Maudlin Meandearings

I hate doing blog posts about publishing, except at MGC, because most of my readers are not writers (I think.  At least most of you mugs posting comments aren’t) and therefore it starts feeling a bit like inside baseball.

But sometimes it bites me in weird ways.  And this post is weird (and confused, and undigested.  Bear with me.)

And I’ve been nooddling a post on where publishing is right now – it’s not as straight forward as it seems – under the dual impact of the con and its panels and the rather interesting post Dave Freer put up at MGC for April’s Fools.

So… the con this weekend.  I did enjoy it, though the scheduling was… odd, to put it mildly.  For instance, I was put on a panel on writing your first novel.  Yes, there was a best selling author on that panel too, but she wrote her first novel in 2009.  For me “How to write your first novel” is sort of like “how to suvive your first year as a newly wed.”  Given that I’ve been married 30 years and it was a different world… uh… I don’t know.

I mean, however you look at it, I either wrote my first novel on a typewriter with a broken rewind ribbon mechanism (so when it was all on one side, I needed to pause and wind it by hand.  Which was hard, since it was made of chipped flint.) circa 1985 (if we go with the first novel I wrote for publication.) or I wrote it in 1998 after selling it to a traditional publisher on proposal (which might still happen, but I very much doubt) if you go with my first published novel.  (I reject a priori the notion that the first novel I wrote at six, before I had any clue what publishing was or how it worked was that first “novel.”  For one, I suspect it was all of 20k words.)

In either case, one, granted, more than the other, they are like things from a lost world in terms of what needed to be in that novel to actually make it to the shelves someday.  Because the first one, though it was never published for other reasons, if we still lived as we did in 85, we’d be talking about how to make your corrections clean, how to work with a carbon so you had a copy, etc. etc.

For the one in 1998, by the time I sold selling your first novel on proposal was already a rarity so in terms of “what to do to sell” I got nothing and in terms of “how to write your first novel for publication” I could only say “write what the publisher wants.”  Which I did with the Shakespeare series – which brings up the question “should you do it for love or money” which I’m not prepared to go into.  (I do like those books, mind you, but for a while there it looked like I was going to be shoved into writing JUST that kind of overwrought literary fantasy, and I don’t think I could do JUST that, forever.) It also brings up the question of “What’s your first novel that sold?” because Darkship Thieves was written and revised to close to the form that sold before I wrote Ill Met By Moonlight.  It’s just that none of my agents would send it out.

Which brings us to how odd it felt to be on a panel on writing your first novel and the gentleman next to me saying he’s not sold his novel, but he’s got it with an agent, so of course…

I had this wild desire to say “So, of course, if you sell you’ll pay 15% and give away your copyright, unless you’re very, very lucky.”

I didn’t.  You don’t want to lie to the young (And though he was probably my age, he was young in the profession) but if they want to lie to themselves, it’s their problem.

I wasn’t on any how-to-write workshops (which might have been just as well, since these seemed to be mostly empty) and I didn’t have a reading or a signing (though a lot of beginning, self-published authors did.)  This is not a complaint, as such, but an observation.

The observation is this: every local con I participate in, I need to fight for reading/signing and if I get one scheduled it is, inevitably, either against the bestselling author OR during dinner hour.  Even during Worldcon, in 08, when it was local, I had no reading, though readings were given to people who hadn’t published a book in years/weren’t writing a book/had no intention of writing a book.

A certain confusion is normal, in this sort of thing, of course, but the way I get shunted to the “Oh, who could possibly want to listen to a reading from her” position started grating a good five years ago.  Particularly since when I can afford to go to cons in the South like ConStellation or Liberty con, or even in other parts of the country (Lunacon) and get given a reading at a normal time, not against major events, I usually have a packed room.

Again, I’m not complaining about this con specifically.  My only complaint of this con, specifically, is that they don’t realize authors aren’t college students and therefore schedule us really heavily.  (Though part of this might be the problem of the constantly breaking down body which is not their fault, and which I’ve lived with all my life, courtesy of being really premature.)

I suspect locally – because a lot of it depends on how involved you get with fandom, how much you publicize, and – frankly – how much you give yourself airs, and also on the local fandom’s PERCEPTION of your career, (including any rumors going around) the fault is at least as much mine as theirs.

I started realizing there was something wrong with how fandom perceived me, when, circa 2006, with the Shakespeare series VERY firmly dead, an urban fantasy (Draw One In The Dark) and the musketeer mysteries coming out, I still got put ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY on “Shakespeare in modern literature” panels or “How to write literary fantasy” panels or – and by that time it was already mind boggling – “how to sell your first novel” panels.

In fact, in 2008 worldcon, the ONLY panels I was on (I crashed a bunch of others because, so there) were on Shakespeare and Fantasy.  2008.  Any Man So Daring, the second of that series, had been out of print since 2004.  Since then I had written urban fantasy, historical fantasy (the Magical British Empire) historical mystery, fictionalized biography, had a contract for Darkship Thieves and…

I think it was in 2008 that, at my signing, a local big time fan stopped by the table, looked down at a spread that included bookmarks for the Magical British Empire and Gentleman Takes A Chance and said “So, you’re just writing mystery now?  You’ve given up on sf/f?”

It was in 2007 that, as I was describing how I’d started art classes to rest from books, a local fan/book vendor told me “So, you failed at writing and you’re trying another career?”  Given that I was under contract for six books, which was the impetus for doing art so I could rest my mind, I was mind-boggled at the idea this meant “failing.”  (Also, if I intended to be an artist, I’d need to LEAVE writing behind.  I can do it at “good amateur” level, and next year I can probably enter some shows — but pro I’m not.  To make a living as a cover artist, I’d need to spend two years practicing.  At least.  Look at the cover of The Muse’s Darling, on Amazon.  That’s my art work.)

No, I wasn’t a bestseller.  We could go into how at the time the push model of book marketing had become such that you couldn’t be a bestseller unless the house had put you in that slot.  (It wasn’t QUITE true for all series and all houses, but the house had to at least allow it to happen.  For instance, when the first musketeer book sold out of the print run, it wasn’t shipped for six months – even while the second was.  Which, of course, meant that tons of people didn’t buy the second, because they hadn’t read the first.  When the first shipped again, the second had been returned.) I could also discuss how “bestseller” is not the be all, end all of a career.  It measures velocity (and lay down) so that you can have a huge fandom and still not be able to hit the bestseller list, because your books are “slow, steady sellers.”  This usually – eventually – makes you a bestseller, but it takes time, and also a certain amount of fanfare and distribution to get the fast sales up front which right now doesn’t work unless you’re one of the two people a (big) publisher will spend a ton of money on.  Or you’re a naturally good promoter (which as we’re seeing I’m not.)

However, given that by 2008, already, most people’s “career” consisted of two books (if you were lucky) the fact that I’ve been constantly under contract since 2001, except for three months in 2003 and that I’ve been making not a spectacular amount of money, but enough to support myself if I were single – PARTICULARLY when you take in account that one of the houses kept making me change name and genre – can’t be considered “since you failed.”  BUT that’s clearly the general fandom perception locally.

So… what is at the back of what seems to be a pretty well rooted mis-perception of what I’m doing and how it’s going, among local fandom?  Well, it could be political.  At least to an extent, it almost certainly is.  The fact that I work for Baen is not a plus.  I remember how shocked they were that a lot of fans wanted them to have David Drake as a guest.  And at least in Denver most of the guests of honor tend to be among the “reds in sf.”  (Except Eric Flint, since he works for Baen, of course.)

But since this has been going on from before I worked for Baen, I think it’s more than that.

Part of it is, undeniably the accent.  Yeah, yeah, I know, and I’m not claiming “discrimination” but we all judge each other that way, and I sometimes feel no matter what I say after I open my mouth, people hear “foreign born, self published.” (In fact, even though the Shakespeare series got a ton of good reviews, even back then, I read a lot of people disparaging me — it was embarrassing then, remember — as “self published.”)

Part of it is my presentation of myself.

I come from a class-intensive society, more reminiscent of Japan than of even Great Britain, at least when I was growing up.  The way you dressed and behaved in public was dictated by rules of where you fit (and going too high was as bad as going too low.  The later was “not giving yourself respect” and the first was deception.)  Your level of language informed people where you fit in the social ladder and…

And I was always very bad at it.  It’s not that I didn’t understand it.  I’m not stupid.  It’s that I live too much in my own skull to think about “how am I appearing” and also that frankly I like people, and I don’t care what “class” they are.  So I would follow handymen around and be very respectful (they can do things I can’t) while asking questions about what they were doing.  I would pause on the street to chat with the fishwoman, if she went to elementary school with me.  I generally divide the world into “interesting and not interesting” and couldn’t care less what impression that gives tot hose that divide it by money or status.  Also, the way I dress is usually “what I like” not what people perceive as cool.

This is stupid, of course, and I don’t need you to tell me that.

What I didn’t realize, at least for a long time, is that publishing is (or was) more like Portugal than like the US.  It was top down, there were classes, and fandom is very good at tuning to those classes and reacting to PERCEIVED class of an author.  Part of it, of course, is that fandom are odds, and they want it to look like they’re excluded because they’re above the rabble.  This is why push marketing worked much better for, say, sf/f than for say, romance, where it never took completely and where they always had both surprise bestsellers and pushed authors that flopped.  If publishers push a writer and give signs this writer is “valued” or “special” the “vocal” fandom tends to follow.  (This is also why, with the exception of Bujold, Baen gets no awards despite their books selling quite well.  You see, Baen has been branded as a pariah and to associate with it is to share its status.  [In fact two agents in a row tried to prevent me from working for Baen for just this reason.])

So, it wasn’t just that I work for Baen or the politics…  It’s that I don’t act as a big shot author.  (In fact, I’m not absolutely sure how a big shot author is supposed to act.)  When asked about some effect on a panel, I don’t start the answer with “in my book.”  And I don’t list ALL my books at the beginning of a panel.  (Partly because it’s tiresome.  Partly because, given most people on the panel have one or two books published, when I list them they either shut up or become passive aggressive.)  Also, because I’m working really hard most of the time, I tend to do things like leave for a con without bookmarks or promo materials.  (Hey, guys, this weekend I left without UNDERWEAR and we had to drop by the store on the way to the hotel. I also left without makeup and decided to do without.  This might have been a mistake, as I think I looked very ill.)

I tend to assume that people read the bio in the program – at least when they’re scheduling programming.  This, I suppose, means I’m insane.

Anyway – the irritation at the panels that made me go “uh?” including the one on the “age barrier in publishing” that had my entire family and, because we had no clue what they meant (Uh?  Age barrier?  Which way?  Up until fifteen years ago, they were saying you needed to be 45 to be mature enough to write.  Ten years ago they started publishing twenty year olds.  Yes, that means they skipped my age group.  What else is new?  I still got in.) and which ended up turning into “Why would you go traditional right now?” has morphed, on reading Dave Freer’s post, into a “Yes, that’s sensible and would never, ever, ever happen” frustration and then on reading Amanda’s post today, into “So they want to publish people who are already good at doing everything they supposedly do?” and also “What the heck do they mean ebook sales are flattening?  I think what they mean is that the rate of growth is flattening.  And who in h*ll is reporting this?  The big six?  They’ve reported the same 100 some ebook sales for each of my books for years.  And heck, I sell more than that, in SHORT STORIES indie.”  I mean, seriously, most people I know are now at least reading paper-and-e.  And the younger ones tend to e-only.  And judging by the number of emails I got when Baen wasn’t on kindle, any number of them read ebook only.

Will ebooks ever replace the paper books?  Yes, I think so.  It’s generational.  My kids live with kindle and kindle fire growing off the ends of their fingers.  I think eventually – in twenty or so years – paper books will be like leather-bound, collector’s editions today.  They’ll be what you buy for the two or three authors you love and want to keep clean and untouched, and signed.  Heck, mine became that way a while ago.  At least for hardcover.

The sign of this – like the sign that TVs are going either massively big or watched on computer, which is craigslist being full of “free entertainment center” offers from people upgrading/changing over – is starting to show in “free bookshelves” all over craigslist.  It’s also visible in planes, where people more and more are reading on electronic devices.  (I wonder how airport bookstores are doing?)

Are indie bookstores doing better?  Well, it would be pretty hard for them to do worse than they’ve done the last twenty years.  And with the implosion of the chains, with their top-down and “tri state” shelf stocking, it was inevitable that bookstores that actually bring in authors for signings, have knowledgeable staff, etc, will do better.

Is it a long term growth thing?  Who knows?  I think eventually there will be a place for bookstore-like hangouts – perhaps bookstore cafes – where you can meet other local booklovers in the flesh and where, if you hit an ebookstore from there they get a cut – kind of like the referral links for people to put on their website but space based.

But I do think most bulk reading will be in ebook.  From what I hear from my colleagues – not in Baen.  Baen is different.  Read Dave Freer’s post yesterday to find out why. – the printrun numbers and sell throughs are in free fall.  The ebooks through traditional publishers (at least reported) aren’t picking up, and most authors I know (except Baen) are at least contemplating an escape.  Even in Baen those who write other stuff — me — have an indie side.

Now this is where it worries me.  Because if I need to somehow give the impression I’m a big shot author before I become one, I’m OBVIOUSLY in deep trouble.  I can write.  I can write okay.  Though my opinion of how well I write now is guaranteed to be very low five years from now, I think I write well enough to be enjoyed.

But I clearly can’t give the impression I’m a pro, much less an old pro, at least not locally.  Perhaps mom was right and the “giving yourself respect” gene was left out.  Perhaps it’s the fact I forget to go to the hairdressers because I’m writing a novel.  Perhaps it’s that I treat starting out newbies, if they’re good, with the same respect I give bestsellers.

Or perhaps local fandom is right, and I’m a failure, for a certain definition of failure.  Who knows?

Local cons always leave me a little maudlin, a little depressed, wondering if something is wrong with me that can’t be fixed.

And the way the field is falling apart so that, as with the state of the country, nobody knows not’ing isn’t helping.

So you will forgive me for this very scattered and vaguely self-pitying (though more self-reproaching) post.  At least I hope you will.  Part of it, I know, is tiredness from the con (I finally feel like I’ve slept enough today.)

If you wish to support my so called “failing” career, hit up the side links and buy Darkship Thieves, or Darkship Renegades, or A Few Good Men, which is a book I didn’t mean to write, and is a complex book but is also, in my opinion, the best thing I’ve ever written.  I’ll be bringing out the rest of the backlist and a few things (Fantasy, mostly, though some mystery and a couple of horror.  Yes, there’s SF too, but I probably should (?) run that by Baen first) from the trunk (not as bad as it sounds.  Most were “agent rejected” because they’re “too weird” and “no one is doing anything like this!”  Like, you know, Witchfinder.)  I just need time to actually, you know, edit stuff.  Because a lot of it more than five years old, and needs editing.

And – as bad at promoting as I am, and as bad as giving a good image of my career – the one thing I can promise you is: Read all you want.  I’ll write more.

UPDATE:Subscribe button installed (you have NO idea what it involved.) For those not using paypal, I’ll eventually get a po box (it tells you how I’m functioning that I spelled that pox and couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong) and post the addy. Meanwhile two things: first, I don’t expect anyone to donate at the insane (or even the next down level, which now escapes me) but my mentors in these things assure me some people might be crazy enough to. So, it’s there. Next thing — if you subscribe and don’t get an aknowledgement over the next week or so, ping me in comments. It should notify me, but it’s new (of course) and it might not.

422 thoughts on “Maudlin Meandearings

  1. > Is it a long term growth thing? Who knows? I think eventually there will be a place for bookstore-like hangouts – perhaps bookstore cafes – where you can meet other local booklovers in the flesh and where, if you hit an ebookstore from there they get a cut – kind of like the referral links for people to put on their website but space based.

    As I work through the fourth (FOURTH! UGH!) draft of my novel this is one thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot: what the “third places” of the future will be. I was born in the 70s and didn’t really socially come of age until the 90s when there were coffeehouses on every street corner. My favorite third place by far is the monstrously large Barnes & Noble down the block from me (where I got to meet Larry Correia last year – woot!). As you point out, the rise of e-books is inevitable, and I wouldn’t count on monster sized bookstores existing forever.

    So, in 2065 or so, where will people hang out? I think that the ambiance of bookstores is quite important to a lot of people, and thus I’ve been thinking more and more about the idea of a return of the “private club” business model from Victorian England: a big coffeehouse, perhaps with racks of books, perhaps with some gaming tables, perhaps with a few dart boards) where the difference between the rent and the revenue from coffee is covered not by profits from selling books, but by membership fees.

    Would people really pay to be a member of a club? Well, they pay now to support NPR (perhaps not too many readers at THIS blog ;-), but, still you take my point). People (a) like their bookish environments, and (b) are clubbish. So, yes, I’ve talked myself into it: in my fictional future world, people are going to be members of bookstore clubs.

    1. I’d been thinking about something similar. Possibly some private or semi-private spaces for people to rent for movie nights, or something. Probably a location-by-location decision about alcoholic beverages being available.

      1. I think there’s a place for a business model like that, but I also think that there’s a place for “it’s always open / everyone knows your name” type places. I’ve been thinking about this more as I poke around looking for fun things to do. The problem is that a lot of the active stuff is deeper in the city than I care to commute after a long day at work, and the stuff in the suburbs is often “this is for my friends; it’s in my living room”. If the Barnes & Noble analog charged a $4 cover, or rented large tables by the hour, then a tabletop gaming group could get together there.

        1. Maybe a mild-mannered bookstore by day, but a member’s only hangout after, say, 6pm? I’d totally go for that. You could have a network of places, even, that are the members-only place one day a week. Wouldn’t have to be 24-7.

          1. I like that! Gratifies the desire for exclusivity and “secret knock” fantasies, but the places can still do business without having to explain cover charges and other things.

            1. It used to be that cons (SF, Comic, other) were rare events, for which people traveled vast distances once a year. Now, most parts of the country, there is a con within a few hours travel pretty much every other weekend.

              What you have proposed sounds an awful lot like a con, perpetually ongoing. Some dealers’ tables, some gaming, a panel or two. Paid for by membership fees (available entry tickets for the day, weekend, week, month, year) and dealer fees (gamers and panels also rent their space, possibly for nominal charge, possibly for nice fees, depending on date & time.)

              In fact, while it has been a long time since I read any Brother Cadfael, it strikes me that cons are very similar to ye olde medieval faires* so that might be a model to analyse and adapt.

              *Instead of the bull & bear fight we put Flint & Kratman on a panel, but the principle remains the same.

              1. ” Now, most parts of the country, there is a con within a few hours travel pretty much every other weekend.”

                Maybe in your part of the country, I have never been to a con, and thought it might be interesting to go to one, so I did some checking on the computer. There are three a year within 5 hours of me.

                1. My part of country being NC, there are cons in Virginia, NC, SC, Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee, Kaintuck and even Southern Ohio, all in a six-hour drive, more or less. Could reach parts of Pennsylvania, too.

                  I believe Mystik Waboose (spelling?) is based in Florida but hits a con every weekend.

                  Cannot speak for less population dense parts of the country. My impression has been that Texas & Four Corners states had no shortages, but that impression is superficial and derived from authors blogging about con appearances.

                  1. There are starting to be a lot in Denver. I wouldn’t go into Boulder without full armor made of whatever is to commies as garlic is to vampires. BUT that said, there are a lot, and I wouldn’t mind hitting one now and then, only we rarely hear of it here, 90 miles away.

                    1. Logic and facts will repel most Lefties, although disdain is effective in some situations. Unfortunately, they gain strength in numbers and are likely to resort to pitchforks and torchlight processions.

                      N.B. – this is humour employed as a separation agent, expressing superiority over an absent third party as a means of promoting group cohesion.

                    2. Vampire Commies – Lets see: One identifies and attacks people from whom they can extract the net result of all of the productivity of their body over their entire life for their own uses, and the other tries to suck your blood. If you merge the two you get expropriational immortals who only take your stuff at night.

                      At least with Vamps, you are only at danger from them after dark (unless they are the sparkly kind).

              2. “*Instead of the bull & bear fight we put Flint & Kratman on a panel, but the principle remains the same.”

                I don’t know, I believe a bull and bear fight would be a lot less bloody.

      2. I really miss the Japanese internet cafes– the local one was basically a glorified cubical farm, with comfortable chairs or benches, a good desktop and fast internet. You could leave the cubical and go order food, and they’d bring it to you when it was ready, and you paid when you left. I seem to remember there were more public spaces, and soundproofed karaoke rooms as well, but I didn’t spend time in them.

        Add some recroom type games, and I’d join the club!

        1. I have seen articles about a growing trend in Japan of cat cafes, where you can go and sit with felines galore.

          1. Too bad it is such a long airline flight– oh well, the cats in our neighborhood say hi to me and give me a rub whenever I go outside. It will have to do. 😉

    2. I can prety much guarantee that they wouldn’t let me or my writing in their club… too far Right (which used to be center… but the Left slid over so far that they fell off of the left end of the bench making we middle-of-the-roaders “Right.”) while all the Big Money folks are waaaay Left.

      1. Dave,

        Yes, I’ve had several friends do beta reads. Most thought that draft 2 was solid. I know that four might sound excessive, but there’s a lot to learn about characterization and plotting a novel, and I’m convinced that the work to date has been worth it.

        When revision stops helping, I’ll stop revising. 😉

          1. 100% agreed. In this case, though, I think that I’m doing a lot of work that many writers do via the “four books so bad I never showed them to anyone before my first publishable book”.

            Anyway, we’ll see. The proof is in the pudding.

              1. Or not. I found if I let them live: DST, DRD, AFGM the books are better. Turns out in SF I have an unerring sense of what people* like.

                *People who like classical SF not message SF.

              2. Only kill the babies which you alone like. If the rest of your beta readers like that baby, KEEP IT!

                Unless, of course, the character up and says, “Okay, I’m going to die here.” Which they have been known to do.

                (Yeah, sometimes the Author’s Darling needs to go, because it’s a leech. But if you kill everything you like in a book, why the hell are you writing it?! Sounds like *spit* lit-a-chur to me, where everybody dies and the reader either hurls the book against the wall or slits their wrist from a sense of companionship.)

                1. … where everybody dies …

                  Like the one line in the movie Heavy Metal “He dies, she dies, everybody dies.”

  2. Hey, I don’t mind the publishing posts! I’m finding all this fascinating. Never been to a con in my life (and I’ve never heard of the ones you are talking about) but I love hearing your take on the dynamics and getting a snippet of what it’s like.

  3. e-books will replace paper books because e-books cost around one one-billionth as much to make.

    I think it’s very likely the artificially high prices on e-books from the Big Six are the only thing keeping them afloat.

            1. I’d sign up for a WMG affiliate slot. I took a couple of Dean’s online writing seminars: fantastic. Great stuff, and I’d recommend them for anybody. They’re designed to fit around normal (read: insanely busy) schedules, and they TEACH USEFUL WRITING THINGS. Id say cheap at twice the price – and they are – but I understand everybody is in a different spot.

              1. I just finished a workshop with them– I won’t be able to do another for a while (money issues), but I will do it again when I have money in the kitty–

                    1. Still one of my favorite character development gags in Buffy– where Spike and four big, nasty demons are playing poker for kittens, and… some cute little girl comes up, I think it was Dawn, and they all end up being very, very nice to the kittens.

                      I was shocked that I had to explain why I was laughing so hard the first time I saw the scene!

        1. I hear from my bestseller friends that the critters are now doing to them what they did to mislisters for years. Bestsellers have more money than we do, and are more desperate just now. I’d say there’s a more than even chance fecal matter will meet rotating object in the next five years.

            1. I know– right. I shouldn’t be gleeful over someone else’s misfortune… but… I can’t help but feeling vindicated. lol

              1. There’s a reason schadenfreude has gone from being something that was explained at every use when I was a teen, to something that gets dropped into conversations at random.

            2. We should not rejoice in the suffering of others . . . unless the b@stards have it coming to them. Especially if they’ve been warned.

              1. I’ll be there with you, and bring chocolate (Australian brands – still taste good, but have a higher resistance to heat)

                1. Hershey’s used to make a “tropical chocolate” but I think they discontinued it. We would send them to troops n the hot places, and they also traveled well on river running canoe trips.

    1. Paper will stick around, but will jump a couple notches in quality: leather bindings, gold leaf, etc. Collector’s items and heirlooms, and not much else. Costs – especially if the Left starts scrabbling for more power – will become too much to allow otherwise.

      1. I do hope some types of research/study nonfiction will stay available as some sort of paper books, with cheap binding. I like making notes on the margins when the text is something I might actually want to study, not just read for fun, and for some reason I seem to be able to remember stuff I have written down with a pen a bit better than what I have typed, so at least for me the paper ones can work better. And for some reason the thought of scribbling on an expensive edition, leather binding and all that, does not quite appeal to me, so I’d need the cheap edition so I can freely abuse it.

        By the way, is there any way to use a tablet or any of the readers safely while taking a bath? You drop a paperback and you only lose a cheap book you can replace, dropping a tablet on the other hand… and I like to read in sauna too. Most paperbacks actually seem to take a few trips to sauna pretty well, although sometimes you end up with a loose leaf edition.

        1. well, yes. You put the reader in a ziploc bag. But I’m sure the other will come.

          And, btw, you can make notes on the tablets. I’m editing on them…

              1. They’re mostly solid state, so I expect they can actually take higher temps longer than you can. A good sauna is on the list of “eventualies” to be built when we land someplace for longer than 36 months.

          1. One would think that there would already be specially produced water resistant sleeves on the market for readers — sold for various applications such as those whose work requires them to be outdoors in all kinds of weather, reading in the bath, taking on camping trips, etc..

        2. I bought my cheapie Kobo for the express purpose of using it to read in the bath (using the plastic bag to keep condensation off). Works beautifully. If I’m very patient, I can even play games on my Kindle Fire in the tub (again, with the bag). I only risked the Kobo after reading numerous reports about people doing so, and apparently one of the “big” names in the ereader industry does it all the time. (Not sure if Bezos, but that’s my guess.)

        3. You could use something like this:

          On Tue, Apr 2, 2013 at 11:16 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

          > ** > pohjalainen commented: “I do hope some types of research/study > nonfiction will stay available as some sort of paper books, with cheap > binding. I like making notes on the margins when the text is something I > might actually want to study, not just read for fun, and for some reason” >

  4. As someone working on getting a novel published for the first time, I think these kinds of posts are more than welcome. I’m a bit greedy like that, though.

  5. Pure guess on my part, but maybe your appearance as a Real Person(tm) raises uncomfortable questions in *some* of the fen. You have a “rich and vibrant accent” (I watched the interview with VodkaPundit, so there) but you obstinately refuse to blather on about how you’ve been oppressed/tribal lands stolen/whatever the grievance du jour is. To them, it may appear you gleefully write whatever the hell you want AND get it published, and they are worried they will run out of ideas. (you know the type…) If you aren’t a superstar by appearance or behavior, then, gosh, maybe ordinary people CAN write and get published and what excuse do THEY have? I may not be making much sense, but I have a point somewhere… Maybe your rational attitude of “you can do it if you work hard enough, yes, even you” is viewed by *them* as some mean old drill sergeant saying “Yep that’s mud NOW LOW-CRAWL THROUGH IT, MAGGOTS!”

    I’ve been to enough cons and met enough Famous Writers to know they frequently dress like slobs and (one memorable occasion) had severe personal hygiene issues, so I’m dubious your appearance is the cause. You probably even wear matching socks. I’ve also been on enough panels to realize what a lot of people in the audience are really looking for is validation. Someone to listen to them, someone they perceive as important. Someone to agree with what they already think.

    1. And she admitted to wearing brand new underwear to this last con. How old school can you get!

      1. LOL. I usually try to dress well, and as I’m starting to look (sigh) like “someone’s nice mom” instead of “Dangerous seductress” (Nature is really cruel to women. Sigh.) I’ve been going more conventional and conservative in attire.

        1. Oh GAWD yes– I am looking like someone’s nice grandma. CURSES When I say snarky things to my husband’s female workmates, they just pat me on the head and say “oh, how sweet.” UGH

            1. Hey, I find it kind of nice. I don’t stress about my looks anymore, like I used to, as far as I’m concerned now it’s enough that I’m clean and my clothes are clean, in good condition and comfortable, current fashions and whatever be damned.

          1. Aging is nearly equally unkind to the aging roué, just in different ways. Consider the disdain displayed toward such Lotharios by modern damsels, willing to trade their charms for the toothless rake’s fortune. Although I suppose an old fool can find his pleasures in the exploitation, it requires an amazing suspension of disbelief.

              1. I have teeth. I can take them out and put them in a jar to be cleaned, but I have teeth.

        2. Conventional and conservative (and professional) – those are good, though (just try to sneak in some not-so-conventional jewelry, which you can get away with at a con. ^_^)

            1. File under if I win the lottery*: a wardrobe composed of elegant goth/steam punk for con wear…with appropriate accessories.

              *which is a fantasy, as I agree with Garrison Kellor’s observation that ‘the lottery is a tax on people who are poor at math.’ (Ah, and as the government runs the lotteries and the schools one could conclude…)

          1. Skulls? Pentacles? Wrong message? 🙂

            I have actually pretty much stopped wearing my pentacles, far too many of the people who do are die hard lefties. There are libertarian and conservative witches and pagans, even here (besides me – and more of those who call themselves anarchists but most of them seem to actually be more or less communists), but few enough that finding each other can be a bit difficult (careful probing questions and so on before starting to reveal your own stance on things, once. Now I usually just start with ‘do you like guns?’ which seems to make most run, and fast :D). I have met only a couple who were sort of kind of on the same page, almost anyway, back when I did actively did search others out, and one of them was a satanist.

        3. Well, there’s your problem – dressing in a tire makes you look crazy. (Runs)

      2. I don’t think new has anything to do with it, admitting to wearing underwear at all is old school, at least if you believe the characters in a lot of books these days.

  6. JUST when you were feeling sorry for yourself because you’re a Baen author comes…..

    DemiCon2013 Des Moines, IA May 3 – 5
    On Demicon weekend Baen will release the new David Weber Compendium, House of Steel! To help celebrate, several folks from the BuNine group will be in attendance and will hold special sessions to kick off this great new book.
    (Des Moines is a straight run from Denver East on I-80 – well… Okay you have to go North a bit on I 76 to GEt to I 80… but still…)

      1. Someone’s making excuses… I actually went to this one a few years back… it’s a nice little con. (The one I went to was in the Hotel Ft Des Moines where in the entryway to the parking garage there is an actual brass sign indicating that it is the “Group W Bench” of Arlo Guthrie fame…) At the time I mostly volunteered for misc stuff like security at the art show and that sort of thing. Want me to check if it’s too late for panels? Bet not…

        1. Michael,
          Right now we’re looking at the very real possibility of the wage earner in this household being unemployed this month. While I make enough to support MYSELF, my income just about stretches to groceries, if we trim back a little. Not mortgage, not utilities, not household repairs (which are constant. This is a Victorian) and certainly not college tuition. And our savings are just about empty due to last year’s craptastic car and household emergencies.

          Yes, I’ve noted that part of the success “with fandom” is the ability to do a lot of cons. We’ve gone from very strapped to okay to very strapped to okay… repeat over the last ten years. I don’t see it changing, either, unless I hit big OR a miracle occurs, at least until the boys are out of the house, which due to the economy could be… years.

          So, there’s “excuses” and there’s “I’d like to keep roof over head and kibble in the cat bowl.” Sorry.

                1. I need to find a (preferably local) engineering company who will let younger son fetch coffee or count paperclips or enter data — so long as they let him associate with real engineers, they don’t even need to pay him. It would get him out of the house this summer, and make him very happy.

                    1. He’s technically mechanical, because UCCS doesn’t have aerospace as a major — so it’s his minor. But he’d take all (except chemical!) of them if he could. Mind he’s just finishing freshman year — but I’m serious about getting him out of the house, even if to carry coffee and count paperclips. He’d love it.

                    2. An engineering firm would be best, but do you have a local small airport? A friend of mine (who is now a NASA rocket engineer) grew up hanging around a little local airport (she was an Odd in a small town, it was her haven). Not quite engineers, but plenty of mechanics.

                    3. Yea – CAP Civil Air Patrol– a lot of interesting things happening there and if he does well they even give scholarships. Most of them go to youth going into the AF or other air type military. But– it is a good place to be mechanical and they even have ground to plane radios. It might cost money though– not sure.

                    4. I’ve been looking for work in the area, and I know that Lockheed-Martin, Harris, Rayetheon and other local defense contractors have been advertising for summer engineering interns on their career sites.

                    1. Oh gawd, the boys would have too much fun doing a summer internship in Roswell. Clan Hoyt meets Alien Conspiracy believers? The NM state mental health clinic system would never recover. But there’s be plenty of fodder for BuboniCon stories.

                    2. Rockwell Int’l at Downey Calif. Space Shuttle Operations Group. I was pretty useless. I think the purpose of my internship was to burn NASA appropriations as Rockwell Int’l was a cost-plus contractor.

                  1. The Feds in their infinite wisdom have forbidden the practice of unpaid internships (except for Congress itself of course) so no company with any government contracts would touch such a sensible and fair minded arrangement.

                    1. Question: is this something they try to require in general, or is it just a requirement for contractors and government agencies?

                      If I have an engineering graduate who can’t easily find work without relocating, for whom relocating is of dubious feasibility, what is the best option.

                      Try the unpaid thing for engineering work with a large place with private customers, trying with a small place, or does it pose too much professional reputation problems to bother with?

                    2. I was going to comment that engineers always get paid summer internships…then realized my data was older than son in question…. Still–there might be some con-related contacts that could be helpful? (Thinking of Uncle Timmy & company)

                    3. Possibly — the thing is he’s just finishing freshman (rising sophmore) and most people want Juniors or rising Juniors. (Mind you he did dual college in highschool with engineering, so…)

                    4. The problem was that too many companies were abusing the practice and having too many unpaid interns doing their work for so long that it was only an option for those who had families who could support them and was preventing other qualified people from obtaining much needed employment. Naturally, the government being the government, they adjusted with a sledgehammer, rather than a tack hammer.

                    5. It is a general thing, though if the employer can show it is part of a bona fide eductaional program (with a bucha caveats, like the position can’t displace an actual employee and such) ther are some positions open. Of course, the USDoL, being the caring agency that it is, comes down on any infraction with massive fines and penalties – and they tend to make up their own criteriae.

              1. LOVED that story/movie! ;-D
                We have a 16mm projector and when we lived in Iowa they had a State film library… ooooohhhh my GOODNESS! The Goodies we checked out!

      1. I am just now caffeinating, myself. And then must prepare for the movers to come and take all our stuff tomorrow. If there’s a thing that stresses me more than allowing complete strangers to take total control of my life (in stuff, at least) I have not found it. I presume allowing complete strangers editorial control over my writing would do it, but I haven’t gone there, and hope to not. I’short: I tease, ’tis all.

        1. Ehgad. I prefer moving to having no control over what my book comes out like. I’m just going over The Musketeer’s Seamstress. For file formatting reasons, I looked at it in my final delivered form first, and I’m now looking at the edited form. The edited form makes sentences bizarrely twisted. Yes, I should have caught it on page proof, but I was writing six books and homeschooling the genius, so…

          1. Indeed. I liken the one to the other, but only because I don’t know the other. I have enough trouble sending my drafts to friends who I know want to read them. Then I stress over the as-yet-unreceived feedback. It’s fun!

        2. Good luck Dave– I would have suggested we meet (hubby would come of course), but I have had problems after problems. So if we don’t see each other– I hope you enjoy the move. Of course you do have a few weeks before you move? right?

          1. Heh. It’s a Navy move, Cyn. Packers come tomorrow/Thurs to pack up our stuff and ship it off. The POV is already in a container somewhere, the bike (our intended conveyance from San Diego -> Maryland) is in the shop for a bum starter (maybe? hopefully something that simple) and we need to ship all Mrs. Dave’s uniforms, and whatever we need to survive until the Household Goods show up. Oh yeah: shipping the currently non-functional Valkyrie is already paid for. And the house looks like a pit. Also, I haven’t written anything in two days, and it’s eating at me. To be fair, it sounds far worse than it is. Stuff is stuff (even the books, yes. though my cookware doesn’t count, I’d argue: ’tis IMPOARTANT) and if it all goes kablooie somewheres, we get a big chunk of change to replace everything. It’s the scheduling of it all that picks at my mind. And that I have next to no control over any of it.

            1. Yea– I have done two or three maybe? Navy moves. They were only for a single person so it wasn’t as bad as packing an entire house. So good luck with that. 😉

            2. My deepest apologies sir, but the combination of motorbike, with its primary point of contact, and bum starter inspired in me a pun so low even I dast not write it. Instead, I leave you imagining the worst.

            3. Maryland? You’ll be within a long cooee of me – I’m in south east Pennsylvania. I’ll also be at the Discworld convention in Baltimore mid-year if you’re considering it.

              1. ‘Scuse… but are you the Aussie who was having trouble a while back getting your paperwork through to get “status” in the US? (On a certain newsgroup?

                1. Yep, that was me. Still is me… I really need to start the citizenship roundabout now.

                1. Discworld con is always fun – I’ve been to all of the US ones (both of them). Pterry Hisownself is scheduled to be there.

                  One of the highlights of the last one was sitting in the lobby in the chair next to where he was talking with his agent. I didn’t say a word, since it was before the con officially started and he wasn’t being “on”, but I was happy to just be there.

            4. Jean and I moved sixteen times in my Air Force career, four of them to overseas locations (all four to Europe!). The last was the worst — I wasn’t there to pre-pack and get things organized. We lost a TON of stuff not shipped, and got a ton of c@#$ we didn’t need and would normally have thrown away. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

          2. As far as meeting up, (assuming the bike gets fixed, shipped this weekend, and nothing else happens [HAH!]) we should be heading up the 395 from LA in a couple of weeks. Y’know, theoretically.

            1. Yea– I think we might be going to Fallon to get groceries from the Commissary– it is worth it for the coffee and the Olive oil. 😉 Depending on back and headache issues.

  7. I’m not sure there’s anything you can do about this, if fandom up there works like fandom in Austin. There’s very much a clique-ish thing going on, and once the hive-mind has decided you’re in, you’re in. And once they’ve decided you’re out, you’re out.

    Which is awesome if you know how the hive-mind works and can manipulate it. Me, I haven’t got a clue.

    I do know that being published by Baen is considered barely a step above being self-published. And that self-publishing is considered “a mistake” but the only reason they can give anymore is that such behavior is “not respected.”

    Best of luck to you in the coming con season, and here’s hoping we run into each other at WorldCon in San Antonio.

    – Brian

    1. Perhaps we can have a meeting of Hoyt’s Horde (or whatever this group is) at LoneStarCon?

      1. I’d enjoy that. There’s a distinct possibility that Mrs. Dave and I will have a suite available with a kitchen. I can’t promise it (other folks sharing said accommodations) but it’s a real possibility.

    2. It’s Denver. I made the mistake of talking with my oldest daughter about cons this Sunday as we met at my younger daughter’s house for Easter dinner. She’s into polymer clay sculpting, and usually buys a table or booth at these to sell her wares. Apparently the two Springs cons took most of what she had, and she needed to replenish her inventory, and skipped it (that, and table rates apparently were a bit steep…). Anyway, we discussed my attending one. She filled me in on a lot of the ins and outs of con attendance. I may pass.

      As for this particular con, what can I say other than “it’s Denver”. Denver used to be a really pleasant place where both sides could gather, and no one would get offended. Since I left in 1980, it’s moved VASTLY far left. I no longer feel comfortable up there. A few of my old friends from there tell me they feel the same way, and would LOVE to move, but can’t because of whatever. I don’t even go up for ROMPEX any more.

      I’m sorry it wasn’t a more enjoyable occasion for you, Sarah, but I definitely understand why, and how it got that way. I will try to buy your Shakespeare series on ebook. I will DEFINITELY buy GTAC and Noah’s Boy on ebook, as soon as we can get out from under the plumbing bills from the last two weekends!

      1. We have washer repairs, so, yeah (Yes, our washer is a permanent issue, because we do on average 11 loads a week, but sometimes up to 14 if the cats go on a rampage.) I understand.
        Denver has areas. We have a lot of conservative friends up there — but generally not in fandom.

        As for your sister, if she gets a table — I don’t have stock (yet) but I’m getting back into crochet, and I have patterns for SF/F hanging (griffins, castles, rockets.) If/when I have enough stock I might want to talk about her maybe taking stuff and charging a percentage?

        1. Actually, it’s daughter, not sister. I never had a sister. 8^(

          Cyn, I have a few cross-stitch patterns I’ll send to you if you want them, and have a way of printing them out. Right now, my printer is down. I need to get my tax forms in so I can get my printer repaired, but I can’t print them out and send them in until I get my printer repaired. 8^) I’ll see what I can do.

            1. If I can figure out how to convert it to PDF, I did a dragon pattern a while ago I could email you if you want it.

          1. If you’re not worried about the files getting pirated and your information stolen (I don’t really know the likelihood of this), you should be able to save the forms as PDF and take them to an office supply store (Many Staples, OfficeMax, and FedEx/Kinko’s) and have them printed.

      2. There is a reason, particularly female sf writers have moved left. I used to read almost all of them and enjoy all of them (to a level of “enjoy”) but recently — like the last ten years — I seem to have dropped them on by one because of either overt and ridiculous left wing politics, or insane androphobia.
        BUT it’s undeniably what’s rewarded. That’s what the ACTIVE (as opposed, to say the people who buy Baen and don’t go to cons) fans reward, give awards to and rally around. There is a “Young communists” group that are “the cool kids” (Young is debatable, most of them are in their forties. Communist isn’t, even when they DON’T call themselves that) in publishing right now. This pretty much tells you everything you need to know.
        Younger son didn’t take part in con. He was late with his final project for engineering, so he was loitering around lobby and sitting areas with laptop. He heard one of the cool kids talk to her fans, and his comment (he’s so jaded) was “Yeah, right, her mission is to fight sexism and racism and all this. That’s why she writes. She probably should fight hubris and me-tooism while she’s at it.”

        1. I’ve noticed, not just with writers, but there’s a type of woman who’s about ten years older than me who was on the edge of the 60s-70s feminist movement and who had to put up with a lot of crap, which I respect, but who seems to still be fighting those old battles, who is still angry about old injustices, and can’t move past it. Most can and have, but the ones who can’t, there’s something broken in there.

          It’s kind of like the whole feminist movement – in the 70s, when it was just about women being able to pursue the same goals as men if they wished, that battle was won in the late 70s. The sane women got on with their lives. The ones who didn’t, the ones who stayed on as activists, those are the sick ones, the dysfunctional ones, the ones who blame the world for their own failings.

            1. Oh, but it’s FUN to take up a CAUSE! And go after BAD GUYS (even if you have to make them up).

              “Tilting at windmills” took on a whole different meaning for me when I realized it meant some poor innocent miller was going to find his livelihood destroyed.

              1. as mother of boys, the hatred of males disturbs me probably more, but at any rate, being called powerful and evil while you’re just struggling is… argh.

              2. For whatever reason the mind today is drawing parallels. In this instance, it is connecting such feminist warriors to the Japanese soldiers still being found hiding on islands well into the Sixties.

            2. The sexism they’re fighting is coded in the genes. Things like T levels generating more dense musculature and balancing the risk/reward scales towards more risky behavior.

              1. Nah, they’re fighting the sexism that is “I’m having lots of sex with men and/or women who don’t really love me and find lots of ways to use my time and money for their own benefit, and yet for some reason I’m unhappy. It must be the sexism of the world, because it couldn’t possibly be me or my own deeds.”

                1. Sadly that is what many are really doing just that. It goes right along with the ongoing search on how to have your cake, eat all you want of it and stay skinny, too.

                  1. really doing — just that

                    Why is it that such things jump out at you just after you have clicked the post comment button?

          1. Without their “cause” they have no life, no future. They are empty husks, hollowed out people. But then they were that before they found their cause, and so have nothing to go back to – which is why they can’t leave their crusade.

            Some of us have lives, personalities, goals (even if murky and undefined)… so if we get involved in a ’cause” it remains a cause. It’s something we are involved in – it is not us. And when the cause dies, we are not left stranded on a beach like a dry minnow abandoned not just by the sea, but abandoned by even the birds who look for such to snack on.

            I do not pity such people. Nor do I scorn them. I just walk around them and go on my way, leaving them and their emptiness.

        2. You know… I dropped all the female sf writers except Bujold. Then I found you and Kris Rusch. Now I am for certain (a small group) of female sf writers.

          1. Oh. I still read Kris. I always preferred her shorts, though. This is not disparagement, it’s a writer’s thing. She uses more craft in her shorts. (Perhaps because, like me, she’s a natural novelist. I think.)

            1. Yea– her shorts are beyond fabulous. I am actually hooked on her Retriever series. My style. BTW finished all the MHI books from Larry C. and finding the Grimnoir a little harder going.

                1. To see her shorts (i.e. clothing) you would have a fist-fight with Dean W. Smith. lol As for her fiction shorts, you can find them under Kristine Katherine Rusch. (hope I spelled her name right). Sorry Sarah for promoting Kris on your blog– 😉

                    1. Yea– she has a Free Short Monday or something like that– well it is rude to promote other people on your blog. lol *whistling… walking away slowly cause if I go faster my hip drop me to the ground. 😉

        3. And that’s the reason I’ve stopped reading most female f/sf writers in the last 10 years, too. I just got tired of being more irritated than entertained by the books I read.

          I don’t know if it’s exclusively a Denver thing but I’ve had a harder time actually caring about cons lately. Maybe it’s because I saw one of my former writing professors as a guest (she’s written 1 book) and I knew what the whole thing was going to be like. I spent 3 years fighting with that woman, I wasn’t going to spend my leisure time fighting with her, too.

          Although, as I think about it, I’m kinda bummed I missed Anomalycon. Maybe I should volunteer to help next year. I’m pretty sure I know most of the people who run it.

          1. Get in programming. That way you can tell me what panels are supposed to be. Also, having a grand unified schedule would help. SPQR presented a program and we had to ask THREE PEOPLE before we found it.

            1. The time to think about panels is BEFORE the organizers get together to set them… In a couple of cons I went to, as a writer I not only got in free, but I got to pick from the suggested panels, or suggest one not listed. I saw more than one “panel” with only one author holding sway…

              1. The Spouse says you can’t fix what you don’t know is wrong. Polite feedback might help them improve, that is if they really want to improve.

                There will be the occasional unexpected occurrences which will force changes. For example, someone throws-up in one of the rooms and you have to move the scheduled panels elsewhere until the room can be cleaned. How these things are handled by the staff will tell you a great deal about how professional the con is.

                It might be said that one advantage of the plethora of small to mid-sized cons in the east and the south east is that it encourages the planners to improve the con experience, including scheduling, for everyone involved. There are weekends where you can choose which con to go to. If a particular con consistently blows it, the featured guests, the dealers and the attendees will start to go elsewhere.

          1. Utterly confused horror, a proper Lefty Feminist couldn’t comprehend that someone could be pro self-defense, anti-Christian, acknowledge that men and women are physically different, AND not believe that men are superior to women. I mean those thing are just mutually exclusive.

        4. Possible hijack topic here, but does this thing with the young author ladies connect somehow with all the young women heroines that we see in TV/Movies … it seems rare to find a male hero, unless he’s played by Bruce Willis … and everyone else is female … ?? Like boys can’t be heroes any more? Like they’re the Mac guy in the Bruce Willis movie instead of the male Katniss … or else they’re just thugs, never heroes … can you even believe I just wrote that? Having a teen son, this concerns me and has me wondering … ??

  8. Thanks for this one – I love industry insider stuff.

    As for the class system in publishing – Yes. I may not be published myself, but I have a friend who began publishing short stories in the 80s, and I’ve seen her make some questionable choices, like dropping friends because they weren’t cool enough or developing sneering attitudes about those who weren’t in the “right” crowd. She was young, she was desperate, a small town girl who hadn’t fit in, she’d fashioned her whole life on being published. I didn’t do that kind of crap in high school; I sure not going to as an adult.

    But it’s all part of that “granted status” by the gate-keepers that means people are still reluctant to self-publish. When success has so many artificial elements (as in academia), appearances become far too important. (I confess, it’s a hard for me to see you as looking unprofessional, you certainly have the right voice for it. I get mistaken for a published author all the time at cons – being “of a certain age” helps, but I find a nice fitted jacket does wonders. ^_^)

    Are you going to WorldCon in San Antonio this year? It’s run by the ArmadilloCon crowd, and yes, they lean very left wing (they’re from Austin, after all), but, on the other hand, they revere Elizabeth Moon, and she’s kind of the original Baen author (and if you can hold of her, she’s wonderful at offering advice, really nice lady). And the ArmadilloCon people have always been very supportive of mid-list authors.

    1. I’d love to go — but money is… er. As for Elizabeth Moon — E.M and I fight whenever we meet. Or rather, she fights with ME. This started online before we met in person. I’m not absolutely sure why, except I seem to puncture ALL her ideas of how writers (or at least women writers) should be and I like Heinlein and don’t think he’s sexist.

      The first fight I remember, she informed me I was raising my younger son all wrong — this despite knowing cold stone nothing about the kid and his special issues. (And yes, I know her son has issues, and I think she was working from that. It was still a little insane.) I suspect a lot of it is political. If I said the sky was blue, she’d say it was pink.

      So, I very much doubt there will be help from that quarter 😉

      C’est la vie, right?

      1. Sad sigh – yes, I can actually believe that. She has buttons, and issues, and I just back off when I encounter one – not so easy to do on-line, though. Too bad – because I think you’d have liked each other, otherwise.

        1. Well, I wasn’t even given a choice to back-off. I was called a child abuser (which is SO bizarre, as you’d know if you met us) because I was trying to make kid functional. Now, if child were autistic or even aspergers, it would be different, but he ONLY has the sensory issues associated with the condition, so yes, he could (and was) trained past the issues. I mean, yeah, okay, he works twice as hard as normal kids. But he’s a B+ or A (depending on teacher) student in college, and there’s every hope he’ll be able to use his talent for engineering someday and be a fully functioning normal adult. After that wherever I posted, honestly, even if I said “Hey, look, it’s raining” I’d be jumped. So, blah. (The only other time I had this happen was when I met my boss when I taught at community college YEARS ago, and there it was mutual. We looked at each other and hated each other, NO reason. Part of the reason I didn’t stay on, though offered a position.)

            1. I wouldn’t presume to judge any mother dealing with a disabled child. It — at least for me it did — comes out of nowhere and it whomps you upside the head. We did what we thought was best for Marshall, given his genius-level talent for engineering and his wish to use it. Had he been more severely disabled, we might have coped differently. Who knows? Truly, unless you’ve been there you can’t know, not even with other people in similar situations. I’m opinionated, but I wouldn’t presume to judge her choices.

          1. Child Abuser?!! Yeah, them’s fighting words (and you’re right, I know her son, and the whole battle with him, but that’s not an excuse and she should know better!)

            Another very heavy sigh (of sympathy for you) – I knew her better in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and haven’t seen very much of her for the past decade. We say Hi at ArmadilloCon if we come across each other (and she knows my politics – and when I knew her, she was more centerist, anyway). I’ve had the feeling she’s changed, and you’re confirming it (I think the internet and blogging, and she’s a fighter, no question, that may have contributed).

            (I’m starting to get some mischievous thoughts here, on how I might mention I’m a fan of yours to her *innocent angel halo* – not that I’m so likely to get an opportunity these days, I’ve never been more than an acquaintance of hers. And I guess if Toni Weisskopf couldn’t mediate between you two, I certainly don’t have much chance.)

      2. I really like all of Elizabeth Moon’s books (her Vatta Wars series was the best) and she is who first introduced me to Baen, and who really got me into SF, and particularly mil-sf. Her politics, not so much, and at times they make me wonder if she has multiple personality disorders. I haven’t paid attention to anything she has said in a long time, but from what I remember she used to make a lot of statements on her beliefs that were mutually exclusive of each other. Fortunately her politics tend to take a fairly light hand in her fiction, and several of her books I have came away with the thought that they portray and promote the exact opposite of what she states her beliefs are, which leads back to the multiple personality thing, and wondering whether her subconscious mind disagrees with her conscious mind.

      3. My mom knows a few women that she just does not like. Guys, it’s more justifiable reactions to something, but some women are just HATE ON SIGHT. (She recognizes it and corrects for it, but I’d guess some women don’t, or can’t.)

        1. you know, I even understand this in person — When Rebecca Lickiss and I ran our writers’ group, we always knew when an alpha female joined, because she’d try to unseat us, and usually leave in three sessions. (We? We kept our truce by strictly divided duties. When that collapsed, so did the group.)

          BUT what can trigger this online? I rather suspect it was someone who’d said something. I found with another left-leaning female author who while not yelling at me will go out of her way to avoid me that someone or something had identified me to her as a “libertarian writer chickie.” The “Twenty something” she added which, since I was then over 40, means I can’t resent her.

          1. I have found in online discussions that there seem to be a few people who, no matter how carefully I construct a statement, will manage to construe it in the worst possible way. While I would like to deem such persons qualified for the technical term which starts with “a” and ends in “holes” careful observation of their exchanges with others indicates that they are perfectly capable of reasoned discourse with people who are like me but not me (few though such persons be.)

            I have also noticed that there seem to be a few folks to whose comments I seem to have to smooth down the fur on the back of my neck. And as is widely recognized, I am amongst the most amiable and amenable of people. Thus I am forced to conclude that there are some folks online whose scent just triggers defensive reaction in me, and some who think that I stink.

            1. It is worse in person, but some people can just rub you the wrong way, without ever saying anything truly objectionable. (and yes Foxfier this is much more common in women, but does happen in men also, especially in person)

              1. It’s getting more common as guys get more passive-aggressive; if only it was less common in the “feminist” women.

          2. When I walk into a room, very few women will talk to me. It changed a little after I became ill. My mother and I cannot be in the same room. We have enough of a truce that we can talk on the phone. I like talking to alpha women actually. They usually have more interesting lives (or inner lives).

    2. And the hostility TRULY is inexplicable unless she heard something horrible about me before we met online and/or you believe we met in a past life and I shot her puppy. It was one of those things.

      1. Ah– there have been people like that who hated me before I opened my mouth. I had no clue. 😉 Oh well, I have a hubby who has to love me lol

      2. Being politically center is enough to get in trouble with some folks… but with some God help anyone who’s right of radical Left!!!

        Oh… and Kansas City is VERY cliquish too… I’d fill you in on some of the details, but I doubt you really want to know… (I went to KC for several years running, and was published, but they still wouldn’t give me a blue “author’s” badge.)

    3. “WorldCon in San Antonio this year? It’s run by the ArmadilloCon crowd, and yes, they lean very left wing ”
      “they revere Elizabeth Moon”

      Thanks for the warnings. Guess I won’t be going to WorldCon again… The last one I went to was TorCon (in Toronto) and in passing I told Larry Niven that his Moties with their solar sails were a singular inspiration for my “Riggers”. Ended up with me, my young teen son, and Mr Niven discussing science and other things in his room for a couple of hours and getting his “John Henry” on a few HC books of his.

      1. Well, with the number of Texans who’ll be attending, they can’t get away with being THAT left-wing

  9. Oh wow– if you think you are bad at promotion 😉 look at my promotion — a little twitter, some fb– about it.

    Chin up– I think you are a really good writer and my hubby is finally finishing Darkship Thieves and is asking for the next book. Since he quit reading sci-fi/fantasy about the time we left Panama 1997– and used to be an avid fan– I’ll let you figure out what we think of you. 😉

  10. Sarah, well, you already know this fan-girl’s opinion of you. And I’ll be your fan even if you did stop writing tomorrow (please don’t. For one thing, the other fans of yours are liable to create zombie-Sarah in an effort to keep you going. Now, that’s frightening) and there are a lot of us Hoyt’s Huns (really? is that our club name, guys?) out there. I blogged on marketing yesterday, and how I think, based on over a decade in my other line of work, the only stable form for writers right now, until this tsunami that is looming over us finishes falling and sucking back out to sea and recreating the landscape… where was I? Good Heavens, homework has addled my brain. Oh, yes, Word Of Mouth. It’s the best way, for the time, to reliably spread your fan base. We all have mouths, some of us bigger than others (I heard that snigger. Shush) and some of us have blogs. Might be time for us to blow your horn a bit. And other authors we like, too, because if we chain you to your desk you still couldn’t write fast enough to satisfy the appetite for books I have seen around here.

    1. You can’t chain me to desk. Part of reason I’m sleepy (and maudlin) today is that D’Artagnan decided he hadn’t been sufficiently petted due to our being away this weekend, so he screamed, yelled and demanded pets all night, and when we locked him out of the room he knocked….

      1. Oh, yes… I have a cat due any day now, and she’s been like that for two weeks now. And I don’t want to chain you to your desk, anyway. Care and Feeding of Authors says they need fresh air and walks.

      2. Oh gads, yours does that too? Athena Felis learned that I can sleep through banging on the door so long as the banging is in rhythm. I can’t sleep through random pounding. The little {bad, bad, (and in this case anatomically impossible) word}

          1. Athena Felis has almost no voice. She’s probably part Main Coon (the quiet, sheddy part).

              1. We have one that meeps, barely audibly, it sounds like the most pathetic kitten and is impossible to ignore

                  1. Imp. Named Imperious Primo after the opening poem in Alice, Imperious Prima flashes forth her edit to begin it…. He was a birder, and once proudly brought us a full grown Blue Jay. Imp was a large house cat resembling a pure bred Maine Coon. He had almost no voice and meeped until the day he was involved in an incident that nearly cost him his leg.

                    Then he found a voice. It took me a while to figure it out how to describe it. It was a roar, only house cat sized. During his recovery he took up perching on the back of our sofa looking out a picture window and roaring at the squirrels that were outside.

            1. I’ve never met a quiet Maine Coon cat. They usually have a repertoire that would shame a calliope and can be heard from just about as far away. With rhetorical flourishes and comments for anyone who might be within earshot.

              1. Athena has the body shape and coat of a Maine Coon, but is “only” 11 pounds. She can be loud if she is in physical pain. That’s the only time. She usually hisses, chirps, trills, and pounds. She had a difficult kittenhood, and may have decided that loud cat = dead cat.

      3. Mine has a lot of vocalizations, and evidently each of them means something to my d*mn cat. Like “Food bowls empty” or “Timmy is stuck in the well”.

        I’ve gotten to naming her “Cranky Ol’ Lady Cat”.

  11. I have read Darkship Thieves, or Darkship Renegades, A Few Good Men and May You Write Interesting Books, and I just discovered you. I liked them all, you are a good writer.

      1. (I think she was saying that she’s read one or the other – but is temporarily not sure of which title has been read and which not. I’m that way with titles too… love a book, what’s the title? Dunno…)

        1. There was this cozy mystery book I read, set in WWI France — mystery. I liked it, and planned to find the author again. Can’t remember title. Can’t remember author. Have bought a lot of cr*p set in that time period trying to find it.

          It was before ebooks, so it’s possible the author got “killed” after one book and is not online. It’s… frustrating. I read it just before moving, which means the book got lost in move. Sigh.

          1. I have the same issue– except I blame chemo lol. Anyway there was an author with first name Chris who wrote paranormal mysteries in the early nineties. It was a team that went around and solved supernatural problems mostly contemporary. I forgot the last name and have been looking at writers with that first name and haven’t found him ever again. *sigh I really enjoyed those books. Of course I found that some writers I enjoyed in my early twenties are not as fun when I go back to read them at 50.

                1. I have been told squirrel is tasty, but never heard that it had hallucinogenic properties.

                  1. Tough to keep lit, though.

                    (Aside: Hmmm – new college minor – Squirrel Lit.?)

                  2. Someone posted a picture the other day: Bacon-wrapped squirrel with sriracha sauce.

                1. NOTHING — NOTHING beats accidentally snorting broccoli. AND TRUST ME ON THIS there’s this horrible thought “I’m going to die of broccoli and I don’t like it THAT much” that makes things worse.

                    1. Well, my brother used to say that it was like a tent pitched in the desert of my face, and that all people ever saw of me was my nose… BUT the broccoli was finely chewed when the idiot child made me laugh and snort.

                    1. Marshall shocked me into uncontrollable laughter when I was about ready to swallow broccoli. It was like when coffee goes up your nose, only more so. Then it went down and blocked there too. It’s funny now, but I thought I was going to die.

                    2. I would not reccomend bursting out laughing just as you swollow salty green olives; although, I will admit, once I had recovered my sinuses were quite entirely clear.

  12. Huh. For the past 15 years, out of all the Sci-fi I’ve read, probably 80% of it is Baen. When I go to the library, I usually don’t even bother looking if it doesn’t have that distinctive wording style on the spine. Books, covers, etc… but I’m never let down.

    Maybe I’m doing it wrong?

    1. I had similar issues — was almost completely unable to read any SF after having been a consumer so rabid I was ordering direct from publishers at one point. Got back into it through reading Baen (well, actually, John Ringo had a regular NY Post column that I enjoyed sufficiently to sample his SF, and from there to Baen.)

  13. Ummmmmm, is there any way we could skip the editing part and procure copies of some/all of that stuff in the trunk for our reading pleasure in return for some sort of donation or something? Not that I don’t understand the power of good editing or anything, but if Witchfinder is anything to judge by the draft stuff should still be a ton of fun to read and my inner reader just wants me to yell FEED ME until it’s got something new into which it can sink its insatiable fangs… ^_^

    1. Jerry Pournelle suggested I put up a subscribe button and offer graduated benefits. One of them COULD be access to stuff I’m editing. Though the one I’m filing serial numbers from (it was started as a collboration and meant to be in another author’s universe) can’t be seen till I finish. Other than that… well… Witchfinder is pre-first-draft. My first drafts are cleaner when I’m not doing them once a week! Honest.

      I couldn’t let you see Baen stuff, but you could see shorts, and stuff that’s pre-editing but finished — probably would work out to a story a month and a novel every other month…

      1. So, this potential subscription that includes access to pre-editing stuff (Horror, Fantasy, SF, &c.) that you could allow to be seen. The price might be…?

          1. Sweet. I totally won’t donate $35 to guilt you into getting that started, I promise!

            Not for at least a couple of weeks…

              1. You trying to say not to worry about the whole “guilting you into doing the subscription” thing? ‘Cause I have no problem getting this party started! 😉

                  1. It looks like there’s a shiny new subscribe button up there. Hooray! I thought it might be one of those things that took you some time to get going-please excuse my awkward attempts at humor.

                    1. Oh, it took time. Look at the update on post. I’ve been at this since five. I’ll fight the rest of the site later.
                      You know, here’s the thing — wordpress is hosted on the wordpress site, so it won’t let me — it did last year — put up a paypal button. SO I had to put that up on goldportpress’s site which is linked through MY own server. Then link it as an image. The solution is byzantine but elegant (I think) but it took hours of cursing. I must have been screaming, because my throat hurts. And my husband is hiding in the movie room…

                    2. Yeah I knew it would and I didn’t want to put any pressure on you or anything… *innocent look*

                      I was actually typing something out about different ways to beat on WordPress blogs but then I realized the button was already there and just celebrated instead and decided to think about what level I liked best in the morning. And on that note, what the heck is tuckerization?

                    3. Tuckerization
                      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
                      Tuckerization is the act of using a person’s name in an original story as an in-joke. The term is derived from Wilson Tucker, a pioneering American science fiction writer, fan and fanzine editor, who made a practice of using his friends’ names for minor characters in his stories. For example, Harry Harrison’s To the Stars character: “Old Lundwall, who commands the Sverige, should have retired a decade ago, but he is still the best there is.” Sam J Lundwall is a well-known Swedish science fiction publisher and writer, as well as the godfather of Harrison’s daughter. A tuckerization can also be the use of a person’s character or personal attributes with a new name as an in-joke, such as Ian Arnstein in S.M. Stirling’s Island in the Sea of Time trilogy, clearly modeled on his good friend Harry Turtledove, albeit an alternate history Turtledove.

                      Many science fiction authors auction off tuckerizations at science fiction conventions with the proceeds going to charity.
                      [MORE: ]

                      Red-shirting is a specialized sub-category of Tuckerization, which Star Trek: Original Series fans will readily grasp.

                    4. Thanks RES! That’s what I get for thinking that I’d learned ALL the fancy author-type lingo from TV Tropes…

                1. Oh, yeah, I’m considering a Hoyt’s Huns t-shirts for crazy people with the top flight subscription. (Yes, I do have the occasional — and man are you appreciated, particularly the one of you who insists on using a double blind email, and whom I CAN’T thank personally — crazy person who throws $100 in the kitty every so often.)

                2. I appreciate the ones who give $2, too. And I worry that some people I know are as tight as I am are throwing money in. (But then we do too, to other bloggers/authors.)

          2. $35 per what? Annum? Quarter? Month? Hour?

            Yes, we all know what I am and are merely haggling over price.

                1. Well, there would be bonuses for more … kind of like what Chris Muir does with DBD…

                  Part of it is stopping worrying about money long enough to implement fund raising, you know?

                  1. Classic trap of the person at buffet with an item in each hand — no shortage of provender but no ability to transfer it to mouth.

                    1. actually I can do it if someone can tell me how to Upload the paid-memberships-pro directory to the /wp-content/plugins/ directory of your site. I.e. I can’t FIND the wp-content/plugins, period.

              1. Try $4 a month, $10 per quarter, $35 a year set it up. Don’t dawdle. There are people waiting to give you money.

  14. Part of it is, undeniably the accent. Yeah, yeah, I know, and I’m not claiming “discrimination” but we all judge each other that way, and I sometimes feel no matter what I say after I open my mouth, people hear “foreign born, self published.”

    You really think so? Now I’ve remarked on your accent, as you know, but I do so because I find it endearing and because it is amusingly at conflict with my “mind’s voice” when reading your work. Not because it causes me to think of you in any stereotypical way.

    As for having a post convention maudlin reaction, I don’t want to sound too much like the flaming ass that I am, because I was appreciative of the opportunity I got there too, but that wasn’t a good example of a con, even a “local con”.

    1. “You really think so?”

      Sarah, like my wife, turns self-deprecation into a form of High Art. Which is probably (I’m guessing, here, since I only know her online and to my knowledge the set of cons we’ve both been to, even in different years, is null) part of the reason that some folks at cons perceive her as a failure. (I’m _assuming_, here, that folks at cons actually do perceive her as a failure. I wouldn’t rule out the notion that that too is more of her own pessimism than actual objective reality…but like I said, I have no evidence.)

      Self-deprecation is an OK marketing strategy for somebody who’s already obviously on or near the top of the world. For those who are anywhere else, it’s probably a mistake.

      And of course, the very notion that one’s externally-visible personality is anything other than a crafted marketing strategy is utterly anathema to modern Americans. Even, sadly, fen.

    2. Accent matters much to superficial people. Consider what Doc Taylor would confront if not for his undeniably impressive CV. The most self-professedly tolerant people in the world cannot respect the Southern accent, no matter how they try.

      1. People who respect themselves and where they come from — they don’t disrespect anybody’s accent.

        Anxious people — they worry about accent.

  15. I think it would be a good idea to offer subscriptions with graduated content. I did break down and pay for the Pournelle top level, and found it worth while. You are a more prolific blogger and writer than him, so I’d guess it would be an even better buy. And you are eminently readable.

  16. There may be another contributing factor here, what I call the Pro from Dover Effect (after a line from MASH the movie). Someone from outside and far away is often seen as more credible than someone from within or nearby. Sometimes I would offer clients the exact same guidance their own employees had advised; but because I was the Pro from Dover, they listened to me.

    1. The “Pro from Dover” effect was expounded on even more in the novels, which fall into the “quite enjoyable quick read” category, at least the first few … after that they became factory product: individually enjoyable, but en masses they left a flat taste in the mind.

    2. I didn’t read this post til just now, last couple of days have been hectic. I was browsing the comments looking for this one. I heartily agree that the pro from Dover effect is probably heavily in effect here. After all her reading and other activities were well attended at Liberty

  17. Local cons always leave me a little maudlin, a little depressed, wondering if something is wrong with me that can’t be fixed.

    Easy to fix. Move. As with many an ADD kid where the problem isn’t the child, it is the environment the child is forced into, it seems your problem is with your local SMOF clique.

    File this in the “Advice I Don’t Need And Can’t Follow” folder.

  18. A couple side remarks:

    On the “failure” issue–at most of the cons I attend, fen don’t know/don’t care if you have three or twenty-three books under contract. What matters is whether you have something in their preferred sub genre and medium that they can score Right Now. Heck, half the reason I still go to cons is to get books. (Even scored a S Hoyt title.) Do we have enough books in our small ranch house already? Do not ask that question.

    Secondly, regarding the bizarre quality of panels: at this last CapriCon (Chicago area) they held a panel on e-publishing. The panelists did a valiant job. However: one had an indie book, her first, which was just about to release. One had two print indie books. The third was working on an e-book with a recognized small press. Where was the depth? Absent. They could’ve sent a call out to the membership and found e-pubbing veterans with more experience and loads more good advice. Heck, I had to correct some mis-data; me, from the audience, with 11e-books to my credit. I was gratified that the panelists were gracious.

    End of observations. Obrigada.

  19. The only thing wrong with the new world of publishing is that we haven’t figured out how to make money at it.

    And I really, really hate cons. I mean, I enjoy some of the panels, and meeting friends I rarely see outside of cons. But I don’t do crowds, I’m getting better at talking to strangers. Maybe I’ll graduate to being able to be a panelist. One of these years. But I mostly walk away in relief.

    Don’t sweat the Lefties, Sarah. Now we just need to figure out how to get you _and_ the Houston Brew Crew to World Con. Add in the rest of the contingent from the rest of the state, and we’ll show you how a convention full of fans feels.

    1. I am starting to make money and I’m sure it will improve with more stuff out (that REALLY seems to be the key) but the current situation makes me shaky. Give us another year or two, and we might be fine.

      1. “I’m sure it will improve with more stuff out”

        I just passed that advice on to a client this afternoon. One thing I have heard consistently from successful (ie making a living at it) self-pub authors is that authors with more books sell more of each book. For whatever reason, people buy more books from more prolific authors. Part of it is likely a matter of “Hey, that was really good! What else does he have available?”

        Now, for those trying to get all those wonderful books and shorts (no not those, I’m a married mollusc!) prepped and up on Amazon, I know this guy… *shifty eyes*

    2. “I’m getting better at talking to strangers”

      If you go to a con and I’m there, just don’t talk to me and you’ll be fine – ’cause I’ll be the strangest one there… NO ONE will be stranger!

      1. Ya wanna bet? I might not LOOK strange but once you open up the mind and take a look inside… People run screaming – before I threaten to redshirt with prejudice (or worse).

        1. Ya wanna bet? I might not LOOK strange but once you open up the mind and take a look inside…

          Interestingly enough, people say the same thing about me. “She seems so cute and normal… until you look through the keyhole into her BRAIN. Yikes!”

          1. I’ve been sitting in the local Waffle House, talking with friends, and had people nearby say, “I really hope I don’t ever make you angry.” Although, more often they say things like, “How can you talk about so many different things in one sitting? It makes my head hurt.”

            Good thing they don’t hear me describing some of the connections I make in my head to get to some of the places my conversations go.

            1. “I really hope I don’t ever make you angry.”

              I don’t think anybody has ever said something like that to me, probably because I am so amiable and amenable. I can only recall two occasions of my losing my temper in the last century. Once, in 1986, while visiting Chernobyl and the other time, while travelling in Time, during a 1908 tour of the Tunguska wilderness.

              1. You weren’t at Krakatoa with us that one time, were you? Ran into a party of dimension-hopping utopian statist historical revisionists, and things got … geological. Had to bug out post-haste and landed right in the middle of a scuffle in Kurukshetra. That wouldn’t have amounted to nearly as much as it did if they hadn’t followed us. It got messy.

                1. No, I have steered clear of Indonesia ever since that incident with the Temporal Screening Agency doofus when I stopped in for a cuppa joe at … well, now it is called Lake Toba, but it had a different name when I dropped by.

                  1. You know we felt that one across half a dozen dimensions and several thousand years, right? My bed skipped across the floor (so I’m old fashioned: null grav beds put knots in my neck like you wouldn’t believe) and the static portals got completely rearranged. It took a month subjective to get those sorted back out. And all for a cup of joe?

                    Wait, Temporal Screening Agency? Who- oh, dear. *ZAMPH!*

                  2. And I assume neither of you know anything about what happened to Mt. Mazama, do you? I had a nice hiking trip all planned, tea at the overlook on the peak, and maybe hunt some mountain sheep on the way down. Next thing you know “boom” there’s a smoking hole and the locals are talking about gods and jealous lovers and all sorts of things. *shakes head*

                    1. Mt. Mazama is still around. It’s just spread over 3 states. On the positive side you can fish for kokanee there, now.

              2. Heh. That kind of comment has been said after I was describing how I used to be very small for my age, and would spend time thinking about how to put maximum hurt on someone if I were ever in a fight, describing body parts and what I planned to do to them.

                1. I am reminded of a scene from Dan Wells’ I Am Not a Serial Killer where the unimposing, teenaged protagonist scares the bejeezus out of a bully simply by letting him see a little of his mind: he described exactly how he viewed the bully and what he would consider doing to him. Oh, sorry, the unimposing, teenaged, completely sociopathic protagonist. *evil grin*

        2. You know talk of opening up a mind and taking a look inside, by the author of Impaler brings to mind rather graphic images.

        3. Ooh… how to insult the Kate Monster and be redshirted to death. Wait – that was redundant, wasn’t it? 😉

          1. Get in line??? Heck, most the ones I know will bid for the chance to be red-shirted. They’re a bunch of real shirt-heads!

    3. Is it right that authors go to Cons to get exposure and sell books to the most involved fans – the ones that will go back to their areas and suggest your books to their friends?
      (I’ve never been to a con, I just read about them)

      1. It is THEORETICALLY the idea. In fact, though I wonder how well it works, now that fandom in general is older and therefore less inclined to decamp to cons.

  20. Well, at least you only have to deal with one Sarah Hoyt. There’s nothing like getting an email from a certain author wondering why I didn’t stop in to say hi to her or the family when it was the _other_ Jason Cordova who was in attendance. You know, the Cordova who teaches Cryptozoology at UCD (what the flying monkey is that, by the way? how do you teach cryptozoology at college? and people mock underwater basketweaving…) and somehow managed to create a mixup (I should remind him that I was first, so he’ll need to go get a new name or something.).

    I actually don’t like doing readings at cons, though for a reason similar to why you wonder about the new kids and never-been’s (okay, a harsh term, but I couldn’t think of what else to call someone who isn’t trying to be published). I really think that I’m too new and inexperienced to do a reading at a con (I did one at Libertycon 24, which went well I suppose, but I felt like a total fraud). When I have half a dozen books out, then I should be doing readings. Not before then. Just my opinion.

    1. Dude. If you can read, and if you have stuff written, you can do a reading. It will be better than most, and especially it will be better than academics reading their own poetry.

      If you’re too shy to do a reading, someone else can read for you.

    2. You really mean never-Baens, don’t you? 8^)

      Cryptozoology intrigued me, so I googled it. Here’s what Wikipedia (another phantom) says:
      Cryptozoology (from Greek κρυπτός, kryptos, “hidden” + zoology; literally, “study of hidden animals”) is a pseudoscience involving the search for animals whose existence has not been proven. This includes looking for living examples of animals that are considered extinct, such as dinosaurs; animals whose existence lacks physical evidence but which appear in myths, legends, or are reported, such as Bigfoot and Chupacabra;[1] and wild animals dramatically outside their normal geographic ranges, such as phantom cats (also known as Alien Big Cats).

      I can just SEE getting a PhD in that in California…

      1. … animals whose existence lacks physical evidence but which appear in myths, legends, or are reported …

        So, that would include honest politicians and [insert political affiliation of your choice] with integrity?

        1. If one granted homosap membership to politicians those would be something like cryptoanthropology, but the first is not necessarily a given, so point to you.

          And I’m not surprised this is in the CA college curriculum. I bet the cryptozooology department is in the same building as the astrology department.

      2. Yes. You can find ideas for fantasy and alien critters from the books, magazines and blogs which talk about that subject. People see weirdest things.

        And I do believes some actually see them, so the interesting question is what is going on, besides misidentifications. Since we don’t seem to actually ‘see’ what is around us, but rather something like a virtual display build from the data received and how our brain interprets it, and whatever internal inputs may happen to come in, I’d put at least some money on something like programming glitches of our brains. So, interesting, should be studied, but how it should be studied, and from what angles, is the question.

        1. And I do believes some actually see them, so the interesting question is what is going on, besides misidentifications …

          Back in my days as an anthropology student I imagined a fascinating sub-field could be developed on just that question, based on the observed fact that people using hallucinogens frequently reported remarkably similar visions. This was even true for people from outside the culture where the hallucinogenic drug originated.

          It might be something as simple as the drug altering the EM wavelengths perceived by our eye, making IR visible. Or, a la Lewis Padgett’s* Mimsy Were The Borogroves, it might be more profound.

          *Lewis Padgett was the pen name for joint work SF pioneers Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore.

          1. Like how folks who are traveling and are very tired will see either a big black cat or a dog with red eyes?
            (still one of the most terrifying trips of my life… driving from LA to basically death valley after Christmas, had to be there in six hours to get to work, and I saw the giant cat pacing my freaking car. It wasn’t that it seemed to be DOING anything, just… GIANT! CAT!)

            1. Umm– I had a big black dog walk me home once (when I lived in Kaysville near SLC). It was real. I touched it. The dog’s back came to my waist. But when I reached the door it walked away and then disappeared into the mist. Seriously– happened and it was NOT a dream.

              1. Black dogs and cats are classic. Read Walker Between Worlds and also The Mothman Prophecies. I don’t think their takes are right NECESSARILLY, but there is a phenomenon (Phenomeni, phenomenatrix = to quote Good Omens) which we haven’t figured out yet there.

                1. I talked to a friend about this experience who has studied some of this phenomenon (or ii –many). Most of the time the black dog is an omen for death. However there is a bloodline who has the black dog as a guardian. I have thought that I would add this element into one of my stories sometime.

                    1. YES. There’s a guy named Vali (Valie?) where’s my friend Charles when I need him — who wrote on this stuff. I read all of this over a summer and came to the conclusion ufos, fairies and strange animals were probably “real” in the sense they are all a physical pheonomenon. Not sure if related to the human brain, or outside it.

                      I could do a post on it, when I have time for a little research.

                      Yes, I do read very WEIRD things.

                    2. I’ve ordered it from Amazon and I found a Kindle version of Robert Kirk’s Secret Commonwealth (which I think Walker Between Worlds is based on).

                      Why do you think you read weird stuff? It sounds interesting to me. [Wink]

                    3. I just got the Robert Kirk’s one– ummm… I read some weird stuff too, not counting the weird stuff that has happened to me. 😉

                    4. Coast to Coast AM has been promoting a similar theory— the one their guests usually have is that all the Other Stuff is from a different dimension, and only sometimes comes here. (Which would basically be Elfland, come to think of it.)

                    5. You read WEIRD things? Like romances and Literachure and stuff? We’ve known that about you for a while now and accept you in spite of it. I have been known to read sports biographies, myself, so I hardly feel entitled to mock.

                    6. The RES Menace? I can live with that.

                      BTW – for sending messages into the realm of Faerie, writing on fairies is probably much more effective than writing on pigeons.

              2. I think people are pre-disposed to seeing or sensing big cats. They are the top predators when found and are one of the really bad news on the savannah where our hominid ancestors used to live. I suspect that seeing big cats that weren’t there was a far better survival strategy than not seeing big cats that were.

                1. FWIW– grew up in cougar areas, and the “feel” was quite different, and not in the same way that those annoying bugs that sound a little like rattlesnakes vs hearing a real rattlesnake. (even a recorded one)

                  If I had to try to explain it… the scary part was me going “that is a cat. With a body about eight foot long from shoulder to hip. Running at about sixty.” in contrast to the “gah gah gah PREDATOR gah gah gah!!!!!” type.

              3. Just a mention– I wasn’t tired, on drugs, or anything else. I was a real straight arrow then lol I didn’t even drink cola beverages or coffee. 😉

              4. This might sound odd, but I’m not sure that things folks see when they’re “seeing things” aren’t something, too.

                I know a couple of relatives have walked with the Big Black Protector Dog, and there are some areas in Scotland (maybe the whole UK?) where “he” is known to be around. The “Warning of Death” version has passed us by, thankfully.

                Of course, really not helped by how I’ve been seeing a lot more “things out of the corner of my eye” in the last several years, and did actually see some improvement after I blessed the windows and doors with holy water. (A much bigger improvement in that I’m not scared to death late at night about non-physical threats when I see it, now, so I know that the mental effect is non-negligible….)

                To quote a very smart old man that my mom remembers… he was asked if he believed in elves.
                “Ach, no!” *takes a drink, leans forward* “But I know they’re there.”

                1. Houses where writers live tend to become haunted. Seems to make no difference if the writers are believers or atheists. It does make a difference whether the writers are “by the numbers” or what Kate calls “gateway writers” who work straight from the seamy side of the mind, with little conscious input. I’ve often wondered if we were the “modern day” equivalent of Greek Poets channeling SOMETHING. It doesn’t make me comfortable, let me tell you.
                  And that story was told to me as the Spaniard waking up in the middle of the night saying “I don’t believe in ghosts, but they still exist.”

                  1. Given the stories of… what was her name, the elf that ate poets? Lianna Sidhe? (I think it’s something like “pale elf lady.”)

                    I’d get the creeps, too.

                    Thank God that our parish has a nice, big holy water dispenser.
                    Reminds me, I’m going to go get our palm crosses out of the car, from Palm Sunday.

                    Digressing: I’m playing with a modern fantasy where a lot of the really freaky old stuff doesn’t happen to folks anymore because Christianity works— so do some other blessings, and calling on spirits and ancestors, but Christianity really works well, and has been spread surprisingly wide.
                    (Characters, of course, have only theories on why this is so.)
                    It’s just an inversion of the standard “magic works” world, since that’s usually just mauled versions of other belief systems.

                  2. And that story was told to me as the Spaniard waking up in the middle of the night saying “I don’t believe in ghosts, but they still exist.”

                    I’m not sure the guy that she knew could read– he may have heard the same story, though.

                    Or it’s one of those very-true-because-it’s-human things?

                  3. “I don’t believe in ghosts, but they still exist.”

                    Of greater concern is whether ghosts believe in me.

                  4. I tend to be of the ‘human brains are buggy’ school of thought. I admit to having some evidence for that, but the real reason is a matter of faith.

                    Deciding to trust God’s oversight of such matters made an enormous psychological difference to me.

                  5. Well, she’s not a writer, but my niece says her youngest son plays with a “girl who looks just like Ariel” in his room all the time. When shown a picture of my mother when she was young, he said that was her (yes, she’s gone. She passed away a little over 3 years ago).

                    1. Now, the big problem I have with this is that I gave up believing in anything like that about 10 years ago, after wanting to find something for over 30 years.

                    2. My older kid hated going to the basement of our other house. “Anne always wants to talk. She doesn’t know anything, and she wants me to tell her stuff. All about computers and all.”
                      The house was an orphanage back in the nineteenth century, when burial was sometimes… informal.

                      As we were fixing a walkway before moving, we found, around a side of the house, what looked like a child size gravestone. The writing was faded, but it sure looked like “Anne.” Robert still remembers her. She wore a frumpy brown dress, and she always wanted to talk.

                  6. Re: Robert’s story about Anne –

                    You just reminded me of something I haven’t thought about in years. I have no memory of the event in question, having been about three or four at the time, but my parents have told the story several times with consistent details, so I’m sure it happened. Apparently I said, out loud, “God, why did–“. Then a pause, as if listening. Then, “Oh, I see.” And I got up and headed off to play.

                    I never did tell my parents what that was all about — and now I don’t remember. So what I heard when I stopped listened will remain a mystery to all concerned.

                    1. Typo. Last sentence should have had an “and” in it, as in “when I stopped and listened”.

                2. I agree– I just wanted to say that I touched the dog and it was not just my sight that was involved with seeing this dog. 😉 I see things out of the corner of my eyes too and hear things. I feel things when I go to places that have a lot of living (usually tragic deaths). Also, I have been scared when I thought something followed me home. Having a hubby who is not fey has really made me safer actually.

                  I do have a few rituals I do when the I get that feeling something is watching me. Otherwise, I learned a long time ago to be very careful of certain rituals. For instance, imagining a bright light around you to keep you protected is just another way to make you visible in the other realm. lol– and it makes you look yummy. 😉

                  1. St. Patrick’s Breastplate– the whole “Christ before me, Christ behind me” thing works wonders for me. Especially since singing is doing something. And He’s stronger than me. ^.^

                    1. I now feel the urge to reread the adventures of Curdy and The Princess*.

                      Phrased that way because if I used the more proper order of their names you might think I was skipping the first book. Does anyone else recall the cartoon adaptation of their first tale? It’s been years, but I think it was the Jay Ward Studio.

                    2. I didn’t even know that the Princess and the Goblins had any followup– I remember *A* cartoon of that, I think by the same folks who do the “same fairy tails Disney did, closer to the story” things, like Thumbilina.

                    3. I have never seen anything solid, just shadows and movement from the corner of my eye kind of things, but my premonitions seem to come true a bit more often that they, statistically, should. So if I would happen to win the self-publishing lottery in a big way and move to your side of the pond I officially promise to arrange a private con for Hoyt’s Horde (or whatever the name was, has it been decided yet?) all expenses paid… 😀

                      Seriously speaking, yes, while one part of my head insist that the weird things people see probably have more to do with how our brains work rather than what is outside of our heads, I would still not be at all surprised if they were real in some sort of Otherworld beings sense. And I do treat the possibility as real, just to be on the safe side.

                    4. It doesn’t hurt to be safe.

                      (Since grandma read tea leaves until she noticed that she was really, really accurate, and another relative of some flavor was a very accurate dowser, I never really had the option of fluttering my hands and calling it all made-up.)

                    5. Same here– I have a dowser, a couple of faith healers, dreamers, etc. Plus just in my family we have a couple of dreamers (I dream), and I see patterns. This was before I started writing regularly btw so I can’t blame it on that– When I lose something, I’ll use the pendulum for triangulation. Yep it works for me. — I have learned that I need to be careful and certain tools (like ouija boards) are inimical to me.

                    6. I think it might have something to do with the creative spark because I come from a long line of writers and singers (opera singers on my father’s side of the family, plus mother had a metropolitan audition before she married.)

    3. If there is anyplace begging for serious research in cryptozoology it would have to be Goldport, just ask the guys who recently took over that news rag…

      1. You mean…. there ARE such people? I thought they were mythical… (Well… except for the unsuccessful who are temporarily burned out or super busy feeding themselves and families…)

      2. further… I think I started writing (poorly) in Jr high, then some bits in the navy, and then got busy and stressed (bad jobs, marriage, etc) and went back to serious writing later. But I still wrote poetry – especially when things got tight.

  21. The sad thing is that, here in Ohio (southern and central Ohio, anyway), it’s assumed that anyone writing for Baen is probably Rich, a Bestseller, and has Lots of Fans. (Which they certainly do, around here.)

    1. So suburbanbanshee, what part of southern and central OH are you in. I live in Franklin, Sanborntonfarm will be moving in with me in May, if the distance isn’t too far we might consider a coffee date at some point. I met Wayne Blackburn for coffee once and hope to do so again. It is nice to meet people in real life that are as cracked…err interesting as I am

        1. Yes, let’s! It would be great to meet the local Hoyt’s Huns, and to see Sarah again (although, knowing why that visit would happen, I don’t want it to be too soon).

          On Thu, Apr 4, 2013 at 10:20 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

          > ** > accordingtohoyt commented: “And next time Dan and I come to Ohio > (Likely this year, one way or another) let’s arrange for a meet.” >

          1. actually, my FIL is moving to some sort of assisted facility, if he can find one that will take him and MIL (completely different levels of functioning) and we might come up to help him pack/do final stuff in the house. If we can afford money/time (which might not be possible, because Dan might just be starting a job or something.) In the same way, part of the reason I finally put the subscribe button up, is that I’d like to go see my parents sometime late summer. Right now that seems like a pipe dream, but we’ll see.

  22. Hmm. Interesting. If what you are distributing is a bunch of bits, and you have several different e-books to justify the space, I don’t see why self-publishing won’t become the norm in the future.

    Most of the open-source software projects and commercial software vendors have their own site from which users download their products. They may use other people’s servers, such as SourceForge to distribute to users, but the public face of their projects are their own creation.

  23. I like your discussions of writing and publishing. I’ve learned a lot from your posts, here and at Mad Genius. You and Ms. Rusch have clarified the virtues of going indie and the instability of the current traditional publishing model very well. For those of us with aspirations for publishing our work, it’s very helpful to get your insights. I’m doing copyedits now on the work I’m about to put up. Next step is the cover and then it goes on Kindle. You have helped a lot.

    I get to one con a year. It’s CapClave outside of Washington, DC, and, now that you mention it, I don’t recall a Baen presence. Interesting. Last year CapClave had a panel on epublishing covers. I don’t remember if I saw indie authors anywhere other than that panel, but there might have been.

    For years, I kept forgetting to bring or re-stock my business cards before a meeting or conference. Ms. Hoyt, please just keep your bookmarks in your purse or one of those side pockets in your car. It’s the only solution. Trust me on this one. 🙂

    1. CapClave is very literary. The one time I was there (year before last) I had fun, but it really is a Literary convention with all that implies.

  24. There is an art deficit. When I was a kid there would be cool paintings at cons of alien moons,lunar cities and mightily thewed warriors. CapClave has some good t-shirts.

    They have had a Heinlein panel a couple of different years.

  25. …every local con I participate in, I need to fight for reading/signing and if I get one scheduled it is, inevitably, either against the bestselling author OR during dinner hour. Even during Worldcon, in 08, when it was local, I had no reading, though readings were given to people who hadn’t published a book in years/weren’t writing a book/had no intention of writing a book.

    Obviously I’m not that great at marketing / promotion and most of my convention experiences revolve more around gaming cons than SF/F cons. But what I would think about doing in such cases is take a good size color promo card or poster with your name prominent, grab a table in the lobby or bar, and just set up a handful of books and a stack of bookmarks and lists of ebook titles for an hour or two and start talking to passing fans. Make sure that the boys are pushed behind you.

    1. I listened to that a couple hours ago. I wish her volume on the phone connection had been a bit louder, but I understood every word she said. The Audible chapter from David Drakes new Honorverse novel is nice, too.

  26. ” Read all you want. I’ll write more.”
    I’m going to hold you to that. I’m really looking forward to Noah’s Boy. Not quite enough to buy the eArc, but almost. (I have a real problem with paying more for an electronic file than I’d pay for a new paperback, even though I haven’t read a physical book in a few years.) And I will buy all of your Baen ebooks as they become available. I am planning to get the rest of your other stuff as you get it put out in e-format, too. *nods emphatically*

  27. Isn’t there a Bible verse about this?

    A profit-maker is not respected in his homeland?

    Something like that, anyways……

  28. Already over 200 comments, wow. Sorry I didn’t get in on this one early.

    Somehow we find it strange that a writer is good at writing and not a personal presentation. Similarly upon seeing a radio personality that they “don’t look like what they sound like” and aren’t experts in presentation. (Remember Rush Limbaugh trying to make a TV show.)

    How much more so for a writer, who’s voice is words and presentation is imagery through phrasing.

    I’m sure you could hire a PR agent if it’s important to you, who could weave a persona to dazzle people you meet in person. But would that make a difference to your writing output and book sales?

    …bought and read A Few Good Men (Kindle version). I think I missed some necessary context by not having read the other Darkship books first.

    1. Question; so if subscribing to the more expensive subscriptions that add perks like t-shirts, mugs, etc., if subscribing monthly does that mean you get a t-shirt and/or mug each month?

      1. You wish! 😛 No, it just means you get a t-shirt with the 100 yearly (probably the according to hoyt t-shirt with the Muir drawing) and the other means shirts/mugs when I have them available. (Usually when a book comes out. BUT I don’t expect anyone to go above 100 unless you get rich.)

        1. Dang, and I thought it was going to be a somewhat reasonable way to clothes shop 😉

            1. Think of my disappointment when I was looking for a slip– they don’t make them anymore because women don’t wear them anymore… I have one that I keep for those special moments–when I were a skirt– which is not often anymore.

  29. I hate to be a pest and all but it looks like the yearly subscription options for basic and patron both turn into monthly subscriptions at Paypal. :/

    1. GAH. They shouldn’t! (Because they take less relatively from larger amounts, it’s calculated to come out about the same, and I was hoping people would go yearly) I’ll check later. Of course, this is beta, in a way…

    2. I don’t see it at all, but it doesn’t seem to be creating recurring payments for most of them, at that. How very odd. Perhaps you should try again. Seems to be on the paypal side, if there is a glitch. I’ll ask their support people.

      1. Yeah it looks like it’s something to do with Paypal from my end too. I tried it with both IE and Firefox just to make sure it wasn’t some goofy browser thing, too. In either case I can select the yearly subscriptions from Goldport Press just fine but when I get to Paypal they’ve become monthly subscriptions instead.

          1. Add me to the list of “PayPal doesn’t trust”. [Wink]

            I attempted the annual payment and got the monthly.

  30. If you have to make a choice, I’d go for makeup over underwear. 😉 Unfortunately for my lazy preference for not applying a thin layer of carefully color-calibrated mud to my face every morning, I’m convinced it’s an absolutely necessary part of social armament for women.

    1. oh yes. THIS is why I normally wear makeup at cons. It’s the persona. Not this time, though. And as ill as I felt, people were calling me ma’am instead of “miss” — sigh.

      1. I gather that in such urban environments as the American NE a layer of make-up is an essential protectorate against air-borne toxins and filth. Similarly, many people have forgotten (or were never taught) that the reason well-bred ladies always wore gloves was because cities were dirty beyond any modern imagining. Burning coal and wood for heating a million homes is not conducive to clean air.

      2. I have yet to find one of those carefully calibrated muds that actually blend into the particular completion with which my progenitors (probably the Scots ones) blessed me. When I was young I found a tinted moisturizer which nearly worked, but it is no longer made. The muck on the market, even the high priced stuff, ends up resembling an artificial mask.

        So, when I get dressed up, I go by Momma’s stated rules for ladies. (Mind you I think this is a woman who probably, at heart, mourned the loss of the gloves rule to her end.) A girl, once grown, should never leave the house without a hint of blush, a bit of mascara and some gloss upon her lips.

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