Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, writer, and possessed by cats

Tag: According to Hoyt (Page 1 of 2)

An update, a few thoughts and a little promo

Although not necessarily in that order.

Yesterday really got away from me. To start, I had two blog posts up. One at Mad Genius Club and one over at According to Hoyt. Whenever I wind up blogging on the same day at both sites, I figure any controversy will arise at ATH. That is where I can talk about things non-publishing related. Yesterday was no different. I wrote about my experiences travelling behind the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Soviet Union and how I wish those who extol the virtue of Communism and Socialism would actually spend time in countries ruled by those isms before deciding to condemn what we have here. MGC, on the other hand, was one of those posts where I wrote about my interpretation of someone else’s post about used bookstores, etc. Boy oh boy, did MGC blow up.

Let’s put it this way: for the first time that I remember, I added an editorial comment clarifying that I had inferred something from the article instead of the author actually saying it. I’ll let you guys go over and read the post, and the one I linked to, as well as the comments. Then I recommend you read Sarah A. Hoyt’s post on MGC today. She has some very good advice that touches on what happened yesterday as well as things she has seen during her career. My last comment on what happened yesterday was that it kept me so busy that little work was accomplished.

So work. I have finished the draft for Honor from Ashes, Book 4 in the Honor and Duty series, as noted and it is available for pre-order. You’ll find the link to it, as well as to some of my other work immediately following. The book will be available for download April 18th.

I hear you wondering what I will be doing between now and then. Part of the working day will be spent getting Honor ready for final download. That’s going to consist of the usual proofreading as well as some scene expansion/deletion. This is the longest I’ve had a book up for pre-order and I’m doing it this way so those of you who have been waiting so long for it know it is finally coming.

And yes, as I anticipated, there will be at least one more book after this using these characters. I could have wrapped up the story arc in one book but it would have been close to 300k words and that is just too much. I would have had to charge more than I wanted to and more than most folks want to pay for an e-book. As a print book, it would have turned into a doorstop. Not good. At least not in my opinion.

Now, you’ll note I said “part of the working day”. The other part will be spent working on Skeletons in the Closet. Actually, what will probably happen is I’ll work on Honor a certain number of days a week and Skeletons the other days of the week. Part of the reason for this is because I don’t want to rush the final edits on Honor. There is plenty of time to make sure they are done right. The other part of the reason is because Skeletons has gotten very loud again and I figure it’s finally time to finish writing it.

Oh, and then there are the folks in my crit group who have started threatening me if I don’t get it done.

What work I did do yesterday was going over what I had written on Skeletons and making changes I felt were necessary. That meant a few changes here and there in some chapters and a major rewrite of one scene in another. But it is moving on and I am starting to see where this might be going. Of course, there was one part of it I hadn’t remembered writing and that is a very odd feeling, let me tell you.

Snippets will follow.

Now for the promo, because I am in this for the money. (I know, I know. I’m not supposed to admit I’m capitalist enough to want to actually be paid for my work. Sorry, but I’m not into suffering for my art. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m not willing to see my work in used bookstores or libraries because they serve the purpose of letting people discover my work without feeling like they are taking a financial risk they might not be able to afford. If you wonder where this came from, follow the link above to MGC yesterday.) For those of you who have been following my blog entries here and elsehwere, you know that this last two months have been busy ones for me. I’ve managed to publish two novels and put a third up for pre-order.

Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) is now available for pre-order. Release is set for April 18th.

War isn’t civilized and never will be, not when there are those willing to do whatever is necessary to win. That is a lesson Col. Ashlyn Shaw learned the hard way. Now she and those under her command fight an enemy determined to destroy their home world. Worse, an enemy lurks in the shadows, manipulating friend and foe alike.

Can Ashlyn hold true to herself and the values of her beloved Corps in the face of betrayal and loss? Will honor rise from the ashes of false promises and broken faith? Ashlyn and the Devil Dogs are determined to see that it does, no matter what the cost.

Slay Bells Ring is a mixture of mystery and romance, with the emphasis more on mystery. This is the book that forced me to write it.

Fifteen years ago, Juliana Grissom left Mossy Creek in her rear view mirror. She swore then she would never return for more than a day or two at a time. But even the best laid plans can go awry, something she knew all too well, especially when her family was involved.

Now she’s back and her family expects her to find some way to clear her mother of murder charges. Complicating her life even further is Sam Caldwell, the man she never got over. Now it seems everyone in town is determined to find a way to keep her there, whether she wants to stay or not.

Bodies are dropping. Gossip is flying and Juliana knows time is running out. After all, holidays can be murder in Mossy Creek.

And finally, Nocturnal Challenge, the fourth book in the Nocturnal Lives series.

Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4)

By Amanda Green

The one thing Lt. Mackenzie Santos had always been able to count on was the law. But that was before she started turning furry. Now she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy to keep the truth from the public-at-large. She knows they aren’t ready to learn that monsters are real and they might be living next door.

If that isn’t enough, trouble is brewing among the shapeshifters. The power struggle has already resulted in the kidnapping and near fatal injury of several of Mac’s closest friends. She is now in the middle of what could quickly turn into a civil war, one that would be disastrous for all of them.

What she wouldn’t give to have a simple murder case to investigate and a life that didn’t include people who wanted nothing more than to add her death to the many they were already responsible for.

The first three volumes (Nocturnal Origins, Nocturnal Serenade and Nocturnal Interlude
are available individually or as the Nocturnal Lives “boxed set”.) are also available.

Special Types of Entitled by Kate Paulk (reposted from ATH)

(this is a repost from According to Hoyt)


Apparently kicking back at the idiocy of the Social Justice Warriors brings the really special entitled ones crawling out from under whichever rock they were hiding under. That or there’s just something in the air at the moment. Or maybe the water.

The first round of really special entitlement came from According to Hoyt on Saturday’s post, where a truly charming specimen seemed to think that a combination of foul language and chastising Sarah for an incidental comment – without, of course – ever addressing any of the real content of the post. Naturally, said (to use the specimen’s own language) special entitled cunt was promptly informed by a number of the Huns that she had no grounds to be claiming poor reasoning when she’d shown nothing but the standard troll playbook arguing and hadn’t even managed to do that well.

Of course, since this particular kind of special holds as a matter of religious faith that the portion of anatomy in question makes one special beyond questioning and at the same so terribly fragile that a shirt with classic 50s style gals with rayguns is something they have to be protected from, it’s clear the equally special belief that logic is a tool of the patriarchy and so is fact is also a core belief.

The only thing that matters for this sort of special is the feels. If it gives them bad feels it must be evil.

If that wasn’t stupidity enough, Sarah’s Facebook feed acquired some equallyspecial entitled cunts. The use of a male handle – and frankly, male anatomy – doesn’t make a difference given that the alleged arguments are right out of the SJW shake that Hoo-Haa till the glitter covers everything playbook.

For a bit of context, Sarah shared a comment about a Massachusetts town trying to ban all tobacco products within the town borders, with the observation that tar and feathers were appropriate in this situation. This quickly attracted special trolls. Troll #1 seemed to be of the opinion that because he has a severe allergy to all forms of cigarette smoke, smoking should be banned everywhere – but he’s not entitled, oh no. He even tried to argue that he wasn’t claiming his rights to clean air trumped everyone else’s rights to whatever forms of enjoyment they chose to use.

Which was when Troll #2 joined the fray with a scatological analogy that completely failed to work and just left me wondering what crawled into his fundamental orifice and died there. And accused those who snarked his efforts of ad hominem.

Troll #3 started with a fishing question designed to reel people in then prove his point, and quickly descended to the scatological.

Honestly. Apparently the moment you scratch a statist you bring out an obsession with genitalia and/or the end product of the digestive system. I can think of no other reason for the coprophilic turn of Troll #2′s commentary, the speed with which Troll #3 sped to flatulence analogies, and of course the blog’s special one’s choice of ‘cunt’ as the appropriate terminology for ‘a woman with whom I disagree’. Troll #1 at least had the decency to avoid that kind of vulgarity (for those wondering – I try not to initiate it, although, being Australian, I tend not to be all that successful, but if someone else does, I have no qualms about responding in kind).

So. My only sensible theory at this point is that there’s a massive wave of cognitive dissonance running through the special entitled ones. After years of the rest of us being polite and not calling them out on either their stupidity or their assumption that the rest of the world should conform to their idea of how things should be, we’ve had enough and we’re telling them to stop. Worse, we’re telling them where they can put their entitled belief (Slice. Sideways, and without lube).

They, who have been taught that all that matters is the feels and that logic and facts are the tools of the patriarchy – and as a result lack the ability to realize that without those “tools of the patriarchy” most of their world simply goes away. The computers: they run on logic. All the technology we take for granted: built on observation, logic and experiment – have no way to handle being smacked in the face with anything that doesn’t support their worldview.

To some extent I pity them. This has to be hellishly traumatizing for them. But at the same time, their nonsensical beliefs are destroying everything I value, so I can’t be merciful. That’s my choice, and my penance. I just hope I won’t have to go to the blood in the streets level to defeat them.

Monday Morning Gahs

The NaNo project — you know, the book that I hadn’t planned on writing because I already had one I had to do this month — as well as the other book I’ve been working on have gotten little attention over the last few days. Total word count is less than 1000 words. That doesn’t mean I’ve been lazing around, eating bonbons. Far from it. The last two days have been spent doing a line-by-line, front to back and back to front, edit of Duty from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 2) so I meet the deadline of uploading the final version to Amazon by 2300 hrs CST tonight.

I’ve also had to deal with a dishwasher that has decided to stop working. I think it is fixable by me — fingers crossed — and I’ve ordered the parts necessary to do what I believe the problem is. Frankly, I really hope this works. I simply do not have the time, inclination or spare cash to deal with replacing the thing right now.

I do recommend everyone go take a look at Dave Freer’s post at Mad Genius Club. Dave, despite what he thinks/says, is one of the two “nice” ones there. There other is Cedar Sanderson — but we’re working on her 😉

With regard to Dave’s post, he says what all of us at MGC feel. We have better things to do than to set out on stealth — or not so stealthy — attacks on those we don’t agree with. Heck, we’ll say it to your face, shake your hand and go about our way. That may be why some of those who don’t agree with us find us so frustrating. They’ll go to MGC to post something in opposition to what the “Genius” of the day wrote and will then, usually, go away quickly. Why? Maybe it’s because we will actually discuss the issue with them. Maybe it’s because we expect them to hold to the same standards of presenting facts to support their position that we impose on ourselves. Or maybe it is because, unless someone is just an absolute ass who refuses to either tone it down or go away, we don’t usually get down in the gutter and smack talk.

Although, seeing Kate take someone’s argument apart, statement by statement and all with facts and figures and — gasp — logic to back her stance is a sight to behold.

Anyway, go check out Dave’s post and, do me a favor, if you haven’t already, check out the books he links in his post. Dave is not only one of my friends but he is one of my favorite authors.

I’m guest posting over at According to Hoyt this morning. Fair warning. I wrote this after seeing yet another post by a disgruntled lib moaning about the election results and threatening to move to Canada because America hates women and loves guns. I’m tired of reading about and listening to these entitled children — yes, children because that is what they are acting like. They didn’t get their way and now they want to take their toys and go home. Except, in this case, home is a new place in a faraway land. Well, if that’s how they feel, let them go. Let them experience what it is like to live somewhere else for a bit. I want them to be happy (waggles hand) and I want them to have the chance to realize that, despite its faults, the US is still the best place to live.

Here is another link you might find of interest:

Somebody Saw This Day Coming — another take on the Vanity Fair article of a week ago that did its best to eviscerate Amazon.

Now I need to find more coffee, figure out what the demon kitten is doing and then get back to work. I’ll be back tomorrow — unless the editing does me in  😉

An Interview with Christopher Stasheff by Cedar Sanderson

(In an effort to boost the signal for an author whose works I have long enjoyed, I’m echoing Cedar Sanderson’s interview of Christopher Stasheff from According to Hoyt.)

I made my first professional appearance at Millennicon this weekend. In between panels, walking through the halls, I happened to glance at the name tag of the passing man. I did a doubletake, then caught my First Reader, who was serving as my escort, and brought him back to where the gentleman was now standing looking at the table of bookmarks and promotional goodies. It was Christopher Stasheff, who I knew was my First Reader’s favorite fantasy author, and neither of us had any idea he would be at the convention. Neither, as it turns out, had the concom, he had decided to attend with his son on the spur of the moment. We chatted briefly, and after I got home and was talking online about meeting this living legend, I came up with the idea of asking him for an interview.

You see, while we were chatting that first time, he had responded to my question of “are you still writing?” with “yes, but no one is buying.” He went on to tell us that his son has set up a website for him and they are beginning to release both his recent work, in snippets, and past work which has reverted to him. I’d instantly thought of doing a review and promo push on my personal blog, and then Sarah graciously offered to host it on her blog as well.

It seems that despite the man’s fame – my First Reader wasn’t the only fan to light up and rush to meet him, I noticed, and the online reactions were enthusiastic – that editors are turning him down. Why? Well, as we talked to his son Edward Stasheff, he offered his thought that part of it may be that although when Stasheff began his career in the 1960’s, he was considered a feminist writer, he is now considered old school. I know from my personal observations that in the last twenty years for certain, the borders of that movement changed, from seeking equality to supremacy, and Stasheff’s work most likely became not enough ‘me-female-me-first’ for the bossy sorts. I am hoping that we can assure Chris Stasheff – as the concom did, in asking him to please return next year as a guest – that he is still honored for his body of work.

I was tickled, nervous, and delighted to sit with him in a noisy hotel lobby and talk with this lovely man. He made me feel at ease, as though I were a friend he had just met. When I was transcribing the interview, I realized that we share initials, and so I have referred to the alternating QA format with first names, an informality I hope he forgives.

Christopher Stasheff: Well, you know I write fantasy, science fiction, a fusion of both, right?

Cedar Sanderson: Why don’t we start from there? What made you decide to write that?

Chris: I wrote what I wanted to write. I didn’t think I could sell it. But by then, fandom was into the second generation, and they were becoming editors. It goes in cycles, writers, then editors, then back to writers again. Lester Del Rey had been an editor, and would be again, but I got lucky, he was in a fallow spot and was being a critic. He reviewed The Warlock in Spite of Himself.

In the very first sentence of his review, he said it was the worst title ever. My heart sank, I was sure my career was over and it had just begun. But then in the second sentence, he said ‘but somehow Stasheff makes it work.” And then, at the end of the review, he said I’d left it open for a sequel, and that he hoped I would write one. So I did.

Cedar: So what are you working on currently?

Chris: I am using the Voltaire system, and working on three projects. He had a study with seven desks in it, and he would come in in the morning, look around, and decide which suited him today. I do that, only with disks… well, disks are so old-fashioned now! But you know what I mean. I do what I feel like working on.

I have two that are finished, but I haven’t been able to sell them yet, so I am rewriting them. The fourth Starship Troupers book is one of them. The Frog in the Grog is another. It’s about a village wizard, he’s so overworked, and he just can’t get away from all these people with their penny-ante problems. He wants a vacation. So he changes himself into a frog, because who talks to frogs? But just then a fad for frog-legs sweeps the kingdom, and the wizard realizes he’s trapped, because he can’t cast a spell when he can only croak. And of course there is an evil duke usurping the throne, a young boy trying to make good, and a girl who is willing to defy the bad king.

I’m also working on the Asteroid War, it’s a territory fight for the mining asteroids. I based it on the Lincoln County War in New Mexico. I’ve wanted to tell this story for twenty years, and just didn’t have time. Now that I do…

I’m also working on the final volume in the Wizard in Rhyme series, just ideas, right now. I may use three-fourths of the ideas in the final book. Someone is gathering all the bad guys from all the books, and the good guys need a cause to band them together, but they are terribly outnumbered, so they retreat to the Alps. Mantrell, my hero, calls upon his ancestor, King Hardishane, who wakens from his enchanted slumber and rides forth with the paladins… the good guys win, of course, but I haven’t yet decided how.

Cedar: I know we had talked before about how you aren’t selling to publishers, and you told me your son was helping you release books independently. What titles are out there that I can point your readers to?

Chris: Well, there are chapters on my website. I know he has taken two where the rights reverted and made them available through Createspace. A Warlock in Spite of Himself, and A Wizard in Bedlam. He is also writing fan-fiction, you know, but with my permission. He found a hole in the Wizard in Rhyme series, where I brought on stage a young apprentice, but didn’t give him a back story. So Edward is writing about him, in Apprentice Required. He’s also writing a book about capitalist cats. I wish he would hurry up and finish it, so I could read all of it.

You know cats are capitalist, right? Dogs are happy to serve, but cats want to live the good life.

Cedar (laughing): We are the cat’s staff, I think.

Chris: I grew up with dogs, my wife introduced me to cats. They have a very different attitude to life than dogs do.

Cedar: Thank you so much for sitting down with me.

Chris: Thank you for wanting to talk to me, young lady.

If it’s Tuesday. . .

I’m a day late.

I really did intend to get back here yesterday to do a blog post. Unfortunately, life didn’t cooperate. This year, so far, has seen life doing its best to kick me in the teeth. Well, no more. I’ve dug in my heels and stomped my foot — hard to do at the same time, believe me, especially when you’re a klutz like me — and told life to get over itself. I have work to do and I’m going to do it, by gum.

For those who didn’t check out my post at According to Hoyt yesterday, please go over and do so. I discuss the 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Survey, among other things. I’d like to think the designers of the survey had the best of intentions and didn’t start out with the intent of skewing the results to favor traditional publishing. However, it’s hard, especially when almost 2/3rds of the respondents were unpublished authors.

The survey and its results bothered me, not the least of which is because you have to pay $295 (iirc) to get the full text and results of the survey. So, as I tried to prepare for both this blog and my post over at Mad Genius Club, I googled the survey again. This time, there were more results and some of them were very interesting in what they revealed. You can see my take on it all on MGC today.

Here’s my take on it all. Publishing is changing and no one knows where it is going to stop. All I can say is that what we have in a couple of years will not be what we have now. The only way to survive in the industry is to do your research. Read the industry blogs and read author blogs. Look at those who are traditionally published as well as those who self-publish. And write.

But more than that, finish what you’re working on. A partial manuscript will never be sold. If, after you finish it and you decide to try to go the traditional route, submit to agents. While you are waiting to hear back from them, start on your next project. And remember, if you don’t find an agent, that isn’t the end of the world. There are still small publishers who take unagented manuscript submissions. Then there is self-publishing. Weigh your options and decide what is best for you.

But for the love of Pete, don’t let the results of an admittedly unscientific survey sway you into doing something you might not have done otherwise.

You know it’s Monday when. . .

you wake up and realize that you forgot to make a call the day before because you forgot what day it was. Yep, I did that. All weekend long, I’d been a day off — as in thinking Saturday was Friday, etc. I blame the scheduling, or should I say re-scheduling, of several regular appointments during the week. The reschedules were necessary, but man did they throw a wrench into things.

But that’s not the only way you can tell it’s Monday. The second indication I had that the week had started — and that it might be one of those weeks where it would be wise to look for falling asteroids — was news about the Southwest Airlines flight that landed at the wrong airport. If you take what the Southwest representative says, it was an “uneventful” landing. I know the old adage that any landing you can walk away from is a good one, but I at least expect to land at the airport I’ve paid to go to.

In this case, for whatever reason, the pilot landed at Taney County Airport, approximately seven miles from the Branson Airport. That would be bad enough but the fact that the runway the jet landed on is approximately half the length of the one at Branson is of even more concern. The passengers onboard described how the jet just seemed to “drop to the ground” and talked about having to grab the seat in front of them. Brakes were hit and thrusters thrown into reverse. Tires smoked. Oh, and the flight had been so low on approach that people on the ground could see inside the jet.

And still nothing from Southwest except the comment that it was an “uneventful” landing and everyone was all right. All I know for sure is that the passengers were bused to the proper airport, another plane was brought in to fly them to Dallas. How many missed connecting flights and were stuck in the airport or had to find hotels, I haven’t heard.

And folks wonder why I don’t like flying these days.

Then there’s this story about the hacker who leaked the video proving that the victim in the Steubenfille rape case was, in fact, unconscious at the time of the assault. This is the case where the suspects weren’t charged until after the hacker found the evidence — text messages and a video one of them had made of the assault — and leaked it to the media. I’m not a big fan of Wikipedia as an authoritative site, but you can find the basic details of the crime here.

The hacker, Deric Lostutter, now faces federal charges for his actions. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to ten years in prison. This sentence is more than any of the rapists received. In fact, one of them is already out on good behavior — and without ever apologizing to his victim for what he did. If that isn’t enough to make you scratch your head, note that the second defendant was sentenced to an extra year for distributing digital images of the victim in the case and will probably be released next year — for a rape that occurred in 2012.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not condoning what Lostutter did. He broke the law. But the differences in sentencing does shine the light on several problems in our system. First, the fact that the defendants in the Steubenville case were sentenced as juveniles instead of as adults is beyond me. They were old enough to know that what they were doing was wrong. They knew the girl was unconscious and unable to consent at the time they raped her. At least one of them then made a conscious decision to email and/or post online images of her taken, iirc, at the time of the assault. So, because they were found guilty of “delinquent misconduct” instead of rape, they soon get to return to their lives without ever giving a thought to how they have impacted the lives of their victim, her family and friends.

But for Lostutter who is not a minor, the Feds are going all out after him. Yes, he broke the law. Yes, he threatened to “go after” the rapists and those who helped cover up the crime. Yes, he released the video and texts after he found them. So, yes, he needs to pay the price for breaking the law.

My question, however, is this: is what he did that much worse than what these young men did?

The answer, at least to me, is hell no!

So, unless there is more to the case against him than I know — and it is quite possible there — then I think the possibility of ten years in prison for making sure the victim in this case received at least a little justice is excessive.

Both of these stories leave me shaking my head and wondering what other sort of insanity we’re going to see this week. Yes, I am keeping an eye out for asteroids because, sure as my name is Amanda, if one decides to strike the Earth, it will do so exactly where I’m standing. Especially if the week continues as it has started.

In other news, I’m introducing myself over at According to Hoyt this morning. I’m joining Sarah’s “Raiding Party” and will be blogging there once a month. Now I’m off to find more coffee and to finish re-editing something that my computer ate the edits on. Then it’s on to  the next novel which is, finally, starting to come to life in my head.

Speak up. Don’t hide your voice.

(Before I get started, let me begin with an apology. I was laid low by a bug that just wouldn’t go away. This was one of those insidious bugs that not only makes you feel like crap — and that’s being nice — but that also saps away all your energy and the ability to think. I’m better now and ready to get back into the swing of things.)

Now, on to the blog. . . .

Yesterday I was reading Sarah A. Hoyt’s wonderful blog. It’s one of those I read every day, not only because Sarah is a dear friend but because she always has something interesting to say. Yesterday’s post was no different. You see, Sarah is one of those authors who, after years of buying into the tales of fear about what would happen if your agent or publisher found out you weren’t as liberal as they were, finally said “Screw it!” and came out of the political closet.

Perhaps that is why one of the comments to her post yesterday struck me. The comment was by another author. He basically said that he hadn’t come out of the political closet because his one voice wouldn’t do any good. In other words, he wasn’t going to say anything publicly about his political beliefs, or about what he thinks is going on in this country, because his singular voice wouldn’t be heard.

That’s totally different from those authors who stay quiet because they happen to be afraid their publishers or agents might drop them because they aren’t of the “correct” political stripe. I can even understand why authors in that situation might remain quiet. Traditional publishing is getting harder and harder to break into. Once you do, the natural reaction is not to do anything that might rock the boat. That said, there are a number of authors who do speak out, they just don’t do it under their own names. They create blogs and use other forms of social media under pen names that can’t be traced back to their publishing names.

But the “my voice won’t be heard” excuse is something I have a hard time accepting. Part of it is my writer’s ego. If I thought that way about my writing, I’d never publish anything. (Okay, Sarah, quit laughing. I know you had to drag me into publishing kicking and screaming but it wasn’t because I was afraid I’d never be read.) One of the reasons we write — or at least why I write — is because I have a story to tell and I think people will read it.

But there’s another reason I shake my head when I read or hear excuses like the one this author put out. Saying you don’t talk about your political beliefs, or anything else for that matter, because it won’t change anyone’s mind is a cop-out. Either you don’t believe in what you profess you do, or you are afraid of letting people know what you believe. I’m not talking about fear of losing your job. No, I’m talking about fear of ridicule or loss of social standing.

There has to come a time when we realize that every lone voice does have a chance of being heard. You might not change the mind of the person you are talking to, but what about that person who happens to overhear your conversation? What about your child who can see you standing up for what you think is important? You might not change anyone’s mind. But if you start them thinking, asking questions, isn’t that important as well?

Every voice does count. Saying your voice won’t be heard is like saying you don’t vote because it won’t count. Guess what, it won’t if you don’t exercise your right to vote. Maybe it’s having grown up in a household where my parents usually cancelled out their votes and where we didn’t talk “politics”, but I learned the importance of not only considering both sides of the political coin but also to discuss my beliefs.

We didn’t talk politics only in the manner of not discussing specific candidates DURING A POLITICAL RACE. What we did is talk about what was important to us and why. During the Vietnam War, we talked about why we were there, the implications of what would happen if we pulled out or if we stayed in, as well as the way the vets were being treated when they returned home. We discussed the Flower Power movement and the Civil Rights Movement. My very Democrat father had some very, very strong opinions on social programs, opinions born our of the Depression and the FDR administrations. It would have surprised his family to know he was against almost all forms of social welfare. He approved of programs that helped people get back on their feet and helped them find jobs. But then, as far as he was concerned, the government handouts should end. I’d never have known, or suspected, he felt that way if we hadn’t discussed it. That discussion, and others like it, helped me form my own political beliefs.

Did my father convince me of everything he believed in? Hell no. In the same vein, my very conservative mother didn’t convince me of everything she believed in. But the discussions of political ideas and ideals helped me form my own beliefs. I’ve followed their example with my own son, doing my best to discuss what I believe and why without condemning him if he doesn’t happen to believe in the same things I do. The result is a young man who is a strong libertarian who not only understands that this country is only as healthy as our private business sector but who also understands that there are some social programs that we must have, as long as limits are set on them.

It worries me when I hear anyone say their voice doesn’t count or won’t convince anyone to change their mind. Perhaps thinking about it in terms of changing someone’s mind is the wrong way to look at it. Perhaps we ought to look at it in the terms my parents did: is what I have to say something that can get someone else to at least think about it? In my mind, that is the first step, especially in politics. Too many folks in this country vote the way their parents did or the way their union says they should. How many vote straight party, not because they know and agree with what the candidates on that slate say but because they are Democrat or Republican?

Our job, at least in my mind, is to formulate well-reasoned “discussions” about what we believe and why. It’s all right to be impassioned in our discussions. But it is the ability to say what we believe, why and to give our audience a reason to think about it that is important. We might not convince the diehard adherents to the opposing political party, but those well-reasoned discussions will cause those who aren’t diehard party followers to think about what we have to say and it might just cause them to start questioning why they were thinking about voting for the other side. Heck, it might actually convince them to vote as we are voting.

But that will never happen if each of us doesn’t accept the challenge to come out of the political closet and start talking about the issues. Will it be easy? Hell no. It will mean that we have to educate ourselves, not only on the side we support but on the other side as well. We will need to know history and economics. I don’t know about you, but I think this country is worth it. More than that, I want this country to be free and great for my son and his children, should he have any.

I’m accepting the challenge. How about you?


Food for Thought

I have a raging headache this morning and am waiting for the A/C repairman to get here. The headache isn’t because of the A/C. No, it is because of the beating of my head against the wall the last few days as I’ve read — and all too often responded — to posts at According to Hoyt. No, I don’t disagree with what Sarah has written. Far from it. It has been the whacking of trolls and the trying to understand why others continue to spout the party line without actually trying to understand what the rest of us are saying or why. The culmination came this morning when someone actually said that, as fiction writers, we need to let the rest of the world know what we do because they don’t understand. This is an outcropping of a dust up over whether or not fiction writers do any research. Yes, that sound you hear is my head exploding.

Any way, go over the According to Hoyt and check out the following posts:

Looking at the Other Half

Days of Whine and Fire


Robots and Echoing Kate

I’ll be back tomorrow with a regular post.

Monday morning musings

The caffeine is slowly, oh-so-slowly starting to wind its way through my veins and life is gradually returning to my body. The morning paper has been read and email has been looked at. Thus starts the morning blog crawl before getting to work.

The first thing to catch my eye is notice that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will be filing bankruptcy. For those familiar with HMH, this shouldn’t come as any surprise. They have been deep in debt. What does surprise me some is that the debt restructuring will not mean any layoffs. HMH also announced at all vendors will be paid. Here’s hoping they can do as they say but I’m not holding my breath.

Be sure to check out the comments to the post as well. They will give you a good idea about the split in thought about the future not only of HMH, but of legacy publishing in general.

Next up is the news, a bit belated, that Simon & Schuster is resurrecting Pocket Star. The former mmpb imprint will be e-book only.  It will, according to S&S, publish both established and new authors. The Pocket Star website promises “exclusive eBooks from best selling and debut authors”. What they don’t say — at least what I didn’t find — was any statement saying they were going to do away with the dreaded DRM.

Again, take a look at the comments following the PW link. Folks are more and more vocal about how it is past time for legacy publishers to break away from the traditional business plan, especially regarding royalties.

Nathan Bransford has an interesting post about the challenges facing publishing these days. He does make one comment that, to me, shows one of the issues with legacy publishing right now. When he talks about agents, he comments, “And even in an era where agents aren’t the gatekeepers to the literary world, they’ll still have a role.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but the idea of an agent being the gatekeeper has always troubled me. It shows just how the role of publishers and editors has changed over the last decade or so. When you used to talk about gatekeepers, you talked about editors. Sure, some still talk that way, but let’s be honest here, folks. It’s harder to get an agent for most writers than it is to find a publisher. I know authors who have published a number of books, all of which have sold well, who still can’t get an agent. Why? Because these new gatekeepers don’t like the genre these authors write in or don’t like their politics. Of course, the same publishers who have ceded their gatekeeping responsibilities to agents have also given up most editorial duties to them as well.

Sarah A. Hoyt has a great post this morning on how one author is completely in the wind when it comes to understanding the difference between writers who self-publish or go with small presses to release their e-books and those “real” authors who spend years just researching their books. Don’t get me wrong, I feel for non-fiction writers who are worried about how the increasing popularity of e-books will impact their careers. But, instead of wringing their hands and crying about how it just isn’t fair, they should be exploring just what the new tech will allow them to do.

Finally, for the really good news. Kris Rush is back online after dealing with the attacks on her websites. Check it out, catch up on what you missed.

Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone – by Sarah A. Hoyt

(Thanks to Sarah for letting me repost her blog today. I hope you enjoy.)

I often talk about how I was influenced by Heinlein.  What I don’t mention is that the only books of his that could even vaguely be considered juveniles which I could find translated into Portuguese in the early seventies (which doesn’t mean that the others weren’t translated, only that I could no longer find them.  Portuguese book business has always worked on no-back-list, so barring finding the book used you were simply out of luck) were The Door Into Summer and Have Spacesuit Will Travel.  (This last one, of course, hit straight home because in many ways my family resembled Kip’s.  In many ways, too, I WAS Peewee.)

I read the juveniles after I got married.  My husband had about half of them, and I tracked the others down, used, one at a time, till my mid thirties.  (The days before Amazon were dark, oh, children of mine.)

But the thing is that before Heinlein I had another very strong influence on my formation and character.  Those of you who are from Europe, nod as you go along – Enid Blyton.

Yes, I know what is said of Ms. Blyton.  I don’t know if they call her sexist, but I’ve heard her accused of being racist and/or hating gypsies.  (Did she?  Well, I didn’t see it that way.  In Circus of adventure the gypsy girl is a central and sympathetic character.  BUT even if she had a condescending attitude to gypsies, it’s not race prejudice as such.  Part of it has a reason, at least if you go back far enough in Britain.  When sheep-culture [I can’t remember the Latin term.  Oviculture?] began in England, the enclosing and merging of lands led to a lot of marginal tenant families being dispossessed of the land they had farmed for generations.  Any number of them became “counterfeit gypsies.”  It was a way of avoiding the work house.  They dressed colorfully, moved from place to place, engaged in minor acts of pilfering.  “Gipsy” became the British word for “Homeless” or “Transient.”  The encampment of gypsies in Jane Austen’s Emma was almost certainly of this nature.  In that sense, it had nothing to do with race, and it was more akin to a young woman being afraid to cross a homeless camp – for that matter, probably not entirely unfounded.  Just because someone is discriminated against, it doesn’t make them angels.  My guess is that is the background of Blyton’s recoil from gypsies, if any.)

She’s also been accused of class prejudice.  Look, I wouldn’t know.  I did not grow up in a classless society, so at the ages I read her – four to ten or so – I would have been blind to it, at any rate.  It was just part of instruction on “How to behave properly.”

And right there, I must point out these things might be far more evident in the early childhood books.  I’ve heard of Noddy.  A friend of mine had one book.  But I never actually read any of those books.  The ones that helped form me were Famous Five and the Adventure books.  (I discovered the boarding school ones much later and read them, but by that time I was beyond “forming” at that level.)

What do I mean formed me?

Well, Enid Blyton who might or might not have hated Heinlein on sight, shared with him one important characteristic.  It is something that goes well beyond being a good writer, something almost of an alchemic nature, which is difficult to pin down.

They create in you a sense of morals – their morals – and a desire to follow them so that the author’s characters [or more often, bluntly, the author] would approve of you.

Admired, loved, important writers completely lack this.  (I could be wrong on this, being, again, well past the age of being formed, but from what I saw of how these influenced my younger son, J. K. Rowling completely lacks this, but Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series has it in spades.)

From Ms. Blyton I got un-Portuguese and frankly un-feminine senses of fair play and nobless oblige.  (Now, not totally un-Portuguese because the Northern region I come from was heavily influenced by England.  However, certain things that Blyton managed to instill with me, such as not taking advantage of personal connections and trying to get ahead purely on merit, or keeping a stiff upper lip and not displaying emotions, are outright counterproductive in Portuguese society.)

I’m not going to speculate on what creates that effect.  That’s a subject for another column.  I suspect it’s some combination of a strong personality, a strong voice, attractive stories AND the courage to give your opinion loud and clear.  (Agatha Christie seems to have this effect on some people, but not most, possibly due to her rather more quiet personality.)

I can tell you Enid Blyton had that effect, though, because hers were the first books I evangelized, and I saw her attitudes push into everyone to whom I gave the books.

Yes, I know what I said above about the attitudes being counterproductive in Portugal – but all the same they gave me a way to arrange my inner universe.  And they dovetailed rather well with the attitudes I picked up from Heinlein, btw.  So, of course, when I had children, I wanted to influence them to be more like me, so I could understand them (And verse the vice of course ;) )

Heinlein books were easy to come by, and by then I had hold of the juveniles.  Enid Blyton, on the other hand…  The year before we had Robert, with the vague idea that a miracle might happen and we might eventually reproduce (well, we’d been trying for five years, in our twenties) I stopped by a bookstore in England to look for the books.  And recoiled.

There were books with those titles, right enough.  But they were not the books I’d read.  There were televisions, and computer games.  But what was more, the kids did not sound RIGHT.  It was a short excursion and I didn’t have the time to really read them, but I walked away shaking my head.  The books had been re-written, which I thought I understood.  But I had no intention of exposing my kids to this.  I didn’t know if whatever they’d done left the alchemy intact.

Fortuitously, years later, when Robert turned three, a friend of mine – hi Charles! – worked at a used bookstore.  When someone came in wishing to trade a large box of Enid Blyton, the books didn’t even go on the shelf.  I got a phone call, and rushed down.

These were the real deal, the books from my childhood.  I passed them on to the child, and again, the alchemy worked.

Now, you’re saying “But Sarah, they had to modernize the books.  How could kids read them otherwise?  Children are not sophisticated.  They have to read about kids like them, in environments like theirs.”

Really?  REALLY?  You’re REALLY REALLY REALLY going to tell me that?  And you expect me to believe it?  (Presses fingers on either side of the bridge of her nose, closes eyes and shakes her head.)  What kind of children do you people have?  More importantly, what kind of namby pamby expectations do you have of your children?

Throughout history children were raised on stories of lands long before their own and far more alien to them than England between the wars would be for children today.  Even fairytales should be incomprehensible to American children a hundred years ago.  Were they?  No.  Children will accept the parameters of a story, and then build from that.  Doing that is no different than learning the rules of Harry Potter and enjoying the books.  I mean, kids, you do know that your children aren’t learning broom flight and magic, right?

Is the setting of Enid Blyton’s adventure tales odd to modern children?  I should hope so.  It was outright alien to me.  No one in Portugal (different culture, remember?) would dream of letting their kids go and camp anywhere before their eighteenth or twentieth birthday.  And even then, they would not let girls do so.  There were also all sorts of idiosyncracies.  They had no TV for instance. …  But kids are adaptable.  I knew I was reading about a different land, a different time, and I went along with it, captured by the characters and accepting the premisses of the world.

People who insist that Blyton or Heinlein or for that matter Agatha Christie must be modernized for “the younger generation” have been sold a bill of goods.  Young people who won’t read Heinlein because “I grew up with computers, and his characters don’t have them, so they’re irrelevant” of course also can’t handle mythological tales, or stories of the middle ages.  Or perhaps they’ve just been sold a bill of goods by the adults in their lives.  Or perhaps… and this is the scary part, they’re so convinced of the rightness of the consensus reality these days, so absolutely sure that our prejudices, our beliefs, our thoughts about things are the right ones, that they don’t want to think society might have been organized differently once upon a time.

This is different – if you ask – from the type of strong moral (or immoral) code that can influence other people.  For one, it’s more fragile.  I can’t imagine anyone like Heinlein or Blyton refusing to read about other lands/people because “they aren’t like me.”  They would probably judge the inhabitants of those worlds, fictional or not, according to their own lights (multiculturalism being a weak poison at the time) but they wouldn’t put their hands over their ears and refuse to hear about it.  In fact, this attitude of “modernizing” books betrays a LACK of cultural confidence, and a lack of belief that this is what we should pass on to our children.  It’s as though we’re (and here I’m talking society as a whole.  Just like I am at home in the lowest greasy spoon and the highest gourmet restaurant, I can encompass literature from all eras, and my kids can as well) afraid our kids will find out things were organized differently once upon a time, will investigate why and will come to believe (oh, horrors!) those old norms.

In fact, the “updating” of books is another way of enforcing that consensus reality that the gatekeepers have been working so hard at.  It’s a way of making sure that you hear nothing that makes you question “how things are done.”

It is in a way the same impulse that led to the endless revisions of history in 1984.  “We have always been at war with Eurasia” means you shouldn’t consider that perhaps there is a specific reason for that war, and that maybe that war is wrong.  “We have always had computers” and “it’s always been wrong to look down on gypsies” and “Women and men have always been equal” means you don’t think too hard about the way we live, and don’t consider HOW you could live.

You see what I mean about how that betrays a lack of cultural confidence?  How what it shows is that people are afraid their kids will meet unexpurgated books that push thoughts that are no part of our “politically correct” reality?  (Did you know that term comes from Maoism?  It was supposed to denote something that was obviously wrong, but was “politically correct” – i.e. true to the ideology of Maoism.)

“Oh, come, Sarah,” you said.  “Aren’t you getting al bent out of shape because some idiots gave The Famous Five computers?  I mean, it’s not like they’re defacing Caesar’s Campaigns in Gaul!  Perhaps kids like reading about other kids with computer games.”

Ah.  But see, when you go in to “modernize” something it’s very easy to change the other stuff too – on purpose or not.  Look, I’ve tried to revise a mystery that I wrote in the early eighties, and had it fall apart in my hand.  It was impossible for that book to happen in a world in which you could google things.  Modernizing something from the early twentieth century?  You’re going to have to change essential parts.  You’re just going to have to. And, of course, while you’re modernizing, you’re going to “correct” the attitudes of the characters.


Okay, let me tell you a story.  My older son, during one of our walks, brought up a book I couldn’t remember.  He said something about a tree and “it was one of the books I read when I was little.”  Well, he read EVERYTHING when he was little – kind of like a pulping machine will swallow everything – so I forgot about it.

Only he didn’t.  Turns out that box of books had a few Enid Blytons I’d never read.  Robert, in attempting to prove to me he’d not gone nuts and that there was a story out there that sounded like what he’d told me, went looking through the internet.

He found it.  It’s The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.  And then he found the paragraph on Wikipedia, talking about the “modernized” versions.

In modern reprints, the names of some of the characters have been changed. Jo has been changed to Joe, the more common spelling for males, and Bessie is now Beth, the former name having fallen out of usage as a nickname for Elizabeth. Fanny and Dick, whose names now carry unfortunate connotations, have been renamed Frannie and Rick. The character of Dame Slap has become Dame Snap, and no longer practises corporal punishment but instead reprimands her students by shouting at them.

I’ve never seen my son so shocked.  Not the names, though changing the names is a goodly piece of nonsense.  Again, children are not completely stupid, and it doesn’t hurt them to know that the slang terms weren’t always the same as they are now.  On the contrary it gives them an idea of change and of time altering things.  (Which of course will make them question the justness of our own versions of things.)  But note that the character who practiced corporal punishment has been changed too, because G-d forbid our precious little sprouts would guess that once upon a time, and still throughout most of the world, corporal punishment is the norm in child rearing, and that generation upon generation have been raised that way without turning out any more dysfunctional than our own children?

If the precious moralists and revisionists HAD to do that and felt their own inherent superiority enough to do that – what else did they DO?  What else is changed in those books?

I bet you EVERYTHING.  Every attitude, every way of looking at the world.  EVERYTHING that made those books powerful moral influences.  If anything of that feeling remains, it is now in the service of the currently fashionable ideas – ideas like the ridiculous animism/new-primitive worship of the Earth (quite distinct from trying to keep a functional ecology), ideas like “we can’t hurt anyone’s feelings, even if they’re bad” ideas like “political correctness.”

My son said “WHY do that?  Why keep the book, the shell of the book and change everything?  That’s horrifying.  Wouldn’t it be more honest to burn them and ban them?  How dare they take the words of someone who is dead and can’t defend him/herself and make them into something OTHER?”

I agree with him.  If you’re that diffident about your current ideas and attitudes that you don’t want children exposed to older ones, be honest about your insecurity and bigotry.  Burn the books.  Ban them.  Yes, it will make you feel like a thug, a bully and a coward, but that just means you’re seeing yourself clearly.  If that’s what you want to be, BE that.

But don’t hollow out a person’s ideas and thoughts and attitudes, fill them with your own consensus reality, and then sell it under that person’s name.

That’s repulsive.  Grave robbers have better morals.

(You can find more from Sarah at According to Hoyt and Mad Genius Club.)

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