Fun House Mirrors, Reprise

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Hi guys, I feel like death warmed over.  This weekend was Cosine, the last con of  its kind in Colorado Springs.

Because we’d gone to the first, because we tend to take time to go — even though January is always both my busy month and usually a time I’m ill as hell — we thought we should attend the last. (My usual reluctance to attend is not cons only.  We also usually had a party with old friends for Superbowl and it was also really hard to make it, though most of the time I did, because January, busy and ill as hell. It seems to be off for this year and as soon as I kick this cold, we should try to get together with those friends for a dinner or something.)

If you saw me at Cosine and thought I was more lackluster than usual, sorry.  You see, the night of Thursday my ears started hurting.  I have what feels like a cold except I’m not really coughing, which is usually a problem, because that’s how I end up with pneumonia.  From other stuff, mostly my ears and throat are…interesting.  I might have to go to the doctor.  (Regardless of whether one son is training to be one, I really hate going to do the doctor.)

But none of this is important right now.  Well, not most of it. Except the fact I felt like hell, and would rather be home finishing a novel.  But because I felt like hell, I was probably better off, honestly, at the con in terms of what I produced which was nothing. Yesterday we were home, and other than church, where I sat well away from any kids or old ladies, and left asap, I got NOTHING done, save sit on the sofa and read a novel (which I’ll probably talk about tomorrow.)

Of course the con also produced nothing.

Look, cons used to be really important to build your career.  Because your only ways to become known were two: your publisher pushed you OR you went to places where fans gathered, got them to order your book, and if you were lucky your publisher saw you surrounded by fans and decided to push you.  Even when I broke in, 20 years ago, I saw people leap ahead of me in fandom and publicity because they had money and spent two years hitting a con every week.

Book tours worked too, on the same principle — from what I understand from my bestselling friends (well, the ones who talk business with me) — right now they only sort of do.  Their purpose is more to make your fans excited AND to have the book reps/bookstore people see it and report it, than any real sales extension.

Anyway, I know cons don’t work that way now.  When we ran the tiny all-friends group publisher, one of us regularly hit cons, and we know it makes NO difference. As in bloody none.  I can see a bigger spike in sales because I wrote a post for PJ and mentioned the latest book than because I went to a con.

And due to the “nothing is fun anymore” people cons have gone massively smaller and grayer.  Though to be fair, other than the books you sell in situ (paper books becoming more a souvenir of meeting the writer) comicons and big media cons don’t particularly help, either.

Years and years ago, I became aware I went to cons for two reasons: to see friends in the field who lived far away, and to meet my fans.  Which is why more and more I do Liberty con, though it’s not insanely affordable and this year — tears at hair — is going to come after two weddings and G-d willing not a funeral, but we have to do things with OUR parents, difficult on one side for health reasons.  But it’s a nice, relatively relaxed con, and the word seems to have gone out to my fans, so they gather.  And that’s okay.

I also try to have dinner with my fans once a month in Denver (ask and someone will tell you when and where.  I don’t like to post it on my blog, because you know how insane things have gotten.)  And as the kids fan out (At least one of them is thinking probably Texas in a couple of years, just based on where he wants to work, but of course it depends on what he finds when he looks) we’ll probably spend part of the year elsewhere, and have dinner there too once a  month.  So you guys in other states can cross your fingers and hope.  Neither of them particularly wants to go to the snow belt, but you know, it could still happen, anyway.

The point here, though, is that none of this REALLY matters.  Well, the dinners do, and my fans do. By and large I like my fans, which I understand is a strange thing for an author.  But what used to be major promotional efforts are now jaunts you can take for fun, should you choose too. In fact I was blackballed (if reports are correct) from a con this year, and my major upset over it is that I’d planned to meet with my inner group there, the few dozen fans who have become my extended family.  But oh, well, the timing wasn’t really convenient anyway, and we’ll always have Liberty con, where most of them are attending anyway.

Because careers, and the sense of what a career is have changed.

It used to be you had to be very nice to a variety of people, no matter how rude they were to you, or how much you knew they hated your guts and would like to eat you with a nice chianti: agents, editors, SMOFS, con booksellers.  Any of these, if he or she took a determined enough dislike to you could get the rumor mill going, and because these people all dined/gathered/(sometimes)slept together, one of them hating you hard enough could destroy your career.

It’s much harder now.  I suppose if Amazon personally and particularly blacklisted me, I’d be in a little trouble, but even that won’t really be FINAL.  (For one I know someone working on an alternative RIGHT NOW, and you’re going to like it, I promise.  Not a replacement. Not unless Amazon gets stupid. But an alternative.)

I think I mentioned here a month or so ago that normally this would be the time to retire. When the publisher that other houses think is the devil publishes you, you will never publish with other houses again (yes, that used to be different, but…) and when they decide to drop you, it used to be you had no option but to retire.

Now?  Oh, hell.  Even bad numbers won’t kill you.  Who keeps the numbers? The bookstores?  You mean Barnes and Toys who will probably be out the door by the end of this year?  Or do you mean indies which are nice, sure, but like everything dealing primarily in paperbooks, unless they host a ton of signings and “events” are feeling pinched as heck? (I know. I have friends working the field all over the country. And it’s not that you can’t make a living of a bookstore, but you’d best host parties, and author get togethers, and workshops, and writers’ groups, and–  It’s a venue, now, more than just a sales place.)

Selling to the net was a problem. But now it’s largely irrelevant.  Every book is your new book. Your first chance. Your brand new start.  And if the left (it’s always the left) starts a rumor campaign against you, you sidestep it, write something different, under a new name.

In the bad old days when what you sold depended on whether your publisher pushed you and your public image was just so, there were a number of cases — as quickly as possible hushed up — of a midlister or a low-selling writer who submitted under a closed pen name and became the new and hot thing.

Publishers hated when these became known, because it showed how much of success or failure was their decision, and they wanted to hold on to the fantasy it was ALL the writer.

So by the time I broke in, no agent who wanted to keep working in the field cooperated in this.  You HAD to tell the publisher that this was a pen name and who the writer really was, or the publisher would blacklist the agent and therefore cut his source of income. (Always remember who agents really work for.)

But that was then. This is now. I already write under THREE completely closed pen names, and no you can’t have them.  And for a while there, they were making me more money than my real name, though I haven’t written anything really for about a year, for… reasons.  But there’s a book almost finished, and others started. And a couple more almost finished. AND it has slowly sank in that I’m free.

In this case it’s not JUST “nothing left to lose.”  I really am free. What if my next three books fail?  So what?  The fourth could be an enormous success.  More than that, what is fail?  I know several indie writers none of you ever heard of who are making more than I’ve ever made per year of writing.

So what is indie? Indie is new beginnings. As many as you want. It only stops with death.  And that is in a way being forever young.  I kind of like it.  Welcome to the island of the blessed!

These are the good news.

The further good news is that cons don’t matter.

I’ll admit, partly this is good news to me because I’m an introvert.  Left to my own devices, I’d hole up in my office and write the clock around. Cons were and are always immensely stressful, which is why I usually get sick BEFORE them, because my immune system goes on the attack and it’s determined to kill me.

Now, I’m also aware that I still need to see people.  One of the ways I manage my depressive tendencies is to haul my ass out of the house once a day, unless it’s really, really cold.  And husband and I BOTH need to get a “fun day” a week on the schedule.  And if he can’t, you’ll probably find me drawing dinosaurs from the skeletons at DMNS; wandering dreamily around the art museum; watching elephants at the zoo.  All of which are ways for me to see people without having to talk to them, and all of which get me out of my own head and make it less likely I’ll become depressed.

We will also, for the foreseeable future, and unless we’re broke or health/family conspire (I’d say that won’t happen, but this year is going to be difficult, and I make no promises for future years, as parents get older and kids move away) go to Liberty Con.

But Liberty con is where I see my friends, and so many fans who’ve become friends, and my kids get to visit with their friends they grew up with.  It’s in many ways more like an hyperextended family reunion.

Cons used to be immensely stressful to me.  Not just because people, aaaaack, but because when I was in the political closet I watched myself all the time.  And even then I got snubs and cuts because, you know, I was not in vocal support, so I was always suspect.  And my panel assignments were ALWAYS weird. (That’s putting it mildly.)

But you couldn’t be rude, and you had to be pleasant and nice, no matter how crazy other people got.  Well, whatever.

I had a friend at the start of indie say “If this succeeds, I’m going to be very rude to a lot of people who deserve it.”

That’s fine. It’s the friend’s feisty way.  Me?  Bah.  I was raised in a part of Portugal that is soaked through with British cultural influence, and family was just well off enough (there might not be food on the table, but the table was CLEAN) that we had MANNERS.  Not that my parents were very good at instilling them, but kids acquire these from the surroundings. By the time I was ten I knew bragging was gauche, and by the same principle my good jewelry was tiny, both because we were poor and because “that is good breeding, that is.” (Of course, most good families in Portugal are poor as church mice. I had a friend from one.)

I not only don’t want to be rude to anyone, I have found that once they have no power over me, I don’t even particularly want to argue with them.

My focus was always the ideas, not the people. Yes, I got very angry and frustrated when I got put in assy panels or lectured in panels (this is me rolling my eyes) about how I like subtlety in my appreciation of literature, or whatever.  These days mostly I get bored. Panels are the price I pay to meet/talk to my fans.  And there’s no reason to be impolite, ever.  If I talk too much on a panel it’s mostly because ADHD and threatening to fall asleep if I don’t.

The only topic I really care about anymore is preventing young writers from falling in the clutches of scammers, large and small.  Oh, and preventing bullying of those who aren’t aware the gates are now open.

So imagine my surprise (and boredom, but mostly surprise) when Rose Beteem (I’m probably misspelling her name. I always do, being dyslexic. There are people in SF I have nicknames for, not because I’m mean but because I can’t spell their name right nine times out of ten. Which they then use to say I’m lying or the like.*) panel coordinator at Mile Hi did what I’m very sure she thought was “confronting” me after a panel two days ago.

Well, the surprise was because most people just talk behind my back and never try talking to me. So well done, her.  The boredom was because of what she thought was the important point in this.

You see, there is this post, now almost two years old.

In it I have a factual error, mostly caused by the fact I was on Prednisone which is sort of like being on speed, for me, but also sick — like now — which means I’m writing into the mind fog.

Because I wasn’t even sure what I’d written I read it before writing this.  And Rose is right.  I did say Charlie grew up with her in a small town in Colorado.  Actually we have two friends who knew her years ago, and one of them grew up in a small town in Colorado. I just agglutinated the whole thing. I am therefore issuing a retraction on that. She can stop hounding Charlie to “disprove” it publicly.

Charlie knew her when they were both young — and she has by the way unblocked him after that post, and spent the time since the post trying to get him to issue a correction and say he didn’t grow up with her in a small town in Colorado.  You can actually see him rolling his eyes can’t you? — but as he pointed out this was best said as “not in a small town FOR Colorado.” Consider please I grew up twenty minutes from (and after 7th grade spending 90% of my time in) a town of over a million.  Even Denver was small to my mind in those days.  Which matters. In large towns you don’t know people very well. Which is why I mentioned it, but honestly, none of that really matters.

And we have another friend who knew her when HE was young and who tried to exculpate her nonsense like saying I want to suppress voices in SF/F and am therefore racist, sexist and homophobic (rolls eyes) by saying she’s the most gullible woman in the world.  I kind of believe that. Note that what she obsessed about in that post was that she didn’t grow up in a small town because, she told me, that was easy to disprove, and to her mind invalided the whole thing.

Note that I’m sure she has by now erased/retracted that post/comment (and I don’t even remember which it was, honestly, and it was incoherent, even at the time), but I assure you she was stomping on puppies and claiming we were suppressing different voices, etc.  BUT the important thing was a minor error in my post, which, of course, invalidated everything else she might have done.

Which is why several people on the left in my field are addressed by nicknames, because of course, if I forget a w or an l in their name it means they’re saints and I’m the devil.

Bah.

I’m also willing to say perhaps I jumped to conclusions too fast.

Okay, her comment was probably because she’d just heard that, and can’t think through to figure out it’s nonsense, because none of us had the power to suppress ANY voices.  Saying “I don’t like this book” or even making fun of a story is NOT SUPPRESSING VOICES.  I’ve had worse done to me over and over, and that I know I’m not suppressed.  It’s entirely probable my panel assignments and bizarre things relating to that were because she’s not malicious, but merely incompetent, or simply strange.

It’s easy to attribute to malice what can simply be explained by “what?”  I might have done that.  Maybe.

Who knows? Who cares?

You know what I realized?  I realized this woman — thank Bob — has no power over me. None of them do.

I’m quite capable of f*cking up my career on my own, thank you so much, but I no longer have to be afraid anyone will f*ck it up for me because I looked at them sideways, or failed to look at them, or they heard from a third party I didn’t want to look at them, or, as in the case of a legend of SF, in a scene worthy of a comic movie, she overheard a friend and I in the bathroom AUDIBLY rolling our eyes at her dearly held political opinions….

Whatever. Yeah, I’ll make enemies.  Hell, another legend in the field hated me on name-sight on boards even before I came out politically. And I never figured out why. (Later I gave her reason and plenty to hate me by wiping the floor with her at Heinlein panels across the country, with much glee and malice, because… well, because there are topics that still matter to me, even if the personal doesn’t. And I am not a NICE person. I try to be good, but that’s completely different.)

But the good news is THAT DOESN’T MATTER ANYMORE.

More importantly, there’s always a fresh start over the hill, and I can FINALLY at long last do what newby me (the poor duckling, that she was) THOUGHT was the job: tell stories, and perfect the stories, and get better at them, and compete with myself to reach ever higher.

I don’t even want to be rude to anyone, or tear anyone down.  That only seemed important when they had power over me.  How much I wanted to strike back was a measure of they’re power.

I guess now, they have none. Now, I’ll mutter a quiet “excuse me please,” as I go around.  And that’s all.  That’s all I want and that’s all I need. I just want to do my work.  And they don’t MATTER to it.

I’m issuing the retraction because, well, I messed that part up.  And I’m also saying “Who the heck cares, anymore?”  I don’t.  No bad feelings, because none of this even warrants FEELINGS.  There are important political battles.  Most of them aren’t in my field.  Oh, they’ll continue hitting. Good for them. It’s nice to have a hobby.

Though I will reserve the right to point and make duck noises, because I have a low mind, of course. But what the heck. Sometimes I point at MYSELF and make duck noises, because like Jane Austen’s character, I dearly love to laugh.

What I’m finding is that even relationships between writers are much more healthy in indie.  You no longer look at someone getting a lot of push and think “oh, that’s where the publicity money is going” and worry for your own book coming out next month.  Or have an argument with a colleague and worry he’ll bad mouth you to the publisher.  To the extent I talk to other writers, it’s all fan letters and “I can help you this way.”  And that’s fine.

Not really caring what people think of you is a beautiful thing. It gives you the mind space to care about what matters: the stories.

Many, many great story tellers seem to have been at best socially awkward.  I do my best. But I’m not going to win any prizes. Introvert, remember?

However it doesn’t matter.  Only the stories matter.  And those, I’ll write.  And now, if you excuse me, I’m going to take ibuprofen (yes, I’m that ill) and get to work.

There’s a novel almost finished, you see?

And it turns out I’m a writer. That’s all I ever wanted to be. I’m glad most nonsense has fallen away from that job. Now I can roll up my sleeves and work.

 

 

170 responses to “Fun House Mirrors, Reprise

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Take Care And Have Fun! 😀

  2. Dorothy Dimock

    Good for you. I haven’t been to a con in years and from what I’m seeing, I’d be out of place now. Given my favorite authors are people like Weber, Ringo, Heinlein, E.E. Smith…

      • I wonder if a con could be established dedicated to celebrating the writings of Heinlein, Smith, Van Vogt, Williamson and other such purveyors of Bad Thought? Have panels refuting the scurrilous slanders inveighed against them and celebrating their contributions to the genre.

        Bad Think Con, anyone? BadFanCon? Up Yours Con? Pariah Con?

        • If I had the slightest ability to arrange such things, I’d consider it in my part of the world (which is sadly bereft of anything con-like. The closest is Philcon which isn’t even in Philly any more). I’d go for relaxacon style and see what it took to book the ski place about 20 minutes from home off-season.

          But I’m totally incapable of such things (being even more introverted than Sarah) so it will likely never be.

        • Libertycon was always that for the most part, them being Baen’s home con for all intents and purposes, but even they have fallen somewhat to the progressive crowd as has Baen itself.
          As for a new con, best have very deep pockets and a bevy of lawyers on retainer. For the liberal reaction to such a focused con I direct the student to the treatment of a small innocuous attempt to inject a similar philosophy into the Hugo awards. You might have heard of it, Sad Puppies as I recall.

        • Eh, we could have an online con. I’ve been in some.

          People participate by posting blog entries on con-like topics, and then posting links in a central location to let people know and comment. Like, say, here.

        • Up Yours Con?
          There’s got to be a way to get an acronym like UPURScon or something……

    • I used to go to the Salt Lake City Con, when I was stationed at Hill AFB – it was fun, and I wasn’t a writer then. It was just fun and local … and fun. And also affordable. There were the Star Trek fans, and the Dragonlance fans, the Whovians, and the SCA people – it was really kind of reassuring, seeing proof of that deep vein of eccentricity, in the granite of LDS solidity and circumspection. And I also went to the Albuquerque’s Bubobonicon, when I was on TDY there. Also fun – and affordable.
      Looked into going to a con in San Antonio? Yeah, 50$ to walk in the door. I figure that I can live without that experience. Sad.
      Cons – my experience of them – used to be a fun, communal experience. Now unaffordible – and from this account – not fun.

    • I gave up when the panels were no fun.

  3. I’ve found that what really gobsmacks those types is to respond to them with, “I’m sorry, you’re not important enough to me for me to dislike you. I just don’t care at all what you think.”

    See you at LibertyCon, Sarah, and hopefully at TVIW in Wichita in November!

    • Yes indeed. I want to talk to you about someone to invite, maybe invite to present, so maybe his college will pay for it?

    • I. Am. So. ticked that I can’t wrangle time off to make TVIW. At least not the way the schedule is shaking out at the moment. I know I can’t make LibertyCon (schedule change), and probably won’t make 2020 if it sells out as fast (I won’t have internet in June). But missing TVIW makes me twitch.

      • It’s November 10-15, in Wichita, KS. I’m sorry to hear that you won’t be able to make it, but do remember that we do these symposia regularly! So far, roughly every 18 months, but who knows what the future may hold?

    • “I’m sorry, you’re not important enough to me for me to dislike you. I just don’t care at all what you think.”

      Ah, the classics…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtbp5cTLLjo

  4. Half of whom are now in the deceased author category, dash it all. Which is why people should go to a con now if they want the chance to meet any of their still corporeal favorite authors.

    I’m not a big con goer, mostly because I can’t stand large groups of people; and often have a vague dis-ease looking at all the soft points in their security as I wander about.

    • Ringo is 55 and Weber is 66, so hopefully they will be with us in the intermediate future.

      On the other hand, being dead isn’t necessarily a bad thing for an author, or at least his estate. One of the consequences of the Puppy Kicker craze was a number of authors I liked who apparently lost their marbles and felt it necessary to go online and spew hate against a number of demographics I belong to.

      Hey, I’m not going to argue with them. But they’re not seeing any more of my money, either.

      This isn’t the 20th century, when we traveled from book store to book store to find something to read. With a few clicks I can now find more of my chosen genre than I can make time to read.

      • “I can now find more of my chosen genre than I can make time to read.”

        Not only that, but you can almost do so solely with authors you respect or agree with. Which may actually contribute to the increased polarization of society; as you can eliminate all contrary opinions and discourse from your environment.

        • James Lileks wrote a nice article about that for a newspaper, back in the 1990s. He talked about how people initially saw the internet as a way to be exposed to new views and opinions, but instead it let people build social circles free of annoying badthink.

          He used to have the article reposted on his blog, but it went away during one of the reorgs a few years ago, and he didn’t reply to email (does anyone, now?) and I couldn’t find a copy elsewhere.

    • So like… a dead poet society.

      Or if it’s sci-fi… the convention can be called, “They’re dead, Jim.”

      And featured authors can rotate each convention but only in the grave.

  5. “I am not a NICE person. I try to be good, but that’s completely different.”

    I now have an image of you in my head as Mr. Vimes.

  6. would like to eat you with a nice chianti

    That just proves they are people of low taste. The proper accompaniment for long pig is Chablis, or (depending on how it’s seasoned) a Riesling, Chardonnay, or possibly Zinfandel (if you must have red wine.)

  7. Thomas Monaghan

    I didn’t even realize Cosine was this past weekend. I gave it up a few years ago. I think the last one I went to had GRR Martin as GOH and we were told not to ask about his next book by the con.

  8. I was having a serious “I do not give a [fig], flying or otherwise” morning last Friday. Fortunately for me, a really neat sunrise shook me out of it. But yeah, I am so very, very glad that I don’t have to play nice in order to publish fiction. Non-fiction is a bit different, and even that is changing because of where academic publishing is wandering off to. But it’s not my career. If I don’t go through a Reputable Academic Publisher™, so what?

    • But… but… All The Right People won’t accept your work as valid unless it passes the proper gatekeepers!

      And let us not forget the critically important peer review process, where trained professionals proofread your work in order to make sure no errors of fact or interpretation have crept in. Surely that’s a non-negotiable part of nonfiction publishing?!

      • And let us not forget the critically important peer review process, where trained professionals proofread your work in order to make sure no errors of fact or interpretation have crept in. Surely that’s a non-negotiable part of nonfiction publishing?!

        As much now as it ever was.

    • I just feel like crap today. So since the subject of the retraction has made a comment, I’m going to click approve. Because I’m not a nice person.

      • *Non-contagious, long-distance sympathy hug* I’m off of Day Job work today, so I got as much writer-work done as possible. Not as much as I’d wanted, but I’m in a better mental space than I was on Friday. Sleep helped.

      • The only thing better than punching your enemy in the face, is letting them punch themselves in the face.

        [swing] Oooooh, that’s going to leave a mark!

      • Do we need to get you a set of prosthetic horns? }:o)

  9. But the good news is THAT DOESN’T MATTER ANYMORE.


    Set this as your ring tone for any publisher calls.

  10. *sigh* Sarah, the reason I opened with that bit is that it’s fairly objectively factual and unfortunately inaccurate. Much of the rest of your earlier post about me–which I only saw months later–was also inaccurate. I am willing to believe that you truly think I scheduled you badly because of your political beliefs, but I know that I did not. I also know, having looked back in my records of the last couple of MHCs you were at, that I was able to put you on several programs each of those three times, despite the challenge that you were only able to attend one day–which always adds a layer of complexity to the juggling. I can even send you the names of the programs you were on those three times, though it probably doesn’t matter at this point. Several were in fact the kind of writing programs that were in high demand by participants–not the ‘beginning author’ programs you described them as, and in two cases Guests of Honor were on the panels with you.
    You *were* on one program at night, but it was the panel about Space Horrors (the anthology you were in that came out that year and that someone–I don’t remember who–had requested me to to schedule a program on, but traditionally horror-related programs are often put at night. If you had ever discussed your scheduling concerns/complaints with me, that would have been one thing and I would happily have explained. Instead you took another route. We could have discussed it this weekend also, but you were obviously not interested. I did and do find it odd that you consider it some deep secret who told you that I grew up in a small town in Colorado and that you “don’t have their permission” to reveal their name. I just can’t figure out who other than Charlie would think they know that … and there’s a bit of wonderment as to what other inaccuracies they may be spreading to apparently credulous ears about me.

    • Sarah said:

      Note that what she obsessed about in that post was that she didn’t grow up in a small town because, she told me, that was easy to disprove, and to her mind invalided the whole thing.

      To which you “riposted”:

      *sigh* Sarah, the reason I opened with that bit is that it’s fairly objectively factual and unfortunately inaccurate. Much of the rest of your earlier post about me–which I only saw months later–was also inaccurate.

      I’m trying to figure out if you:

      Didn’t read what Sarah wrote,
      Didn’t understand what Sarah wrote,
      Think that restating what she said somehow positions you as the “winner”, or
      Think that the “tut tut” posturing makes you sound superior, and therefore the “winner”.

      • I grew up in a town of about 350 people… I’ve simply been confused about why it would matter or seem to be a negative statement.

        • Me too. Before I went to high school, I lived in a frigging village. I only mentioned it because you know people better/are likely to be closer in a smaller town. THAT’s it.

        • I find it funny the differences in what people consider a small town. Someone here once referred to a city of under 5000 as a “wide spot in the road”, which I thought was hilarious because I grew up in a town just slightly larger than yours, and thought 5000 was a good-sized city when I was growing up.

          Note: If whomever that was reads this comment, I want to be sure to point out that my fake umbrage at the time was purely intended as a joke, and at no time was i upset at such a statement. I remember you apologized at the time.

          • When I was a child, we vacationed in a place where the actual town — or rather, hamlet — was literally two streets that formed a T intersection. All the shops were there, and also all the houses even close enough to each other to be called suburban.

            • George Crichton

              Really small towns have the now entering and now leaving signs on the same post.

            • My folks’ current home town is a town literally because it has a post office.

              It is…in the general store. There’s a library in the community center, which is only open because they have folks volinteer to do all of the things.

              Yes, they get a kick out of this.

              • As would any sensible, public spirited citizen of a self-organizing community.

                The very best and most functional communities are self-organizing. I came to realize this in my brief stint with a local Tea Party organization. Only the desperately dysfunctional neighborhoods require the solicitous attention and efforts of a paid “community organizer.”

              • There’s a town with one resident and a library.

    • “…there’s a bit of wonderment as to what other inaccuracies they may be spreading to apparently credulous ears about me.”

      I looked you up all by myself.

      • And the only possible inaccuracy the person in question might have perpetrated is that her stupidity online is JUST that and not malice. Which you’d think she’d embrace.
        But hey, if she wants malice, I’ll believe it was malice. Don’t care either way.
        Poor Charlie had just told me he knew her when she was young. That was it. The conflation was mine, because… prednisone.
        And for this she spent almost two years harassing him.
        BTW I’m informed that being from a small town is considered an insult in the US. REALLY? That makes absolutely no sense. All I meant is that it was someone who had reason to know her.
        BUT again, abstract my conflation, and what is she afraid is false? That she’s not malicious but credulous? Okaaaaaaay.
        The reply on line I saw with my own eyes. So.
        And why the hell does she care what someone who wants to “silence” voices in science fiction believes of her?
        I’d say this is a case for St. Dymphna.

        • Only among idiots.

          Oh, sorry, I mean the fashionably inclined.

          Wait, did I just correct myself backwards?

          Anyways….

          Yeah, “small town” is usually packed in with all the “flyover country” junk, with ignorant/bigoted “paddle faster, I hear banjos” junk to boot. (Is it bad the most offensive aspect is the idea that inbreeding causes Down’s?)

          Realistically speaking, “big town” and “small town” are so relative it’s painful.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            So you are saying that those of my grandparents who were from small towns were /not/, in fact, degenerate mutant cannibals?

            • I once barely avoided laughing my head off at someone who called a place with some tens of thousands of folks a “small town.”

              ….I’ve lived places that were triple digits.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          I’d say this is a case for St. Dymphna.

          I’d laugh but it’s not nice to laugh at people like her. 😉

          • Note if she had told me, here, on my blog, or on FB “Hey, Sarah, I only met Charlie at 20” or whatever, I’d have looked up what I wrote and corrected it. Instead, she chose to play detective dog and harass Charlie. Also note my correction and my knowing people who know her makes no difference except for “was it incompetence of malice?”
            The part on FB I SAW MYSELF though I no longer remember if on her page or in a comment to someone else’s post, and my post is unclear. (It’s been two years. If I remembered every fb set to, I wouldn’t remember anything else.)

        • “And why the hell does she care what someone who wants to “silence” voices in science fiction believes of her?”

          Some people just like to air their laundry in public. That ramble about how all the panels were chosen Completely Fairly was nice. Because obviously some author who wants to silence voices in science fiction would NEVER be given less than the best spots, Sarah. Really, I’m clutching my pearls here. (How do you silence them anyway? Is there like a cone, or an arrangement of baffles, something like that? Does the silencer screw on, or is there a bayonet mount?)

          But I have you beat! You are merely silencing voices. This is me:

          “…the deep searing hatred of free speech, free association and freedom of ideas reveals itself every time.”

          Yes, that’s me! ~:D Woohoo! Searing hatred! Searing, I tell you! Take that, voice silencer!

          • Look, seriously, the problem with those panels, is that “how to get in” changes every five years. I had no advice for newbies that in any way applied.
            Again incompetence or malice. I don’t care. But if she wanted to argue for incompetence, she shouldn’t insist on discrediting people who knew her and said she was just credulous.

            • “Again incompetence or malice.” Sounds more like a bit of both. If they change their process every few years, that’s incompetence. Sticking that Sad Puppy woman with crap slots, that’s malice of the usual passive/aggressive type. Plausibly deniable shin kicking.

              Yammering about it incessantly online, under her own name for f- sakes, now we’re veering hard back toward incompetence.

              Superannuated cheerleaders are many. Clues appear to be few.

              • Well, the plausible deniability is that she put me on those panels LONG before sad puppies or I cam out politically. However, we’ve determined I’m not as opaque as I thought I was, and I know there were rumors. Besides, one of their clique knew me before I was published and KNEW I was libertarian.

                • thephantom182

                  Ahhh, the light dawns. This is the usual Mean Girls bullshit. “This one doesn’t quite fit the mold, so we’ll give her the shit time slots. No one will ever know!”

                  Yeah, I too have that t-shirt. The deniability is so very plausible.

                  • Yeah, but immediately after I typed that, I remembered that an author she fawns on and has since she was a wanna be KNEW I was libertarian. Said author dropped our writers’ group when she found out most of us were to the right of Lenin. Before I was published.
                    When that author started doing cons, is when the shit started. So you know “Oh, Sarah is all right, but you know, she’s not one of the good people.” “She has some funny ideas.” “Guess her family was counter-revolutionary” …. or something. I mean, I caught an editor doing that once, before I came out of the political closet.
                    Progs are like a group mind, and they tell each other whom to push and whom to suppress. After all they think we’re the devil, and you wouldn’t want to give the devil any advantage.
                    And that’s why they’re evil, vile, their “art” sucks and indie is replacing them. It’s not murder, it’s suicide.
                    Me? I just don’t care. It doesn’t matter anymore.
                    But in retrospect, Sarahs are slower than Oxen.

                    • But in retrospect, Sarahs are slower than Oxen.

                      Not slow. Science Fiction writers make their livings off of telling stories about conceivable futures and for a healthy mind some habits of the petty mind are simply inconceivable.

    • You know, Rose, I have yet to see you apologize and retract your libelous accusation that Sarah — a first-generation Latina immigrant, by the way — is rascist, homophobic and sexist. That goes WAY beyond any minor inaccuracies about you, don’t you think? It’s unlikely you’ll get any traction until you apologize for THAT and stop obsessing on yourself.

      As for the panels, your scheduling shenanigans went on for several years prior to the ones you mentioned. And *I* was your contact for scheduling, not Sarah. She made that clear on multiple occasions. I personally emailed you multiple times with corrections to her bio (including an award-winning start to a new series at one point), with nary a change to the programs or the programming. We were only available for one day the last few times we attended as a *result* of your insistence on scheduling her on beginner panels, not the other way around. At any rate, there’s little point in discussing it with you NOW, since we no longer attend MileHiCon.

      If it wasn’t intentional maliciousness, maybe it was just sheer stupidity or gross inexperience? Do you know what happens when you put a seasoned pro on a panel with beginners? After the introductions, all of the beginners do one of two things: be quiet and act cowed, or act hostile and try to prove that they’re just as good as the seasoned author. Neither option makes for a good panel, and any programmer worth their salt knows this.

      If you’re not prepared to make apologies for your rude accusations, I don’t think we have anything further to discuss.

  11. Never been to a con. All those people would be too overwhelming. I have trouble at our local home show at the fair grounds. Think we’ve been to the local county fair, maybe 3 times, when the kid was small. Just too many people.

    • “If I can whack you with my cane, you’re too close.”

      Even seeing crowds in movies makes me twitchy.

      • At one time my goal was to own enough land to post the boundary: “If I can hear you I can shoot you.”

        Sadly, the ongoing debasement of our courts renders that improbable.

        • Sign posted on a farm fence “I have many guns, a backhoe, and 50 acres in which to hide a body. Do you really want to trespass here?”

          • Pigs are better than a backhoe. They leave less evidence behind…

          • *cough*
            I use to work at a cemetery. With the right timing, I could hide the bodies. (hint: you don’t open up a fresh grave and bury the body on top of the casket/vault. the ground will settle wrong)

            As TRX says, pigs are good too. I know people who own pigs.

            • Suddenly occurred to me that I know somebody that has a whole pig farm. [cue evil laughter]

              • Taking a dire serious turn, one of the really big serial killers in IIRC California managed it that way.

                They got him on two deaths. They found one tooth from one guy, and a chunk of bone from another.

                He would do the “work when you’re in jail” thing, and gosh every time RIGHT before payday the guy would run away and vanish to human knowledge.

                Took them like 20 prisoners to figure it out…..

          • Somebody tried that, with a friend’s Caterpillar. The deceased was liked a lot more than the perp, when he was missed, somebody came checking. The last I heard of the perp, she wangled a long term in the Oregon Loony bin.

            Paging Nurse Ratched…

          • I knew a fella in Texas with a few head, who had a halal butcher come see him. They somehow got on the 9/11 events and the butcher was all about how they would win and praising the ‘martyrs’ etc.
            Buddy told the butcher “In this heat, in very little time, a body denatures so fast, there is no DNA left for identifying the body, and within a short time the carcass is gone to the pigs and coyotes. By the way, I am currently armed and feel you’ve threatened me, I don’t even need to hide the body, but still might go for feeding the feral pigs.”

        • “Dog bites, owner shoots. Do you feel lucky?”

          Actual sign. Though I try to encourage hoplophobes to post those large neon school signs “This is a Gun-Free Zone” on their homes.

  12. > they decide to drop you,

    You’re no longer with Baen?

  13. WP Delenda Est.

    I have noted several comments here today which did not get emailed to my WP Comment folder, in spite of my having clicked the box.

    Since the WP malfunction of last week I have received several emails of comments which failed to include the comment or the commenter, merely that to which they were replying, Sic:

    New comment on According To Hoyt

    commented on Fun House Mirrors, Reprise.

    in response to cspschofield:

    Do SJWs qualify as people? Not sure how you’d neutralize enough bile to make ’em edible…..

    While the flaw may be in my email account, there is a more probable conclusion to be reached.

    WP Delenda Est.

    • Unfortunately the reliability of email is now so poor I am more surprised when something makes it through than when not…

      It worked pretty well until every hop started doing their own determinations of what qualified as spam, often with tools they didn’t understand. And since everyone’s default was “yes, it’s spam!” getting a message to someone via SMTP was about as useful as shouting at my keyboard…

    • thephantom182

      WP is F-ed. The little bell thing up in the right hand corner is supposed to have updates on comments, but it is so often wrong I go and check manually most of the time. The e-mail alerts, pfft. A day late, sometimes.

      • I had one from RES that is not in the notifications, and only found it because of the quote of a portion of my reply caught my eye when reeding the comments rss feed.
        all sorts of things seem a bit off lately.
        Email.
        WP (well, when isn’t it?)
        Text messages.
        Internet streams.

    • Yes. Have noticed that lately too. Have had to click on comments to then search for the answer that seems out of place to back trace the comments. Sometimes the preceding comments show up further down in my email, sometimes not. Older comments/emails are generally first in the list. It is a recent development.

  14. thephantom182

    Rose Beteem. I googled her. (after correcting for wrong spelling.) Seems like exactly who you’d expect to be running an art museum.

    Every time I go to an art museum, I think it can’t get worse than the last one I went to. But no. It CAN get worse, and it does.

    Thanks, Rose.

  15. Is there any con similar to LibertyCon in the West? I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the two I’ve attended. I wanted to go this year… but I blinked and it was sold out. I live in Reno so cons in California would be easy. But I’m a libertarian Californian living in exile. I really hate going back.
    LTUE is really a writers con, but at least Larry is always there.

    • As we talked about up-thread, TVIW (the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop) will be holding our next symposium in Wichita KS, November 10-15. These symposia are decidedly not SF conventions, but deal with interstellar exploration in many different aspects. However, there are usually (always, so far) SF authors in attendance and even occasionally presenting. We’ve had Les Johnson, Sarah and Dan Hoyt, Chuck Gannon, Allen Steele, Larry Niven, Greg Benford, Ted Roberts, and undoubtedly others I’m forgetting, in attendance at various of the symposia. It’s still early days so registration isn’t open yet, and the roster and schedule is still being assembled, but you can follow it by going to tviw.us and looking under Interstellar Symposia for “2019 – Wichita KS.”

    • There’s been talk of trying to get a HunCon or LibertyCon West going for a while now. The difficulty is location, and finding people who have the time, resources, and knowledge to take the project on. I’d nominate my “second-home” con, but 1) it is pop-culture and 2) this isn’t an easy place to get to by air unless you are coming from Dallas.

      • Organizing a con takes time, passion and organizational skills. I’ve only got one of those.

        Nevada is slowly morphing into Cal-lite. I’d imagine Texas at least still has the right attitude, Maybe not Austin.

        • Truer words. It’s also not a one-person job. Speaking of which, scheduling con-speakers isn’t a terrible challenge, if the only limitation is “I can be there on X day between Y and Z” and they return your calls.

          Crazy making is the panellists and volunteers who simply no-show, or call to change their time 2 hours before scheduled to go on.

          Though I suppose if one is a scheduling team, with multiple people responsible for the same track, it can get hairy.

        • Dallas is good at least until we get californicated.

      • I like this idea, and if you stuck it in Denver or Dallas, I would definitely be game.

      • I would second equestriaverse’s motion.

        Although I think there’s a bunch of us in West Texas. We should see about meeting sometime.

  16. I miss cons. I missed the cons I used to go to-it was one of the few social events that I could feel like I was with My Kind Of People.

    I flirted with a girl between margaritas and watching Star Wars (the original, accept no substitutes) on Laser Disk at BayCon 2008. I got a chance to spend a whole weekend with my girlfriend (who cosplayed!) at SiliCon 2005. I went to some great room parties and had some wonderful times and met some interesting people.

    But, now?
    FurtherConfusion-last weekend, in fact. Worked it for a few years with the girlfriend I was with at the time. Won’t go back even if you held a gun to my head. The Furry community has changed in ways that have gone past toxic and is an EPA Superfund site. God knows I wouldn’t go there and take off a single piece of clothing or touch anything without gloves.
    DunDraCon-All the gaming now seems like either Pathfinder or versions of FATE. I don’t…mind FATE, but Pathfinder, especially the 2nd Edition, is on my “not a big fan of it” list. I’d want somebody to run a few of the classics, hell something that is even reasonably recent.
    PantheaCon-Pagans and their ilk. A girl that goes there is utterly beautiful, but empty beyond belief. If I had to see her again, after a few long years of realizing that I was just a bee in her hive-and a very expendable one, I would be very depressed. And, the hotel the con is at has shitty bars to get drunk at.

    All three of these are on the same weekend (Memorial Day), so I’ll talk about them together-
    BayCon-Once upon a time, my dream goal was to hit a certain level of pay at work and organize a BayCon room party (I was thinking of a FOB somewhere in a military sci-fi universe).

    Don’t have that dream now.

    They’ve moved to the EscherCon hotel (they were there one year and the floor layout was WEIRD), and there’s nobody there I want to see or hear or watch. David Brin? When was his last book of anything that I read? (Kiln People, 2002.) The dealer’s room has migrated to Fanime, because Fanime actually has traffic.
    KublaCon-Gaming con, and not a bad one. Same problem as DunDraCon-lots of Pathfinder and FATE gaming. Great dealer’s room and I usually go there on Sundays.

    Both of these cons have done something that I have been suggesting for years-you buy one membership and you can attend both conventions. It’s $100 and if I was going to both, I would be very tempted. But, I’m not going to, because…
    FanimeCon-The biggest con in the Bay Area for the Memorial Day weekend, accept no substitutes. The issue is that it’s an anime con, and anime cons tend to be…topical events. Unless it’s a huge meme or classic, you probably won’t see anything five years or more old. Huge dealer’s room, and there’s some things you probably would have seen at BayCon a few years ago, but they’re here because there is more traffic. I usually go down on that Friday night, hit Fanime on Saturday, and go home on Sunday and stop at KublaCon.
    Crunchyroll Expo-Went the first two years, and…it isn’t being run by people with a clue. Anime show, strictly PG-13 anything (except Yaoi) and they’re charging DragonCon costs for a convention that is more-or-less dead at 4pm on Saturday afternoon, on the same weekend as DragonCon. Unless they surprise the hell out of me, I probably won’t go this year.

    I MISS cons, and I miss the people that I knew there. I will not miss what has been left, or trying to satisfy the people there that I had to satisfy.

    • You’re in California, right? As a southerner, it doesn’t really surprise me that cons on the left coast seem to be growing rapidly in suckage over time. What you may want to do is talk to other disaffected fans of various types and see if there’s enough interest to state an alternative con that will cater to the desires of those not of the SJW persuasion. I think the LibertyCon organizers would probably be happy to give advice and suggestions to anyone hoping to emulate what they do, elsewhere.

    • Take a look at what Alma (TXRed) said in a post at 3:32 PM. just above yours…

    • > EscherCon hotel (they were there one year and the floor layout was WEIRD)

      …and?

      https://www.mcescher.com/gallery/back-in-holland/relativity/

      • Was this con in NY or NJ? If so I used to attend when I lived in NY.

      • You could be on the second floor, walk down a hallway…and never change actual altitude, but be on the fourth floor. The numbers seemed to change depending upon the schizophrenia of the person putting up the signs. And, the layout was the sort of wrong that didn’t make any logical sense.

        • There’s a hospital in Little Rock like that. It’s on a fairly steep hill, and sections were added on over time… and each section numbers from the ground.

          “It’s not a problem, everyone who works here knows where everything is.”

          • I can see that. The problem is…it’s on flat land.

            I can only assume that someone involved used a heroic amount of drugs.

          • Sacred Heart Hospital downtown here in Eugene was built piece by piece throughout the years. There are sections that are on the same floor, but you have to go another floor take a couple of turns to another bank of elevators or stairs & go up or down. It is a warren. It has been “replaced” as the main hospital but it is still in use. As noted, anyone working there knows their way around. Those in need of medical care, not so much.

  17. Re: relationships between indie writers. We have nowhere near tapped the market that is out there. People are holding their noses and reading stuff that should be posted for help on writing boards because the people who write the good stuff can’t crank out a book a month. There is NO reason to begrudge anybody their sales or feel their moment in the spotlight somehow robs you.
    I’d just love to see the market open up to places like India and China. Do you know? I talk with a man in Bangladesh and he can’t buy e-books. His silly government thinks they are protecting a native industry that DOESN’T EXIST by not permitting internet sales.
    There are all sorts of possibilities for expansion.

    • I suspect Portugal has same issue with ebooks. We also need natives to tell us the appropriate price for those countries.

    • Why do I suspect it isn’t “can’t buy e-books”, but “can’t buy from the Kindle or Nook Stores”?

      An e-storefront isn’t rocket surgery. And there are maybe a zillion places that would be happy to do it for flat fee or percentage, and handle credit cards or Paypal too.

      • In all seriousness, the next major front in the culture war is going to be denying online credit card processing to bad thinkers. We’re already seeing it applied to the firearms industry, and obvious targets like InfoWars. I also had my PayPal MasterCard deny online donations to 2018 Republican congressional candidates.

        • It is a two-front war, as the Left has figured out how to game the campaign finance system by flooding the zone: laundering campaign donations through multiple “small donor” contributions. The first stage in this was Obama’s neglecting to turn on the flag for out-of-country donations to his campaign treasury, the second phase was Bernie-bots flooding the coffers with (effectively) untraceable online donations creating a fire-hose of small donors. The actual source of those funds might have been genuine individual socialists or it might have been an employee of George Soros, handed a hundred thousand $100 gift cards and told to repeatedly enter each as a Bernie contribution. Conceivably there were no actual gift cards, just an array set up to be posted by a bot in randomized amounts from randomized IP addresses.

          Keep in mind that the FEC does NOT require campaigns track and report on donations under $200 (amount might have changed since I last looked.)

  18. As far as I can tell, the people telling us that we need to care what so-and-so says are the extroverts who get their entire self image from what others think of them. They cannot imagine not giving a (fig) about such things. You may as well be speaking Klingon to them.

  19. “I not only don’t want to be rude to anyone, I have found that once they have no power over me, I don’t even particularly want to argue with them.
    Sadly, to many, such as someone above in the stream, they find this rude as all get out. How dare you not acknowledge them by not bothering to smite them about the head and shoulders figuratively for their stupid ideas.
    The Nerve
    Also, like pigeons and checkers etc, they consider this proof of their winning and superior wit.

  20. You know what I realized? I realized this woman — thank Bob — has no power over me. None of them do.

    Good heavens, I don’t get to this until after six at night and nobody posted the obvious?

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I’m a bit under the weather, hence my disappointing recent level of performance in the art of political trolling.

      There’s a wealth of material to work with. But nothing seems worth saying. It is like if I were badly tired or waiting for another shoe to drop.

      I hope lots of our regulars feel up to it, because it will be a long campaign to 11/2020.

      And today’s special guest adversary seems disappointing.

  21. Fwiw. Sarah, if you somehow require a nickname for me, I shan’t be offended (really, there is only ONE name that is a Real Actual Name that I might find offensive… and I’m not about to tell anyone what that one is. Ox slow. Ox not damn fool.) So call me what you like, but don’t call me late for dinner (or any other meal), thanks.

    • Orvan is easy to spell, and Idon’t need nicknames for you. You’re a friend. You’ve spent time talking to me because I was nervous. That’s a friend. You’ve stuck through thick and thin. You’re a friend.
      Also, my sons’ like you and that’s fairly rare. Particularly when both like someone.

      • Color me surprised. Not about the easy spelling or friend parts (thank you), but both sons failed to object to me… that is, really, astonishing. Really, I would have suspect “barely tolerated” over “liked” but.. what do ox know?

  22. Dang that is a pretty piece of writing. Hats off Mr. Reader. Bookmark-worthy.

  23. As a YA I was very involved with DASFA, I think I remember this Rose you speak of… and find myself wondering if your Charlie is the one I knew back in the day… he was a kind friend and guardian angel of sorts, who drove a Mustang with a chow sized dent.

  24. Well, i missed most of this partly because being depressed over losing my cat… anyway, I used to enjoy going to cons and at this point feel kind of awkward at them because of the weird semi-pro space I am in. A lot of the long-running cons have become stagnated and grey, yes, and some media cons (WonderCon, I’m looking at you) have virtually ignored the programming or it has all gone full SJW.

    LibertyCon sold out in what, six hours? And iirc i was asleep for four of them. I think they need to amend their charter…

    And the effort to put together a con in NoVa looks like its stagnated if not died.