Go be poor somewhere else

Yesterday evening I went out to get a few things done, and it was… interesting. I’m not a people person. Thus I do as much of my errand-running as I can either very late or very early, in order to avoid the worst of the crowds.

My avoidance of peak traffic times has become more difficult in the last few years due to a disquieting trend. It has to do with the lengths to which a certain segment of the population will go–and the number of people they’re comfortable inconveniencing in the process–to make life even harder for the poor.

Continue reading “A Sign of Our Times”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Don't be one of many. Names matter.

Something came to a head recently that’s been bugging me for a long time: we (Westerners, especially those in the United States) need to get a lot more creative with our names.

Recently one of my employees pointed out the ridiculousness of creepy old men who demand to be on a first name basis with the people who work the front counter. In terms of accountability or identification, a first name means next to nothing. At my company alone, if you were helped by “Jessica” that could be Jessica in Cargo, Jessica in Fuels, Jessica in Accounting, or Jessica in Parts & Acquisitions.

This is a problem.

Continue reading “Names Matter”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

You should be writing. No. Seriously.

I see a lot of motivational posters aimed at authors. You know the ones: a movie character pointing out that you should be writing. Or maybe it’s a pop culture icon. Or maybe the message is framed as a comic strip. Or maybe it’s just a blank page with the words “You should be writing!” emblazoned across it.

And while some are fairly benign, many seem designed to guilt the viewer. I don’t know about you, but I write to feel free of my daily obligations. Writing is my own world, a world free of deadlines and restrictions. The concept of feeling guilty because I haven’t put enough words on paper lately is anathema to the whole reason I write.

Why is it that we, as authors and as a society, conflate guilt with motivation?

Continue reading “Motivation vs Guilt”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Flood waters and sign

Some time back, a friend posted in a group we both frequent. She was frustrated with the flood of conflicting marketing advice for authors, and listed some of the contradictory advice she’d heard.

  1. Socialize with non-writers on Facebook. Don’t try to sell. Make friends.
  2. Advertise on Facebook.
  3. Advertise on Amazon.
  4. Forget Facebook and Amazon. Focus on Goodreads instead.
  5. Forget Goodreads. LibraryThing is the place to be.
  6. Advertise on other sites.
  7. Give away books on Net Galley.
  8. Don’t give away books for free. It invites pirates!
  9. Give away one book to entice readers.
  10. List with genre sites.
  11. Concentrate on Twitter.
  12. Forget promotion. Sign up with KU.

While I can’t stem the flood of contradictory and often counter-intuitive advice, I can offer my experiences. I spent a lot of time sorting through a veritable avalanche of marketing advice to come up with my strategy. These are my answers, backed up with research and personal experience.

Continue reading “Throttling the Flood of Conflicting Advice”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Strong Women

I have had the honor of knowing and working with many extraordinary women over the years. (Obligatory shout-out to my mom, who taught me about equality, civil rights, and treating people decently regardless of their color, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. She also introduced me to science fiction and turned me into a life-long C.J. Cherryh fan.)

Amazing women are all around us, and chances are they have touched all of our lives in some significant way. They’re public defenders who keep the innocent from going to jail. They’re courageous civil rights advocates who don’t let threats stop them from pursuing the truth. They’re extraordinarily patient, skilled surgeons. They’re compassionate paramedics.

Continue reading “International Women’s Day”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Quote from Sam Sykes on Twitter

I stumbled across this tweet the other day and found myself wondering, why shouldn’t I sneer at books that soared to popularity by appealing to the lowest common denominator? Why would I care what makes them tick?

If you’re the kind of author who doesn’t care about the quality of their work nearly as much as becoming famous, you may be thinking “I agree with this tweet! What’s the magic formula that makes inexplicably popular books so successful? And how can I apply it to my own writing?!” In that case, here’s the breakdown.

Continue reading “Tackling More Questionable Writing Advice”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Ursula K. Le Guin, one of science fiction’s most influential authors. I grew up reading her work, and her death hit particularly close to home.

My first taste of her fiction was the novelette Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight. In it, a lost child tumbles into the world of Southwestern US desert folklore and lives for a while with the trickster Coyote. As a young person fighting to survive in a disturbing, chaotic world, the tale really resonated with me.

Continue reading “The Passing of a Legendary Author”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Danger: Bad Advice Ahead

There’s a never-ending flood of writing advice out there for aspiring authors. Some of the best I’ve heard is also the simplest and the most universal, like this bit from Stephen King’s On Writing:

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.

On the flip side, there’s tons of advice aspiring authors could probably do without. Today I’m here to tackle the misconceptions and one-size-fits-all solutions, and explain why they really aren’t helpful.

Continue reading “On Questionable Writing Advice”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

In which I discuss a book I really wish I hadn’t read.

Content Warning: this post contains references to psychological trauma, gaslighting, physical abuse, and sexual assault.

Kill it with fire: the best way to unwant something.

I’ve never especially hated vampires. During the late 90s they became the new flavor of the month and lost any remaining potential shock value as villains or romantic interests. Although they’re overused and often annoying, I’ve never felt that the “kill it with fire” reaction was particularly justified– until now.

A book I just read has change my outlook, at least in regards to its specific fantasy world, and not for the reasons you might imagine. As far as appearance, they were your run-of-the-mill monsters.

But by the fifty percent mark, I wanted to drop napalm on the author’s entire fictional world. I wanted to nuke it from orbit. I wanted to watch every single one of these miserable creatures burn.

Continue reading “Kill It With Fire!”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Or, how to make sure your comments never see the light of day

Let's have some fun with spammers

Continuing the tradition of blogging about things that bug me, this week’s episode is about spammers. Not the kind that turn up in your DMs or your spam folder, but the kind awaiting moderation in your blog’s comments.

I’d also like to recognize Vowatrox, aka Avantdah– two posters who not only share the same IP address, but also a penchant for appending lengthy lists of low quality X-rated links to their nonsensical comments. Without them, this post couldn’t have happened.

Content warning: there are some vaguely offensive X-rated links shown in the screenshots for this post. View at your own risk.

Continue reading “Fun With Spammers”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •