My drug of choice is writing--writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Friday, August 7, 2020

Libraries vs. "Pay Authors" (....Wait. WHAT???)


Recently I posted a tweet encouraging people to use a library's audiobook program instead of Audible. 

Right. With me so far? Great.

I got all the "Usual Suspect" responses––the good advice like checking WHICH audiobook program your local library uses (they don't all use Overdrive), the typical "great taste/less filling" arguments about owning vs. borrowing, and the all-too-predictable breathtakingly privileged comments that inadvertently intimate that only people with financial means should be able to have access to books, usually by complaining that a six-week wait for a popular title means that libraries are less than useless (rather than just criminally underfunded). And I'm a guy who likes me some instant gratification, don't get me wrong.

Keeping up? Wonderful.

There was nothing surprising in about any of these reactions. I've been at this WAY too long not to have seen this all before. One was the sort of good "drill down" nuance you get when you post almost any kind of tweet. Because even at its vastly improved 280 characters, Twitter is where nuance goes to die. The other two were basically what you get when you post anything encouraging people to use libraries. Some folks with disposable incomes don't realize that not everyone is in the same boat and thus cannot actually make the choice to buy books as fast as they read. Those kind of comments are the cost of doing business if you want to talk about libraries.

No real surprises yet.

That's when the wheels came off the bus. I also saw a new "genre" of comments––folks having a reaction I completely DIDN'T expect.

"Or we could just pay the authors." "Actually, I like to support the authors." "It's better for the authors if you buy it."

Yeah, we should totally pay the......um–––

Wait. What?

This isn't just a weird take, or a predictably pro-corporation capitalist take. It's not your usual "If poor Jeff Bezos can't be a trillionaire while people die in the street, how will anyone ever be motivated to keep the engines of our industry turning faster than the commies'?" It is actually SO far off the rails, I can only assume it is based on some kind of bad information at some step in the process. So I'm here to give all of you the straight dope. Yes, we could pay the author, BUT......

Look at me. Look at me! Are you looking? 
I love that you want to support authors, but I absolutely positively promise you that libraries are completely fucking AWESOME for authors. Pinkie swear! 

Either these people dropping these comments don't know how libraries work or they don't know what a company like Amazon does to make money off of the efforts of writers. Fortunately, punching holes in this kind of shit is just exactly my wheelhouse as long as folks let me put on my snarkiest cestus before my pugilism of ignorance bashing begins. 

Also my sweatshop-caliber-overworked metaphors.

Paying the author is great, but libraries DO buy books from publishers, which gets authors paid.

Libraries buy books. In fact, libraries do not buy books at the same bulk discounts that book sellers do. They don't QUITE pay retail, but it's pretty close, and they certainly don't buy at the 40%-70% discount that retail outlets and book clubs get. They buy at least one copy of a book, pretty much if a person wants them to have that book. And any book that is going to have multiple people wanting to check it out every month is going to have a copy in pretty much every library in the English-language world. More than one copy for popular books. And every time a library wears out a copy of their book (unless the book is waning in popularity and they can pare down to fewer copies), they replace it by BUYING another copy. 

That's potentially hundreds of thousands of books these libraries buy. There are roughly 150,000 public libraries in the English-language world (not including the sparser, but existent English libraries [or sections] outside the Anglosphere). 

You know what a GOOD run is for a fiction book? 25k. 50k is really good. 75k is spectacular. If a writer has a good enough book, JUST THE LIBRARIES of the world will double a "spectacular" run as they all race to get ONE copy of this in-demand book. (And if you're that popular, they're going to try to buy more than one.) Plus all those readers who take a chance on something they can borrow instead of buy (but then MUST own their own copy) will buy the book as well. 

Of course, most people who aren't Stephen King, she who shall not be named, or God never in their lives write a book that EVERY SINGLE library on Earth wants to get its hands on, and non-traditional publishers have the same marketing and distribution issues with libraries that they would with retailers, but libraries buy new books every day based on requests from those they service. So once an author has people who want to read their book asking libraries to carry it, they make money. 

And libraries pay licencing fees for each use of electronic media. Things like the audio file? The author makes some money. Same goes for e-books. The authors get a tiny royalty for every electronic checkout. And as e-books do not wear out, their prices are often higher for libraries to offset a longer shelf life.

Further, though an author may need a book deal with an international legal section, in many non-US libraries, there is something called a Public Lending Right, and that means you DO make money (pennies, but still) every time your book is checked out. 

Libraries are not pirating books. 

The arguments surrounding the "or we could pay the author" folks bear a striking resemblance to the arguments AGAINST pirating.

I have to be honest here. I'm elated, thrilled....OVER THE MOON that a new generation of up-and-coming writers knows to be very wary when they hear the word "exposure" used non-ironically in their presence; however, they also should know that exposure IS actually a thing. It exists, and it is good for authors.

Here's the trick. 

I'm going to tell you the difference between a pirate/thief downloading your book with a shrug of "I'm giving them good exposure!" (or a professional for-profit organization trying to get work for free out of a writer) and a library saying the same thing.


Here comes.

The difference is if someone is offering to pay you with ONLY exposure. 

The pirate/thief downloading torrents (instead of waiting a week for a request to come in at their local library) who has convinced themselves they're screwing the big, bad publishing company and not the author (it's both), and that they're providing the author with exposure (they almost never are), isn't paying for even a SINGLE copy of that book that they have. The library IS doing that. And unlike the pirate/thief, the library is also actually putting their copy of that book on display and giving it out to pretty much anyone who wants it (rather than just erasing it from their hard drive when finished). 

Now you're talking to a guy who will never publish traditionally because the big bad publishing companies really ARE big and bad, and who puts all his stuff online for free and passes the hat because he knows a lost cause when he sees one. But don't let the pirates/thieves convince you that they're really doing you a great big favor. They just don't want to feel as bad about picking an author's pocket. They've got this idea that they're going to go talk up enough people about that book that it'll get the author more money than if they'd never read it, but what usually happens is that they tell a few of their friends how THEY can pirate it. Their "exposure" myth is just what they tell the mirror as they brush their teeth for the evening so they can sleep at night. 

However, that's not what libraries do. They buy actual copies. Then they lend them out. Then they replace them as needed, which includes buying more copies if the book is popular. Then they notify other libraries of what's getting checked out, and THOSE libraries start buying copies. And the whole while, anyone who is legitimately checking out those books might develop an interest in having a copy for their very own or exploring the author's backlist. 

Now THAT'S exposure. 

Paying authors is AWESOME, but comparing libraries with some rando just lending books willy nilly is a BAD analogy.

So you compare libraries to your friend who lends you a book but just assume they do it an extra thousand or so times, and totally screw the author.

Okay, right now, this analogy sucks. Let's look at it like this. 

Your friend lends out a book. If your friend notices that a lot of people are borrowing this book, they are likely to buy multiple copies of the book so they can lend them out to MORE people. Ten or fifteen copies wouldn't be unheard of for a very popular book. Your friend also replaces any books that become too tattered, whether they've lent it out fifteen times or once. Your friend also belong to a network of other book-lending friends who will also buy multiple copies. 

NOW your analogy doesn't suck. 

This is why we NEED libraries. Your friend would have to be outrageously wealthy and generous to pull this off in a non-sucky-analogy way. The collective resources of a community are the only way to create something like a library.

Ask working authors what they think of libraries. NONE of them dislike libraries.

I am pretty sure you would be hard pressed to find even a fraction of one percent of working authors who have something negative to say about the way libraries affect their bottom line. Authors LOVE libraries. Even the most hard-line, mercenary, business-nosed author knows that they probably sell more copies of their book because of libraries than they ever would without them.

In a world where everyone had massive disposable income, an author (who I guess doesn't have the same massive disposable income as everyone else for some reason because that's what's required in this scenario) might prefer if every single person to ever take a chance on one of their books did so by purchasing their own copy, but given the world we live in where there are people who can't buy books or only a couple at a time as a treat, public libraries exist precisely because books should not belong only to those people of sufficient enough means to have their own personal libraries. Public libraries exist to democratize literature and information as something that all humanity (not just the wealthy) deserve. And they are part and parcel with the reason the modern day writer can be "the modern day writer" instead of having a wealthy patron among the courtiers. 

The ones treating authors poorly are EXACTLY who you would expect to.

If authors aren't making enough in late stage capitalism, I hate to say it, but it's not the LIBRARIES that are to blame*. (And it's certainly not all the plebs who used the library rather than buying every book they read brand new.) If you want to see who is mistreating authors, look at Amazon (and don't forget the publishers). Price fixing, denying authors their "commission" unless the Audible subscription came from a certain URL, slashing royalty rates, denying more and more money to the author whether you go big five or independent because the entire industry landscape is dotted by various distribution monopolies. They're Kaiju trying to smash each other's market share and authors get trampled underneath. 

*Confession time: I didn't hate to say this at all, really.

But it sure as hell isn't by LIBRARIES hurting authors. If you want to see a library contribute some scrill to an author, it's as easy as walking up to the desk and asking them if they will order that author's book. I think they also make you fill out a tiny little card. 

Libraries are not stopping you from buying books. 

We never voted as a society to have bookstores OR libraries, and the effort to edge out libraries is coming from bookstores, not the other way around. It's true that libraries are a sweet little drop of socialism in our late-stage crapitalist coffee, but if you are brimming over with concern for the plight of the poor working writers, I can't tell you enough how much trying to get universal basic income or a federal "artist stipend" (or just giving us money) will help more than attacking libraries. As if paying authors OR enjoying libraries is what's really on the table when corporations like Amazon are doing everything in their considerable-PR-spin power to destroy any competition they might have, including calling for the end of libraries. (That link is to those pinko liberals over at Fortune magazine who think it's a bad idea.) And honestly....fuck them for trying because this entire post is JUST about authors making money; it doesn't even touch on everything else public libraries do for the social good.

Libraries are good. 

Libraries help authors.

Libraries BUY authors' books.

Libraries are not the enemy.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Gems From Facebook (Bottom of July)

Remember, as long as Covid-19 has bequeathed me the attention span of a gnat (with ADD), and I'm doing more of my writing in smaller chunks on my personal Facebook account, I'm going to be posting some of my best posts (and funniest memes) every couple of weeks. It's partially to have an extra "jazz hands" article to toss up every couple of weeks, so it doesn't look like I'm over here writing one or two posts a month, but mostly it's to remind everyone that my writing happens in different places during times of turmoil––and that's all we've gotten in the last half a year.  

"To what end?" is usually an important question.

All the things that the right wing claims are fake news usually have simple and clear motivations. ("Well, Chad, by cutting the Center for Disease control out of the data loop, the White House can craft any narrative it wants, including the one they've been trying to convince us of since the beginning that this is no biggie"––a message that the CDC's data continually failed to corroborate.)

All the things the right wing claims are vast conspiracies against them usually can't speak to the question of "to what end" with anything more than a deeper layer of political sabotage. ("It's because wearing a mask....uh....goes against my constitutional right to NOT wear a mask [even though it falls under the "public good"]....and if everyone is wearing masks then....um....the facial recognition software doesn't work and.....um.....that's how they GET you. And 'they'll' just do anything to make Trump look bad.")

Of course, simply having factual sources is probably a better crucible to burn away bullshit, but I find it very important to investigate who is capable of answering "To what end?"

For any of you who still literally can even, here is a kitten and a baby otter.

Compilationception!  This thread is a compilation of Covid-19 memes. And it's here in this compilation post.

Corporations: Labor is just...GREEDY. Of course we want all these wonderful things they've gone on strike for––they're just basic moral positions at this point––and we would NEVER take them away, but we need to bust these unions for the moral good. Besides....wouldn't you like those union dues in your take-home pay?

Moderates: We were assured by corporations that they are just against union power, and that they would never take away our hard-fought protections. They will look out for us and self-regulate because if they don't, we will go across the street to somewhere that will, and that is how the invisible hand is basically high-fiving labor. According to a lot of corporate propaganda I've been consuming lately, labor unions have "gone too far."

Corporations: They HAVE gone too far, haven't they? Glad those multi-million dollar PR spins have paid off. Thanks so much for the solid. Listen, we're going to roll a few of these protections back anywhere you've helped us bust those unions. But rest assured that we would never take them all.

Moderates: No problem, Boss. Labor has "gone too far." We can't make it too hard to be capitalists, amirite?

Corporations: You sure are! Just a few more off the top here. People should have the RIGHT to work over 40 hours without overtime if they want.

Moderates: Uh....yeah, okay. I guess that makes sense.

Corporations: These safety regulations are holding back our profi––er, I mean our ability to CREATE JOBS. You all like jobs, don't you?

Moderates: Um.....I guess.

Corporations: Well....looks like a global pandemic. Unfortunately you have no power. So get back to work and risk serious illness and death with no recourse.

Moderates: Wait, can't we strike? Can't we refuse? Can't we demand some sort of hybrid or safety regulations or SOMETHING???? Help us, labor. Help us.

Corporations: Well, we busted your unions, so your options are to work and get Covid and maybe die, or not work and definitely die. Enjoy your choice.


I absolutely, ABSOLUTELY don't want to discourage anyone from being outraged at the abductions in Portland, but also please keep in mind that there have been confirmed and verified "black sites" (notably Chicago, but that's hardly the only one) where members of Black communities were seized over the community's strongest screaming and shouting objections for years without quite the same national outrage, and we've held "enemy combatants" (avoiding the moniker of POWs) at a base outside the country so we could ignore the 14th amendment for decades, and we are putting kids in cages as a deterrent to them legally seeking asylum. So you might want to consider the message you're sending if you act like this is the first you've heard of law enforcement simply ignoring due process. (And/or consider the differences that have led to greater coverage if it literally IS the first you've heard of it.)

ETA: I'm seeing a real struggle in comments to define this as substantively different. I might encourage folks to think about that defensive reaction, given the actual words of my post. All I suggested was to consider the optics of certain sentiments.

Rhymes with shmacism.
Remember four years ago, when you were wrong.

Like totally and completely wrong. About everything.

When you thought we were being ridiculous to suggest that certain people might be emboldened by the election of Trump. When you thought that ideologies were static and the conflict-free (and to your mind morally superior) center you cleave to was the same center of ten years ago and twenty and probably back as far as it mattered.

You certainly weren't just a feckless person clinging to a middle-of-the-road fallacy because intellectual superiority was telling everyone with a conviction, some courage, or a principle that they were equally full of crap. Your "center" had never wavered and the "whole Overton window thing" was just a slick way of trying to convince yourself that not getting involved wasn't always a moral decision.

And now here we are. Just like we said we would be. Certain people were emboldened. They started marching with tiki torches and guns and murdering leftists and calling for a new civil war and genocide. They openly declared their white supremacy. They cheer the Gestapo abductions and naked bigotry. All this while the President gins them up and goads them on from the glow of his phone, ensconced within his gilded palace. And they delight in being so unimaginably cruel that they are willing to be––even valorize being––directly responsible for people's deaths in order to avoid their own mild discomfort.

We couldn't have predicted that a global pandemic would turn everything up to 11, but we told you this would happen. And all the places where we pointed out the cracks in the dike are exactly where we are now taking on water. We gave you a full-on prediction of exactly what was coming in presentation, symptoms, and progression. And you told us we were crazy, overwrought, hysterical.

So please think about how wrong you've been. Completely. Utterly. Demonstrably. Breathtakingly. Unambiguously. Unswervingly. Wrong.

Think about that before you turn around and try to tell the same exact people, "Well, you've been spot on for four years, but I'm sure it won't get any worse. It can't happen here. Surely, the GOP will grow a spine and stop him or some adult will enter the room, or he'll just stop at the water's edge of ending all pretense of democracy."

Just admit you're a coward without convictions, and that you will continue to cleave toward the middle of the road no matter where it lies, whether there's open, naked fascism manifesting in your country or not, because that's the morally and intellectually easy position to take instead of trying to tell everyone that you'll jump up and care when it gets "really bad"......but we're not there yet.

You're full of shit. You need to shut up.

You're WRONG.

He will literally use pictures of Trump's America to talk about what he's going to "stop."
But when you're done laughing, know that he's talking exactly like the abuser promising to change when
what they really want is not to have any more opposition to what they are doing.

Sometimes being a fascist isn't JUST invading Poland.

Sometimes being a fascist is desperately rationalizing that the people being kidnapped at night by unidentifiable members of the Department of Homeland Security without Miranda rights or due process had it coming because they were part of a protest in which property damage occurred (but LIVES were not endangered).

I think the most frustrating part of the far left is that I agree with them on almost everything and almost completely, but for the life of me they don't seem to realize that they TOO will have to govern a pluralistic society that has reactionary swings, and unless they are prepared to violently maintain an oppressive anti-democratic regime against MOST people in most parts of the country (the way the GOP does right now), what they really need to gear up for is an absolutely MASSIVE war of ideas instead of simply dismissing 95% of the labor class as not radical enough to attend the meetings and dismissing their struggles as unworthy while there's "REAL" leftism to be done. Seizing power in one election or "not selling out" will NEVER get them what they want.

One of my OWN articles from Not Writing About Writing made the cut for this compilation. Fascism: You're Soaking in It

If you have nothing to hide, the PATRIOT act shouldn’t scare you. They will never use it on US citizens.

-Conservatives, Moderates, and no small number of Liberals in 2001

You're SUPPOSED to get very uncomfortable and condemn the action when you see graffiti on a wall in a "nice" neighborhood or a trash can on fire. But only be sad and resigned when you see a whole town boarded and sliding into abject poverty and a kind of social self-harm because Walmart sucked it dry and then beat a path out of town. You're supposed to become enraged when you see a punch thrown against a Nazi in a viral youtube video, but not when white supremacists who do worse en masse are given pass after pass after "being-removed-from-a-watchlist" pass by the White-Supremacist-in-Chief. You've been effectively programmed by so many messages around around you to defend police as just doing their jobs, even when they attack their own peaceful citizens night after night. (And enraged if those citizens should ever get fed up and fight back.) You are supposed to clutch your pearls when you watch people carrying off insured televisions from Target during civil unrest, but have a strangely subdued sense of defeatism when laws or corporate malfeasance steal the exact same dollar value (or more) from hundreds, thousands, millions of working people at a time.

That's how you're SUPPOSED to feel. You are working as intended. You are being played like an instrument.

You've been culturally conditioned all your life to regard bottom-up violence as deeply horrifying, and top-down violence as a press-your-lips-together-and-sigh damned shame ("but what are you gonna do.") It's so slick that most people wouldn't even call it "violence" even though the outcomes are MORE theft, MORE shattered health, and MORE lost lives.....basically much MORE violent.

If you were to ever unpack that cultural conditioning and instead get deeply uncomfortable and condemn the actions of a company who skims their employee's hours or ignores OSHA or a lawmaker who signs a law that makes it easier to exploit or harm people, but shrugged big in a "hey, this is how the sausage gets made" manner about the fact that civil unrest is an inevitable outcome of systemized exploitation, you would be considered to be encouraging, even endorsing violence.

Which is a little weird because it's considered an imminently REASONABLE position when you sigh and regret and "have a big problem with..." but really DO nothing about the demonstrably and objectively greater harm of the top-down acts.

It might be worth considering who exactly is served by holding those two narratives as sacrosanct and who wants very, very badly for those two reactions to never switch places.

When you compile the metadata, I think you'll find that it's leftists who ACTUALLY get cancelled. Open, virulent bigots get tolerated, nuanced, contextualized, rationalized, given infinite "second" chances, and even get funded and elected. They just have to deal with a rough week on Twitter. But if you want to talk about universal healthcare, seriously discuss socialism, or radically decolonizing anything, you are laughed out of any mainstream venue.

Watch big trends, and this whole society tells on itself.

Typical American: **looks at a pyramid scheme** Well, that's just exploitation. The people at the bottom get practically none of what they are promised, and it all funnels up to the people at the top who started the whole thing. The people who get sucked in with dreams of their hard work equalling success get used up, invest gobs of their own money, do ALL the hard work, and if they're very lucky, have just a few dollars at the end of the month not already spent on more product. The poor folks who get caught up in it think they're going to be the exception, but you have to work so impossibly hard to even get to the middle, and there's basically no way you'll ever be doing anything but working to put money into the pockets of the people at the top. Gullible people might get duped into this, but I'm going to make a lot of memes about how awful it is, and we'll all secretly be laughing that anyone could believe they're going to make it. And I'm not entirely sure these people saying there ought to be a law against it are entirely off base.

TA: **looks at capitalism** This is the natural state of mankind.

Hey all.

I'm going to say two sentences and if you have a problem with either of them, please find that unfriend button, and we'll go our separate ways. Or if you feel suddenly compelled to stand up and explain WHY you have a problem, then I'LL find the button myself while I'm deleting the comment. Because it's not my place to argue about what feminism is (or isn't) but I'm also not going to let you actively harm my friends and loved ones.

Ready? Here we go:

1- Trans women are women.
2- Sex work is work.

Thank you.

(If you want to have a nuanced conversation about the intersections of exploitation or gender theory, there are many places to do so––including my inbox if we have that kind of relationship, although I do not speak FOR either community––but this space will never EVER be one of them.)

I'm a Libra so I can lick the bad attitude right out of you and fix your bad day.
I mean....

Any prediction about how this country is going to fare in the final analysis face off against the global pandemic that doesn't account for......

1- The fact that when shown the statistics on how much masks helped people NOT TO DIE, a major bloc of people refused to wear them because they found breathing stale air to be mildly uncomfortable. And when forced to, they stuck their noses out the top in passive aggressive protest.

2- The fact that these people were cheered on by the leader of the Republican Party and President of the United States who wanted to shovel dead bodies at the economy SO badly that he seized control of the data in plain sight and didn't even pretend he wasn't going to lie through his teeth that "everything is all better, so get back to work."

3- The fact that the the anti-science, anti-media, anti-expertise, anti-government sentiment that the Republican Party has been stoking for 30 years––because it was more politically expedient than examining their politically indefensible positions against things like climate change or the growing body of evidence that human sexuality isn't as "unnatural" as they thought––has led to a right-wing landscape that cannot be convinced of the severity of the pandemic. They simply cannot. Perhaps when everyone has lost someone, a critical mass will begin to listen to reason. 

4- The fact that the person in the highest office in this country is still regularly retweeting hydroxychloroquine shills and debunked conspiracy theories about bio weapons from China, and has decided that the 26-year head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is "misleading the public" to warn that opening schools might not be a bang-up idea.

5- The fact that we have the most cases and the most deaths of any country ON THE EARTH and conservatives are still putting their foot on the gas to OPEN.

....will be wildly unable to see how bad it's going to be.

You know those people who just...decide they've waited "long enough" at a stop sign?

I've been in the car with people like this. They measure whether they should go NOT by whether it's safe, but in terms of some sense of cosmic reimbursement that they accrued by waiting at all. It doesn't matter if a big rig with a set of Mad Max pole arms (each threading multiple human skulls) sticking out of the front grill is barreling down at 85 miles per hour and spewing ten-foot columns of flame out their exhaust stacks, they. have. waited. LONG. ENOUGH.

And they're gonna go now.

This is what rushing to open schools feels like.

I was wrong.

I apologize.

I openly, derisively laughed at those of you who put "Demon Sperm" on your July bingo cards and I was wrong. In 2020, I should have known better.

2019: **rips bong** "Dude, I'm gonna put meth gators, coke boars, the literal Borg, biggest sandstorm EVAH, 3rd amendment, murder hornets, and demon sperm on my bingo card for shits and giggles. It'll be so funny."

2020: "Bruh....."

I still need a couple of adds for my cohabitation polycule, personally. 
**waggles eyebrows**

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Best Contemporary Fantasy Book (or Series) [And a tiny meta/personal]

What is the very best fantasy book (or series) written between after 2010.

The next couple of weeks is going to be a blur and involve a lot of good posts, but it will require some ramp up. I'm officially in a quarantine/vacation from my other job until next Wednesday (because my immunocompromised client needs an abundance of caution but I needed a blood test). However, it ended with a basically a 24 hour shift and a non-stop afternoon and evening of chores. So the good stuff is coming, but not until I've had a day mostly off and then spent another day scowling at the "wrong word." That means this week will be successively more intricate jazz hands, culminating on Friday with a harder hitting post about libraries, and next week should be a bit of some "old school" pacing.

For today however, to give myself a day (mostly) off, I'm just going to remind everyone of our poll that's running for the best contemporary fantasy.

Everyone will get three (3) votes. Use them....wisely.

The poll itself is on the bottom left of the side menus, below the "About the Author." If you're on mobile you have to click "webpage view" then scroll alllllllllll the way to the bottom, you can find the poll. But if that doesn't work either, you are experiencing a problem that is not common but is normal, and you can go right to the website here: https://poll.fm/10582371

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Best Contemporary Fantasy Book (or Series)––Final Round

What is the best very fantasy book (or series) written after 2010? 

Don't forget to vote! Your nominations have formed our semi-final polls, your votes on the semi-final polls decided which titles made it to the final round. And now it's time to make your voices heard. I'm going to wrap this poll up and post results in mid August, but DO NOT DELAY. It will be over before you know it. So take a moment to vote for your favorite fantasy genre book or series that has come out just in the last decade.

And don't forget that the poll will let you vote again after one week. Since I can't monitor or stop the shenanigans, I encourage it. Vote early. Vote often.

Everyone will get three (3) votes. Use them....wisely.

The poll itself is on the bottom left of the side menus, below the "About the Author." If you're on mobile you have to click "webpage view" then scroll alllllllllll the way to the bottom, you can find the poll. But if that doesn't work either, you are experiencing a problem that is not common but is normal, and you can go right to the website here: https://poll.fm/10582371

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

An Inescapable Fact (Personal, Meta)

I tried to wait on this as long as I could, but I can't put it off any longer. 

The truth is, it is not going well. 

I really, really wanted to put this off until the worst of the first wave of the pandemic was in the rear-view and some tiny vestige of global economic recovery was starting, but I live in a country with a sizeable contingent of people who won't wear masks, or who stick their noses out the top in an act of passive resistance, and while they use words like "rights" and "freedoms," in praxis they are dedicated to spreading a potentially fatal disease because someone dared to tell them what to do. 

I didn't want to do this. I have certainly had my own difficulties writing during Shelter In Place. I have a lot of bad A.D.D. brain days. I'm working entirely too much at my nanny job. I haven't been able to write HALF as much as I want to. But five months in, I have to deal with Sh.I.P. ing like it's the new normal....because we don't have the culture or leadership for it not to be. 

And it's not going well. The global recession has begun to hit my patrons, and crowdfunding is one of the first things folks cut when a budget gets tight. A lot of folks are canceling or reducing their contributions, and I've lost a LOT of money in the last five months. There have been ups and downs. I even ended up a couple of dollars ahead of the month prior in June, but overall things have been slipping.

So despite my intentions to wait until the pandemic wasn't hitting your wallets and MY productivity quite as hard, it doesn't seem like, in my neck of the woods, either the pandemic or the economic collapse is going to let up any time soon.

I love my big donors, and I couldn't pay my rent without them, but I also couldn't pay my rent without HUNDREDS of smaller donors. They form the foundation upon which my ability to have any financial security at all rests, and their steady and small contributions are the reason a big donor can pull or reduce their funding without me needing an oxygen tank and a fistful of quaaludes. One of the reasons I offer one of my best rewards to folks who sign up for my second-smallest tier––$3 a month––is because I value my small donors so much. I know it's a hard time for someone to find a chunk of their budget for crowdfunding, so I'm hoping to find a lot of folks who have $1, $3, or $5 to give. 

I'm gonna keep doing what I'm doing one way or another. But if you want to help me keep the rent paid and lights on, right now I sure could use a lot of small donors to make up for some of the recent hits. I'm making up a lot of lost revenue during Sh.I.P. with the nannying hours, but I need something from writing to still be there when that ends. If you like what I do, and want me to keep doing it (and doing it more), I could use your help. 

Please visit my Patreon if you can help. Even a dollar or three a month makes a big difference when a lot of folks take that step. And the ongoing support allows me to plan and budget for the future.

If an ongoing donation, for whatever reason, isn't good for you, of course I'm happy to get one-time donations as well. I can take donations through Paypal, Venmo (chris.brecheen@gmail.com) or arrange for some other form if electronic transfers don't work. Some people even literally send me checks in the mail.

Of course, the rewards aren't "worth" the amount of the tiers, but they are my small way of saying thank you for helping me stay afloat, and they go from getting in on backchannel status updates and a monthly newsletter all the way up to early access, a quarterly major newsletter, autographs, and even tutoring if you want it. 

And as always:

  1. Thank you so much. Even if you can't help. If you'd asked me ten years ago if I wanted a writing career to involve daily contact with readers, I would have reacted like some people do when you say the word "moist." Now I can't imagine my life without you all. 
  2.  The algorithm for social media rewards engagement, so if you can't help financially but want to do something (or you want to help out doubly so), please consider reacting to this post and/or commenting. I'm told GIFs work the best, so feel free to have a gif party in the comments.