dried up and needed to be reauthorized but the new computer I'm supposed to have isn't here yet is pretty annoying. Now that my account works and I'm on the computer that I can't do any work from, it's more amusing. :-P
Today is the last day I’ll be collecting data for the 2016 Novelist Income Survey. If you’ve published at least one novel prior to 12/31/2016, you’re eligible to participate.
We currently have 380 responses. I’d LOVE to see it get to 400. (I’m a sucker for round numbers.)
Thanks again to everyone who’s participated and spread the word so far.
Also fortunately, he recently bargained me into getting a copy of the fifth Harry Potter movie. (He paid for half of it out of his saved allowance.) We finished it last night, but he is happy to watch it again. So he is ensconced on the couch with several stuffed animals and a cosy blanket, watching Order of the Phoenix again.
He has informed me that he REALLY does not like Umbridge. (I told him that's a sign of good judgment on his part.)
Yesterday's stats - I think the bit I wrote of the original project influenced things heavily; the characters in one section are talking about death and the characters in another section are unearthing a skeleton.
There's a Gotham prequel tie-in novel that I picked up in the Kindle edition hoping it would have the Alfred backstory I need to write this platonic name-on-wrist story, and it does! However, it apparently got completely jossed by the third season of the show (according to the internet), so all the Pinewood stuff it talks about is no longer correct. The writing is also TERRIBLE. But that's fine, because I only needed to be able to search it to look for Alfred details. Still have to re-watch the first season of the show before I go much further in the story, but there was enough in the book to allow me to write the beginning. \o/
My new 'salem's Lot story has gotten very weird very fast. #onbrand
Shakespeare is a font of inspiration for writers, not only for the words he put to paper, but for the worlds built around the words. For her new novel Miranda and Caliban, Jacqueline Carey explores the world of The Tempest, one of the bard’s greatest plays. What does she find there? Here she is to tell you.
In William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the action of the entire play unfolds over the course of a single day. But what happened in the twelve years on the island leading up to that day? Why does the magus Prospero keep his daughter Miranda ignorant of her history? Why does he take the supposedly monstrous Caliban under his wing, and keep him there after Caliban attempts to rape Miranda?
Telling the story of those twelve years and answering those questions was my Big Idea.
From the beginning, I had a strong sense that this story ought to be told in the alternating narrative voices of the two characters in whom I was most interested, Miranda and Caliban. I also wanted to work within the structural confines of Shakespeare’s text, which presented an immediate challenge, as we’re told in The Tempest that Caliban didn’t possess the gift of language until Prospero and Miranda taught it to him. But challenges are interesting things, because they force you to stretch and grow as a writer.
I envisioned my Caliban as we first encounter him not as a grown man, but a “wild boy,” as Miranda calls him; essentially, a feral child born on the island and left to fend for himself after the death of his mother. In the course of researching children raised without human contact, I learned that children who had acquired language skills prior to their isolation were in some cases able to reacquire them.
This, then, determined the arc of my two narrative voices. Over the course of the book, Miranda grows from a precocious, tender-hearted six-year-old girl to a frustrated young woman grappling with adult issues she hasn’t been given the tools to understand, and her voice reflects this evolution. By contrast, Caliban’s voice emerges in a halting and tentative fashion, at first a mere handful of words repeated in a rhythmic manner. At times in The Tempest, he sings ditties to himself and I chose to incorporate that element, giving his evolving narrative voice a singsong quality laced with guttural and susurrant notes, a tendency toward onomatopoeia, and an inconsistent grasp of grammar and tense.
I gave him desire.
I gave him anger, too.
Once you start delving under the surface, there are a lot of ideas to be unpacked in The Tempest. Many scholars believe that Shakespeare was influenced by the essays of Michel de Montaigne, one of the early proponents of the “noble savage” notion of humanity, which provided one motive for Prospero’s academic interest in Caliban, a figure raised without the benefit—or taint—of human civilization.
Speaking of Prospero, the nature of his magic was another one of the greatest challenges this book presented me. Although the magus is a distant, cold and controlling character in my vision, I wanted to offer a genuine depiction of a Renaissance magician, so I immersed myself in the study of Renaissance magic.
That shit is mad complicated, you guys.
And the complex chemistry and detailed mathematical calculations involved in alchemy and astronomy don’t lend themselves to good storytelling, so I chose to focus on the one element of Renaissance magic that offered the most vibrant symbolism—the depiction of specific images representing the decans of the thirty-six degrees of the Zodiac utilized to evoke celestial correspondences.
See what I mean?
But it was a decision that allowed me to give my Miranda greater agency within her own story. I made her an artist, a painter, a keen observer of the natural world, able to translate the image of a slit-eyed goat into a proud-necked horse, of a hissing and coiled serpent into a defiant and foot-trodden dragon.
To what end?
That, she does not know.
Flu Season (4406 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Teen Wolf (TV)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski
Characters: Derek Hale, Stiles Stilinski, Sheriff Stilinski
Additional Tags: Sickfic, Hurt/Comfort, Emotional Hurt/Comfort
Derek knows that humans get sick and then get better, he does. It's just very unnerving when it is Stiles getting sick.
Also, it was great to wake up to a couple lovely bits of feedback for my own Chocolate Box art, which warms my heart. *__*
Go check out the rest of the archive: Chocolate Box 2017
No Less Unthinkable (79437 words) by rageprufrock
Fandom: Yuri!!! on Ice (Anime)
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
In which Katsuki Yuuri fights a losing battle with chronic anxiety, the quadruple Salchow, and his own judgment four drinks in — but wins the war.
Very, sincerely, NSFW. Really long. Warm and funny and real and absolutely worth your while.