I woke up at 4:30 am with the need to explain an altercation I got into in my conference (Sarah’s Diner) on facebook, yesterday night.
I wasn’t raised in a barn, and public blow ups upset me because they SHOULD be beneath me.
The explanation turned VERY long and pulled together threads that I don’t think I ever made explicit here, including stuff about my health and what is going on with my career (though a lot of you caught some of it by implication and inference, I haven’t been explicit on anything.) To be blunt a lot of this was stuff I was trying to ignore in the hopes it would go away, or at least leave me alone. Since it’s now, 3 years later, clear that it won’t, the least I can do is explain it.
So I copied that post and it’s below. When reading it, remember it partly refers to events in a conference on Facebook. But the general explanations as to why I behaved like a fishwife still apply.
As is in the post I have a doctor’s appointment shortly, but I should be back around 10am my time or so.
Yesterday I lost my temper here in the diner and resorted to outright insults.
I don’t think I’ve ever done THAT before or not quite in the same way and certainly not against a colleague.
Because you guys know I try to run a friendly, apolitical, religion-accepting group I thought I should explain.
First the TL/DR, though please, if you can I BEG you to read the whole thing. It’s probably the longest post I’ll put up here, that’s not a book excerpt. It’s THAT important to me. So if you can, please read the whole thing.
The TL/DR is as follows: A few friends (two of them Kate Paulk and Amanda S. Green, aka, my main accomplices in pretty much everything. The “famous” one Larry Correia and the at the time “about as famous as I” Brad Torgersen) joined in a campaign to remove science fiction awards advertised as “fan awards” from the hands of a clique (proving it was in the hands of a clique was our first point) and give it back to the fans. That was it. That was point A through Z of our agenda. It was called Sad Puppies after an earlier “joke” campaign of Larry’s designed to show the award once won by Heinlein and LeGuinn was in the hands of a clique and a political one at that.
The campaign Brad and I were involved in was SP 3. I was supposed to take it, but I was deathly ill. (More below) and Brad who is a pure hallo knight stepped in to do it so I wouldn’t kill myself.
I got up from cancer surgery (QUITE LITERALLY THE NEXT DAY) to find the campaign and the guys who were the most visible in it being demonized as racist/sexist homophobic (more in the long version.)
I was ill, I was not evil. So I (quite literally) dragged myself up from bed rest and down two flights of stairs to my then basement office, where I spent the next three weeks up till all hours, trying to defend them and point out I was part of this campaign from the beginning.
For my trouble I was smeared the same way as the men ON NATIONAL PRESS and lost any leftist friends I had remaining (keep in mind that I had already, by then, come out of the closet politically. But this is when anyone leftist in the field either walked away, unfriended me or “remained a friend” while slandering me more or less to my face. Yes, there are at least three of you in here who didn’t walk, two of whom were vocal SP3 supporters. Thank you for that.)
I KNOW because I have caught the fringes, not so fringes, and people I trust (or people I barely know who have no reason to tell me this) have all told me this that there’s a whisper campaign against me that has pretty much destroyed any of my chances of a continuing traditional career. (No, I’m not lying down and dying. I’ve published indie in the past and made more than on any of my traditional books. I can do it again.)
I know that both bookstores and cons have been targets of this whisper campaign that presents me to strangers as “racist, sexist, homophobic,” something so laughable it would not stand the test of anyone who’s seen me, spoken to me or “merely” read my books.
In fact, I think the whisper campaign after SP3 WILL NOT LET GO of me because they can’t reach Larry and Brad superficially (except for the fact he’s married to an African-American) fits their “these are all white mormon males” slur but I BY EXISTING, having the friends I do and writing what I do pretty much refute it.
Because I was and am a mere midlister, there have been few people who troubled to push back against the campaign, and whisper campaigns are hard to defend against, anyway. Mud sticks. Amanda has suffered some, but less, because she’s pure indie. Kate pretty much dropped out of social media and the field (though there’s more to this) over it.
To have one of those colleagues, who have been slandering me and my friends, pretty much openly, again align himself HERE with the people who attacked us and the whisper campaign as well as the slanders on national press was the last straw, and I blew up.
I’m not going to blow up at any of you for saying the wrong thing. We’ll still enforce diner rulers, and if you try to oh, advertise yourself/sell stuff without permission or bring politics or religion in, my mods will remove it/possibly wag their fingers at you. But that’s it.
Now, if you want the deep context:
Larry ran SP 1 as a joke. It started as a badly drawn cartoon and a blog post. He was more or less joking — as a lot of us had over recent years — about how the Hugos had changed and didn’t represent what they used to.
SP 2 he got more serious and I’ll admit myself (and Brad, and my two friends, Kate and Amanda) had a few emails about it, mostly about “design” and how to ask for noms. That sort of thing. I confess that entire year is a blur. I didn’t even realize one of my shorts online at baen.com (Dog’s Body) was one of the recommends.
Turns out at the time I was trying hard to die of undiagnosed hypothyroidism, sleep apnea and uterine cancer, while dealing with a house I suspected (turned out I was right though we still don’t know why) I was allergic to (my auto-immune had back to back flares for 13 years, and my asthma became life-limiting. No, we couldn’t find mold or any of the normal culprits.) [FYI part of the reason this year has freaked me out so badly is that this is the last time my fiction writing shut down hard. Though to be fair it’ a different kind of shut down, and it’s possible this time it’s only stress.]
I sort of lived in a “soup” of events that happened and then I forgot. I know Larry got attacked as evil-bad, but nothing like what would happen in the next year.
Because some of the accusations were racist/sexist/homophobic, and honestly because I was out of my mind, not sleeping, very depressed and generally ill, I offered to take the next year.
In December of that year we started the process of moving from the house of 13 years to a rental, so we could fix our house (a victorian) for sale, a project that was mostly my responsibility as always — not a complaint, I’m the one with two carpenter grandfathers and experience in hands-on remodeling — also on the first week of January I got the phone call telling me the mass in my uterus was cancerous but still encapsulated and scheduling radical utherectomy and ovarectomy for early March.
Because I’d promised the guys I’d take it, I was trying to do it (guys, I once tried to drive to Myrtle beach when Hurricane — ah — Hugo was causing it to be evacuated, because I’d promised to do hospitality for a con. It took my husband practically sitting on me to keep me from doing it.)
Brad, who was then a mere acquaintance, but who will be my blood brother forever more, finally CALLED ME and told me he’d do it, please, for the love of G-d, get ready for my surgery and then rest afterwards, and stop trying to kill myself.
I will point out part of the great stress at that point was my family and I and probably my friends being afraid it wasn’t as encapsulated as we thought.
Some of you in the gun/right blogsphere know that Connie Du Toit, an online friend, and family at a remove (she was a “sister” to a friend I call my “little brother by another mother.” I just never met her in person.) was dying after a similar process.
So. I let Brad take it, and started preparing in case things went very bad indeed. Remember I have two sons and a husband and at the time a son was applying to medschool, while the other was in his first years of college, both in situations of high tension.
I actually don’t remember if this period was weeks or months. I was concentrating on something else.
I know Brad took nominations on blogs, and that it wasn’t political at all, because that’s what he said when he started out. In fact he made it clear it SHOULDN’T be even vaguely political, if he was going to run it. Brad thought the Hugos could be saved and mean, once more “things fans like to read” and to that end mostly encouraged fan participation.
Imagine my surprise when I woke up from pain killer fog to find out that the campaign which had got a bunch of nominations was being demonized IN NATIONAL PRESS as “white supremacist” (Yes, with Larry and Brad. Snort, giggle. And myself behind the scenes.) and the men smeared with sexism and homophobia.
Again, I was ill but I wasn’t evil. I dragged myself from bed and for the next few weeks joined the online fray going “Guys, I’m involved in this. How can it be those things? And how can you say we want to drive women, gays and minorities from writing sf/f? First, we don’t have gatekeeper power. Second, three of us in support roles are female and one of us is a fricking first generation Latin immigrant. Third, Larry is a second generation Latin immigrant (and looks it as much as my guys) and Brad is married to an African-American woman.”
ALL I GOT for my trouble was the whisper campaign against me. How bad and widespread was that? A long-time friend who is NOT IN ANY WAY INVOLVED IN PUBLISHING OR LITERATURE, except for being a rabid mystery fan, but who lives in NYC and thus has friends of friends in publishing (and who happens to be gay) sent me a joke text saying he’d heard I wanted to fry him in oil, but please don’t serve him with arugula or he’d haunt me.
This was so weird I asked “wha?”. (We text several times a week, but usually about books we’ve read/our families/stuff like that.)
He didn’t realize this was in any way serious, but the whisper campaign had reached him. He thought it SO bizarre that, not being plugged in to our field and having been my friend for years, he thought it was a joke.
Another prong that reached me was COSINE in the springs telling me they still wanted me as a guest and I’d always be welcome, regardless of what people said about me, because they knew it wasn’t true. (COSINE is a TINY con. It’s also — as a point of reference, because it means nothing in context — mostly organized by left-wingers.)
Other things that have happened since include the fact that the Darkship Series which was doing wonderfully had almost no lay down for the next books, and yes, friends in the bookstore side said that everyone “knows” I’m evilbad, racist, sexist, homophobic and the books are evil, and since I’m not a bestseller, why risk issues by stocking me. (Yes, there’s other issues where I and the house dropped the ball. BUT I’m not washing ALL dirty laundry in public RIGHT NOW.) Rightly or wrongly, whispers have also reached me that because of this, and except for collaborations under contract, the house will never publish me again. I’ve had no confirmation, but that’s not how the field works, and various projects being dropped on the ground mid-negotiations lead me to believe it’s correct. No, in 2018 it’s NOT the end of the world. (Oh, look, it’s indie o’clock.)
That’s what happened. That’s the price I paid for standing by my friends and trying to remove the fan award from the hands of a clique so powerful they can get lying articles into Entertainment Weekly.
The furor and the viciousness surprised this veteran of street battles and a woman who had outright COMMUNIST professors tell her she’d have a B UNLESS she ‘joined the party’. (Yes, my answer was, these are my middle fingers.)
It didn’t do any good anyway. The media that reached out to us distorted Brad’s words and intentions (trust me. And I feel guilty for that because with THAT I could/should have helped, including telling him to please record everything. I plead loopy and high on pain killers, and TIRED to the point I was passing out at my desk and having to be helped up the stairs.) They also TOTALLY ignored me. Brad and Larry kept saying “look, this is crazy cakes. Call Sarah. She’s with us on this.” And people ignored me (for the same reason the campaign against me is whisper. Because if said about me to people who’ve met me or read a couple of my books, it’s laughable.)
SP3 was hounded in the press and slandered publicly. Our nominees of color/other orientations/women were hounded to drop out and denounce us, including threats they’d never work in the field again.
Here I want to single out Kary English who refused to drop out (and who incidentally is socialist — this is not political — and took her punches right along with us.) She’s a very brave lady, and I hope all of you who have any interest at all in justice will support her. She’s also an amazing writer, btw. I have a vague memory — remember what was happening in my world at the time — that Amanda S. Green was the first one to mention her as an amazing writer.
Then this was used to “prove” we were racist/sexist/homophobic and those of you don’t know about the assterisk ceremony ask someone who knows. That ceremony watched via computer almost caused me to have a stroke. Remember I’m a berserker who suffers when she can’t reach through the computer and throttle those who deserve it.
It also broke forever my opinion of writers I’d admired and promoted.
Over the next year things got better. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and started treatment (though because it’s a rare form the first treatment made me gain 20 lbs. It’s okay. Lost it now, plus some.)
In that year, my friend Kate Paulk took SP 4. By then I was disgusted, and sure the field couldn’t be saved. I was also moving/being treated/a son was moving away, another moving back to our new basement apartment — look Denver rents are unreal and his eligibility for loans meant we had to pay for two years of his rent, or he would be left hanging the last year of medschool. No, you can no longer work while in medschool. We elected to pay that amount in mortgage rather than his rent, because we can sell this house afterwards if needed and have something to show for it. Part of the reason we moved to Denver. I didn’t support Kate as much as I should have, but Kate tried to run the MOST open, conciliatory campaign ever (also ineffective to an extent because of it.)
Her payment was to be demonized, and to the extent I weighed in it was to defend her.
By then it had become clear that the Hugo was not only in the hands of a cabal with two editors with media reach at the center of it, but that they thought of it was a way to attract authors and get prestige (authors who are also college professors STILL value the Hugo. Looks good on a resume and gets you jobs. That’s it.)
I claimed Sad Puppies for the year after Kate, but with no intention of doing the Hugo. Instead, I was going to run a read-recommendation site. Most of all I WANTED to keep it out of the hands of people I didn’t know/couldn’t trust/who thought it was a vehicle (G-d help me) to success.
I wanted to do that, because I didn’t want someone to either really run a racist/sexist/homophobic/white supremacist campaign and/or to be manipulated into looking like he was in a more credible way than they could manipulate us, because that would completely tar our names and reputations in retrospect. (Bad enough someone we had no control over ran a parallel campaign that could be semi-credibly tarred that way, because the person running it actually is those things and proud.)
As it turned out this is when treatment for hypothyroidism kicked in earnest and I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. I started the year in the hospital, and … again, its’ a blur. So SP 5 never happened. And yes, crazy people attacked me for it (crazy people who thought I owed it to them to run it) including calling it “dereliction of duty” for refusing to either pass the campaign on or run one FOR THE HUGO. Because apparently they own me and I owed them.
I was using my scant ability to function to write the books owed: Darkship Revenge (which for some reason isn’t listed on Amazon as part of the series. Wonder if that has anything to do with its not selling well enough for a mmpb edition. What do you guys think? Is it possible the fact the series page lists it as a FOUR book series have anything to do with it? Nah. Pure coincidence, I’m sure.) and Uncharted which needed intensive research, which I was doing right then.
L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright approached me this year, pointing out even Kate’s campaign served to promote indie books, and would I consider letting someone else run it, even if I wouldn’t do it, even “just” at a promo site.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t want the name resurrected for the reasons of backward taint I mentioned above. But just for confirmation I emailed Larry to ask what he thought. Let’s say the reaction was explosive and that “I will personally ruin them” was mentioned in conjunction with “anyone anywhere who resurrects Sad Puppies.”
So, yesterday I wander in here (yes, I’m doing much better thank you, even if this year has been financial and emotional hell for my family, only about 1/4 of it fallout from SP3. And yes, I know I can get our butts out of the serious financial bear trap by writing a lot of indie books. It’s just, as I’ve told some of you in the past, financial stress shuts me down. Yes, I’m trying to get over it and showing some success.) and Jagi has mentioned the publicity campaign for indie.
I don’t think (from what I remember. Not going back to the thread) she mentioned calling it Sad Puppies. Someone else did, though.
Reading through the thread I explained that yes, I think a promo site for indie books is needed but that Larry doesn’t want us to call it SP and I for one am not brave enough to defy him, and that honestly, I thought having ANY of us associated with it would taint it. (Look at the extent of the whisper campaign against me and its consequences, and you figure it out. I’m not putting myself down nor do I intend to give up writing, but mud sticks, and it would be quixotic to claim after all this crap that no mud clung to me. Oh, yeah, I no longer attend MileHi which is technically my home con, because the program organizer denounced me (she ain’t too bright) as racist/sexist/homophobic. The other cons in the Denver area don’t even invite me, though they invite smaller authors, nor, without Baen paying for me to go, does comicon accept me as panelist. Yes, destruction has been that widespread. I attend cosine because they went out of their way to be nice to me. DESPITE the campaign.)
Then I read down the thread and find R S who has in the past denounced us as racist/sexist/homophobic, for which he has NO excuse having met all of us has sided with the opponents and by implication re-slandered us.
I blew up. I’m a berserker. I blow up.
I apologize to you, my fans, for behaving like a fishwife. I hope you understand my motivations.
I knew he had slandered me on his page, directly and by implication in the past. I also know he’s politically my opposite — but that’s no excuse. Some of you here are also. Writing ISN’T politics even if some politics sometimes leak into books — but that’s still no excuse.
Then by saying that if it was called Sad Puppies “some of us will stay away with a vengeance” he was both siding with the people who slandered us and implying he STILL believed it all. In my own conference.
Forgive me if the red mist descended.
I didn’t break anything. I didn’t even have to drink to stop myself breaking things (alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and if I can I use it when the shakes and crying set in when I’m trying not to break things. Look, I know it’s romanticized in books and movies, but the berserking is a right bitch, okay?)
I was, however, rude and intemperate, for which I apologize.
Semi-related and because in this post I’ve related more of the health thing than I have ever in the past:
I’m doing better. Much better. This year feels like waking up.
I’m being treated for thyroid (though I think recently something went weird, as I’m losing hair again and there are other symptoms. I need to get my *ss down to take a test.)
I was floridly hypothyroidal to the point my doctors — every doctor, including gynecologist — had me tested twice a year. The tests came back normal. Turns out I produce thyroid fine, it’s the uptake and conversion that’s screwed up. It’s an auto-immune thing, and none of the doctors (not being endocrinologists) knew enough to run it down. It had been going out of kilter since I had younger son and was seriously bad by two years ago. As a side note, ALL of my career was against the backdrop of being incredibly hypothyroidal a disease that impairs brain function and energy. No I have no clue what that means, but I wish I had those 20 years back.
The cancer was completely encapsulated, and I needed no radiation/chemo/any of it, and have had no problems since.
Sleep apnea was diagnosed about a year ago. It was made worse by the weight gain while trying to fix the thyroid, but honestly, it’s probably been with me for ten years, because it’s part of mouth conformation and something that gets worse with age.
It COULD be treated with a dental appliance, but because (particularly when asthmatic) I also have oxygen deficiency issues, the machine works better.
For the first time in ten years I’m sleeping in more than a couple of minutes intervals and having been treated for that for 8 months, things like emotions are coming back.
I’ve lost to date since… July? 37 lbs and have 50 to go. And I’m starting to want to write fiction again and would probably write more if it weren’t being eaten by the non-fiction (paid non-fic, my attempt at getting our butts out of a financial trap mui grande. It is what it is.)
Oh, yeah, the hospital early two years ago yielded a diagnosis of meningioma which is a tumor in the skin of the brain. Yes, it’s malignant (I’m at a high risk for cancer, because of auto-immune) [update: Son says they’re not all malignant, which is what I had UNDERSTOOD. But then I was not processing extremely well when I had it explained to me. He says they can only tell if it’s malignant by growth which is why I need to go have — expletive — MRI] but it’s ISOLATED and can’t reach anywhere inside that skin. It’s also over my vision center. Mass effect has played havoc with my vision and caused me to give up driving years before this was diagnosed (my depth perception sucks and my eyes were changing too fast for glasses. I also have double vision. I thought it was a menopause thing, but it’s apparently the fact this thing is over my vision center.)
Lately it’s got worse, for which I have an appointment today, because an MRI might be indicated.
Okay, that’s it, puppies, health and apology, all of which woke me up in the middle of the night. And probably the longest post I ever wrote in this conference. If you stayed with it to the end, I’ll be echoing this on my blog, and I hope you understand why I blew up.