alexandraerin: (Default)
News For Today

Tentative WisCon programming stuff is out now. I am on the Shakespeare Got To Get Paid, Son panel on Saturday, one on self-publishing and one on cross-promotion on Sunday. I've put myself forward for the Long Tail panel, which was listed as needing volunteers. That's also on Sunday. If I'm not placed on that one I'll still use the SGTGPS panel to share my "there's more money for each individual writer who writes for smaller audiences" theories with the world. That's one panel on Saturday, two or three on Sunday. That's probably good. There are a lot of panels I might like to be on but these are ones that I feel I have a lot to offer on.

I also just scored my plane ticket to Madison. $79. Hell yeah. I haven't bought my flight back yet because I AM NEVER COMING BACK FROM WISCON!!!! No, actually, it's because I'm going to be flying out to Hagerstown for Jack and Sarah's wedding reception and since we're all going to be at WisCon together we're going to try to get the flights home coordinated.

Also: Volume 2 starts today.

Personal Assessment

Feeling okay. Slept six-ish hours. After reading a peer-reviewed paper in a noted medical journal this morning, I've decided to add deep breathing exercises to my repertoire of techniques for both diminishing anxiety and reducing bodily fatigue.

Dreams From Last Night

Very strongly inspired by Deathless (holy shit, Amazon's almost sold out... way to go, Cat!), involving Baba Yaga. Also, I was building and selling bicycles again. WTF? I think this is my subconscious's way of saying "Fuck you!" after all those times I said that I don't put much stock in the whole dream metaphor symbolism thing because after having a noticeable pattern in my dreams involving something so random and unrelated to my life or interests I can't help waking up thinking "BUT WHAT DO THE BICYCLES MEAN?"

Plans For Today

Obviously for volume 2 launch day that's my primary priority. I'll do the whole work days thing for the rest of the week.

Tuesday

Mar. 29th, 2011 02:32 pm
alexandraerin: (Default)
What, this is still sitting in my browser? Dang, I thought I posted this already. Guess I'm still a little spacey.

News For Today

My plans continue to take shape. I've decided to slow down the pace of going over old chapters of Tales of MU. I had planned on doing four or five a day for the purely arbitrary reason that it would let me get the first book done (and ready to go on Amazon and Smashwords) in about one working week. I can do that many in a day but I think a little more attention to detail is warranted. I'm going to set it at two chapters a day. I'll do more if I'm on a roll.

I think this willingness to adjust my plans rather than let them fall apart when reality diverges from expectations is a sign of maturation. I'm taking into account the possibility of a need for adjustment when I consider how exactly to run the monthly back-up feature, which is an idea that excites me more the more I think about it.

My brain keeps developing Untitled Fantasy Novel during the down cycles, which is good because I'm not sure it had even a modestly-sized book's worth of plot in the original storyline. I'm calling it a novel but it's more of a mosaic or tapestry story. It's going to end up being a very "meta" story in some ways, one of those stories that's about stories. That will probably only increase the resemblance that prompted Jack to remark "Reading a lot of Pratchett lately, love?" after reading the first chapter, but let's face it... there are worse influences one could show.

It's not a MUniverse story, but it's part of what might be termed the MUltiverse... within walking distance, we might say. I've put so much work into the worldbuilding of MU that it seems silly not to make use of it, to re-engineer the wheel again when it comes to populating a world with elves, dwarves, gnomes, ogres, and the like. Those who wish TOMU were more of a traditional fantasy adventure story might be more satisfied with UFN... or I don't know, they might simply continue to be disappointed that TOMU isn't what they want it to be.

Personal Assessment

So, I got not quite six hours of sleep last night. Kind of disappointing, considering how genuinely sleepy I was when I went to lie down. But I feel okay, so maybe it's all I needed? I don't know.

Random Links

Catherynne Valente's announcement of Deathless's availability, accompanied by an awesome picture by Seanan McGuire.

Also, I give to you the greatest Twitter hashtag ever.

Plans For Today

Today is workday 1A: work on final chapter of volume 1, write a couple of FIMs.

Full task list:


  • Get major structure of TOMU chapter in place.
  • Write some FIMs. At least one's going to be another piece of Later Days, which my brain is also shaping on the down cycles.
  • Answer emails - got a few of these.
  • Fulfill order(s) for The Gift of the Bad Guy.
  • Go over next two chapters of old TOMU.
alexandraerin: (Default)
A friend of mine is preparing to cut the umbilical cord of cable TV and go all internet, something that I did quite a while ago when I felt like my TV-consuming life was becoming unmanageable. I suppose it helps that I've never been the sort of person who needs (or necessarily wants) for something to be on "in the background" or just to provide movement and noise at the periphery of my consciousness (my consciousness takes care of that for me, happily).

At the same time, on [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna's meditation on why she doesn't watch the Academy Awards (which is insightful in its own right), I stumbled across this gem of a quote from her in a discussion within the comments:

life is short--too short to force myself to watch things on TV that I don't find pleasant


I don't really have much to add to that, except that sometimes it seems like more people could stand to learn this. I'm not talking specifically about people who watch "so bad it's good amusing" fare, but people who watch things that frustrate and disappoint them. Some of the things that I do watch (The Cape) I have pretty low expectations of, but I wouldn't watch it if I didn't enjoy it.
alexandraerin: (Default)
So, I promised to make a post about Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Needs More Names Cooney's novella The Big Bah-Ha.

The best review of it (and the highest praise for its author) that I could offer have already been said in the introduction to the book by Nicole Kornher-Stace. Specifically, the first three paragraphs. I'm just going to excerpt some of the key ideas here:

There's a phrase one sees bandied about, time to time, concerning writers. Good solid workmanlike prose. Reading the writers this phrase is rolled out to describe, one comes away with a vague impression of bricklaying, or stonemasonry...

While off in the corner, other writers, writers like C.S.E. Cooney, have got convention in a headlock and are gleefully tearing out its stuffing by the fistful.


You can see why I like her so much, no?

I reviewed a Cat Valente book one time by pointing out the number of things she'd done wrong, the number of accepted storytelling conventions she'd ignored... not "subverted" or "inverted", but in a truly subversive act she just quietly ignored them. This is another story like that. I mean, it's really nothing like Palimpsest except in the sense that they're both barrier-smashing works and they're both quite good, but a book that defies convention is almost by definition a book that is good in a way that other books aren't.

What's it about? Well, I'm not going to tell you. Never trust a synopsis. Any story that can be summed up in two to four sentences isn't worth telling over the course of a hundred pages.

Okay, maybe I'll let some things slip, but I just want to get this out of the way: no, this isn't like The Stand. And it's not like that TV show Jeremiah, or that bit of Randian masturbation The Girl Who Owned A City. Yes, it has a plague. Yes, clearly supernatural figures come out in the aftermath of what was seemingly a mundane plague. Yes, that plague wipes out all the adults leaving only children behind. That doesn't mean that this story is like those stories.

This is the other reason you should never trust a synopsis. By the time you've shaved enough off of a story to fit it into a nutshell, what's left is going to look an awful lot like things that it really couldn't have less to do with. If I were to name authors whose works this story put me in mind of, the first one that comes to mind is Clive Barker. Did Clive Barker ever write a story about the survivors in a post-plague world? Not that I ever read. But he wrote things that are more like this story than any ten stories you can name that do have a plague-ravaged earth in them.

Stories aren't about what they're about. They only seem like they are because so often they're following the same formulas, the same playbooks, and so if you know that a story contains elements X, Y, and Z, you can infer that N, O, and P will happen. Maybe it's reassuring. The Big Bah-Ha is, strangely, a very reassuring story in its own way by the end, but it doesn't give the audience what we expect, what we maybe think we need from it, and that is part of what makes it worth reading.

Here is something new under the sun, and it's not just new, it's good.

The introduction classifies it as a a katabasis story; that is, a hero's journey down into the underworld, and it's got that in it. It could also be classified as a post-apocalyptic story. Or maybe a mid-apocalyptic one. Now roll those two ideas around your head: the world has ended, or is ending, and the protagonists of this story stop what they're doing to descend into the underworld.

Now, doubtlessly anyone who's read much fantasy adventure fiction has some ideas of how this might go. Apocalypse + underworld? Maybe the forces of heaven and hell are making war over the earth, and in hell there is some kind of super-weapon, or grail-like token, or some imprisoned soul who can put things right, end the fighting, or force one side or the other to retreat. Awesome story, right?

Yeah, no. That's not this story.

The world is full of stories like that, but there is a curious dearth of stories where the world ends and stays ended, where the hero dies and stays dead, and where life goes on, which is really what this story is about. It's a slice of life. We don't see the beginning, though What Has Gone Before is conveyed fairly masterfully to us throughout the text. We don't see the ending, though it's in sight. This is like A Day In The Life Of story... only it's A Day In The Life Of an idiosyncratic gang of urchins playing in the ashes of a world vacated by adults, waiting for the days when each of them comes of age and is claimed by the plague that killed their parents. There's no reassuring glimmer of hope that maybe the plague died off with its first round of victims, because the story begins as the oldest of their number has died from it.

It's A Day In Her Life, too. A Day In The Life of a plague victim who finds herself in the antechamber to eternity in a world that's gone horribly wrong.

And still there is a conflict and there is a resolution and everybody goes home (for certain values of "home") happy (for certain values of "happy").

I don't want to mislead any readers into thinking that this book gives an incomplete glimpse at its world. It is a very complete glimpse into a very complete world, with a history and mythology all its own. So little is belabored but so much is shared.

Lest anyone think that I'm recommending this book solely because it is unconventional, I'll say again, shortly and simply: this is a good book. It is well worth the modestish asking price and the time it takes to get through it.

The Big Bah-Ha is available as an e-book from Drollerie Press, with advanced orders for print editions available.
alexandraerin: (Default)
This one's really not that easy to do. I have a pretty good life. There are parts of it that could use some improving, but they are by and large improving. Anyway, I'm sitting here typing this at the dining room table in a condo in a lovely little town outside of Tampa, Florida called Dunedin. I paid nothing to be here. Yesterday I was at Epcot in Walt Disney World with my parents. I paid nothing to be there, either. My parents are kind and generous with their time and the fruits of their own successes to their grown children, and that would leave me with precious little to be envious of even if they didn't have a place in Florida or regard Disney World as a sort of promised land.

I suppose I could take the description I copied for the day of "seven things [I] lack and covet" and make a list that's just seven things that I want. Wanting things is easy. As Jack Handey said, "It's easy to sit there and say you'd like to have more money. And I guess that's what I like about it. It's easy. Just sitting there, rocking back and forth, wanting that money." But that's really not what envy's about... envy requires both a direct and an indirect object. If you covet money, the money is the direct object of that coveting. For envy, the money becomes an indirect object... the person who has it is the direct object of your envy.

A lot of the things that I want, I just don't envy anybody who has them, even in general. I mean, when I find myself wanting a good steak I'm not thinking "There are people out there eating steak right now and I'm not one of them."

This is not to say that I don't experience envy. The first two items on this list required no thought at all. I just have to really stop and think to fill out seven things. If this list has any purpose, though, maybe that's it?

1. I envy Sarah for living with Jack and having known him longer. It is necessary in this case to quote a line from Cat Valente's The Habitation of the Blessed that stood out to me when I first read it (I love how easy Kindle makes it to mark and look up favorite lines): "Envy and jealousy are sisters, but not twins."

Envy is wanting what someone else has. Jealousy is not wanting to share. You can feel jealous of something that you have (i.e., jealously-guarded secrets or treasures) or something you only envy, but it's possible for there to be envy without jealously. I don't resent Sarah her seniority or proximity, and I would not trade places with her... wouldn't take away from what she has to enrich myself. I like Sarah. I admire and respect her. I hope that my happiness with Jack is able to increase the happiness in her own life. Polyamory operates on the principle that love is not a zero-sum game, after all.

But I envy her.

2. The hoopla that happens when trad-pub authors experiment with crowdfunding. This is occasionally somewhat or even very irrational, as among the reasons why I've forged the particular path that I have is a lack of desire/ability to deal with certain hooplae at the outset. There are good, solid reasons for me to move towards brighter spotlights at my own pace. But emotions are only ever reasonable by coincidence, and it usually only takes one or two Respected Names making a comment about how an experiment only worked because the experimenter had an audience, or it didn't work despite the experimenter's established audience and therefore crowdfunding is disproven forever, or invoking the need for gatekeepers to protect us from the 90% of everything that is crap* for me to start resenting how little attention is paid to the truly indie efforts.

(*How does the rest of the internet work, then? There are no editors and publishers overseeing the internet and yet we all find sufficiently entertaining entertainment on it.)

This shaded over into jealousy exactly once, and it felt ugly because it interrupted (if only for a moment) me feeling happy for a friend.

3. People who didn't inherit the hereditary hairline from my mother's side of the family. It meshes well with my already-established love of hats and it's inculcating in me a love of wigs that I'd probably keep even if I found myself the lucky victim of a drive-by scalp transplant, but it's decidedly inconvenient for someone whose womanhood is considered to be up for debate. This is envy and not mere covetousness because I really do envy people who have the kind of hair I would want.

4. Anybody I see using a smart phone with a full physical QWERTY keyboard. I used to resist the idea of on-screen touchable keyboards pretty fiercely. I got a chance to try one and found that it was easier to use than I'd expected, and I extrapolated from that experience that once I got used to it I'd be able to write on one as easily as I can with a physical keyboard. So when I lost my Pre... and wasn't interested in replacing it with another of the same for a variety of reasons... I jumped at the chance to get an Android-powered phone. The one I could get for free with an upgrade credit didn't have a keyboard. I thought it would be no big deal, I even considered it a plus since the lack of a sliding or flipping mechanism meant there's that much less that can go wrong with the phone, physically... but in the weeks that have transpired since then, I have found that no amount of practice makes up for the deficiencies of the on-screen keyboard and every time I see somebody sliding out a keyboard on a similar phone I find myself wishing I'd held out for that.

5. Visual artists. It might take a lot of practice and discipline to be a skilled artist, but no amount of either would be enough to make me even a serviceable one. I took elective art courses all the way through high school and learned quite a bit of basic theory and technique, but as for getting any actual physical results out of that learning I have some specific lacks that are at play here: fine muscle control, coordination, spatial reasoning. There are forms of visual expression that I could engage in, but in terms of using an artistic medium to visually represent something... well, my artist friends can count on me for commissions.

6. The freedom that comes with having (and being able to drive) a car. When I tell people that I don't drive, the most common response is, "What, you've never learned?" But it's like the art thing above. I've received technical instructions. I understand the theory. It's more a matter of ability.

I've never had a doctor diagnose me as incapable of operating a motor vehicle, but it's not something I'm comfortable with doing. There are certain things that are more apt to be unfortunate if they occur while piloting two tons of metal at speeds that are some multiple of 15 or 20 miles per hour than they are when one is walking. These things include: having a powerful spasm or tremor in the arm or leg (or the whole body), a loss of the ability to distinguish right from left, and just completely spacing out.

There are good things about not driving. Chief among them is that it means there is little to no point in owning a car. But it means I am obliged to rely on other people for some things... as we all are, but there are some areas where modern U.S. culture, by and large, expects us to be self-sufficient... and that I am unable to assist others in matters of transportation logistics.

My lack of driving ability is becoming more of an issue now that my knees have started to go. Walking at a moderate pace has long been the most exercise my body would tolerate, and I have enjoyed it very much. The prospect of walking five or six miles (or more) to get somewhere never bothered me, so long as I knew I had two hours to spare doing it. Now? It's considerably less of an option. Pain is fatiguing.

All in all, I don't know that I'd choose to change this one if I could. I mean, a car would be a lot of complication and expense to take on at this point in my life. That's why I'm specifying that I envy the freedom. I don't envy the financial burden/responsibility, the need for maintenance... the reality of car-ownership. All things considered, I'd rather just be able to teleport.

7. People who can sleep without trying... people for whom "going to sleep" is an actual thing that a person can do. Even during the incredible stretch from late November through a few weeks ago when I was reporting 7-8 hours of awesome sleep all the time, I haven't been able to "go to sleep", only lie down and wait to see if and when sleep will deign to come to me.

And that's seven.
alexandraerin: (Closed forever)
Just the other day I was telling Jack how it would be kind of nice to go spend a week and a half with my parents with only my little netbook... living at the dollhouse makes it hard for me to get up and walk away from the computer, because there are a limited number of directions in which I can walk that will not just take me to another computer. After weeks of a furious work pace in multiple directions, I was looking forward to the chance to relax a little.

So, of course, on day one of my semication, my one computer becomes inoperable.

On the plus side, my famously poor pattern recognition skills have finally pieced together the common factor in every time my netbook gets virus'd: airport wi-fi. To be specific, every time the poor thing gets hammered, it's after (or in this case, while) I use the free wi-fi at Omaha's Eppley Airfield. I never caught on to this before because in all the cases before there was the more obvious common factor that the problem always showed up when I was visiting my parents. This was obviously more correlation than causation, as sometimes I'd be staying at their place in Nebraska and sometimes here in Florida, and there was no sign that anything was wrong on their network. So it just seemed like a run of bad luck.

When my computer restarted in the middle of the airport and I got a phoney warning from "Microsoft Security Essentials" trying to get me to buy Palladium Protection Pro (Microsoft Security Essentials is a real thing, but they don't shill for antivirus programs you've never heard of), it hit me that no matter where I'd visited them, each time my lappy had succumbed had been soon after a trip through the airport, or multiple airports. I'm not saying I got infected in Omaha each time, but it seems likely that an airport was the vector in each case.

I could kick myself for having taken out my lappy in the first place after having told myself (and the internet) that I was going to be relying on my Kindle for time-passing and nerve-calming during the trip part of this trip... but if I had stuck to that, then I probably would have pulled out the lappy next time, and who knows whether or not I would have made the connection between that and any infections that manifested later?

Lesson learned. From now on I'll stick to my Kindle when I'm traveling, and use my phone for those things which must absolutely be checked on/kept up with.

Anyway, I'd planned on rather leisurely beginning (or even finishing) the Little Aidan story tonight and doing some bookkeeping, get confirmations out to the people who paid for AAEs this weekend, but I've spent the past few hours de-verminating my laptop and now I just want to get to bed. The Aidan story will be going up later in the week; I'm going to press on with the next chapter tomorrow. Now that the immediate tension/suspense has been resolved, the construction posts will be returning... a development no one can welcome more than me, as it makes it the writing come both easier and faster.

I did finish reading Habitation of the Blessed during my flight, and under different circumstances I would have already posted a review of it. I would like to share my thoughts about it by and by, but for now I'll just say that it is a wickedly funny book. Humor is not its only or even chief virtue, but it's one that I suspect goes remarked on less often than its other ones, in the same way and for the same reason that the wisdom and beauty which twine themselves through Douglas Adams's novels aren't often remarked on. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy would not be as enduringly popular if there weren't a good deal of sense running beneath the surface of its more obvious sense of humor, and the first book of the Dirge For Prester John trilogy wouldn't work as well as it did if there weren't an incisive sense of humor running beneath its insightful sense of everything else.
alexandraerin: (November)
...but in fact it's a few links that are related in my head.

Last May, I visited an art gallery in the awesome little community of Dunedin, Florida. There are many things that could be said about Florida, but among them is that there's a lot of passion for art there. It may not be uniformly represented across the state, but there are enclaves and communities and so on. One of the exhibitions there had to do with found objects, I believe, and one of the artists was Aganetha Dyck. I may have linked to her work before, back when I first saw it. One of her techniques involves using objects and beehives to create effects like you can see here:


(Click for source.)
.

Back when I first became acquainted with her work, it made me think of Cat Valente's Palimpsest (this is not a hard thing to do, internets). What's an interesting confluence is that when I left Florida, it was to go to Madison, for WisCon 34, which is where I first heard [livejournal.com profile] tithenai read aloud one of the entries in her book The Honey Month, which... if my brain isn't drawing the wrong connections in the wrong places... may have been inspired or gained impetus from Palimpsest.

If anybody ever asked the question, "Is blogging art? Can a blog book be an artistic work?", The Honey Month is the answer to that question, and that answer is: "Yes. Of course. What are you, ignorant or something?" I didn't think of it as a blog book at the time, or even until I started typing this post.

For one month, Amal sampled a honey each day and wrote her impressions of it, and a short piece inspired by them. And she blogged about it on her LJ, and those blog entries became a book, a rich and gorgeous and sticky-sweet book. This year she's re-blogging it, doing re-runs with extra DVD commentary.

So check out some more of Aganetha's work, and browse Amal's sweet and golden reminisces... and if they intrigue you, consider the book.

(It's worth poking around the publisher's website, too. Papaveria Press has some awesome people putting out material.)

...

Oh, and there's only a week to go, so lest I forget again:

My Valentinr - alexandraerin
Get your own valentinr

Yes, I have a Valentinr. I've always worried that these things would just be trollbait, but I'm learning to be open to good things looking for a way in.

Friday

Jan. 21st, 2011 11:43 am
alexandraerin: (Default)
Random Link

So I slept through a message from [livejournal.com profile] popelizbet last night that this morning has turned me on to something so amazing that I'm putting the link up top instead of at the bottom of this post.

Apparently, at some point when I wasn't looking, Cat Valente wrote Deathless, a novel about Russian fairy tales set in the Stalinist era. It's not out yet, but you can read a three chapter excerpt and a kick-awesome comic book adaptation of part of it online, for free.

I seriously have no idea how I missed this project up until now. It looks like it may, in fact, be the greatest thing ever.

News For Today

Regular Tales of MU service will resume Monday. I've got things just about hammered out with where things are going in the remainder of the first volume.

Personal Assessment

I slept a ton last night. I feel okay today. Moderate fog, which is to be expected after the melatonin. No idea what tonight will be like. I'm definitely going to be pilling it for the next few nights or so, at the very least.

Plans For Today

I've been piddling around with Gift of the Bad Guy. I'm going to wrap up what I'm writing there, take a hot bath, and then start working on the Blackwater Province folktales that have been bobbing around my head for the past few days.
alexandraerin: (Default)
News For Today

Well, the dollhouse is now down one human occupant, which means there will be more times that I have the house to myself, which is often nice.

When I finish and post chapter 476 today, that will be three chapters in one week, and they aren't even drastically shortened... one of them approached 4,000 words.

Personal Assessment

My back's been acting up since just before I laid down last night. I had a little bit of cruddy build up in my throat when I woke up. I slept fine, but don't remember any dreams.

Random link for the day.

The Onion AV Club's best books of 2010, where Jason Heller named The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente.

Heller writes:



Tucked between her 2009 triumph Palimpsest—a kaleidoscopic fantasy about a sexually transmitted city—and her upcoming Stalinist folktale Deathless, Catherynne M. Valente quietly released a radically ambitious novel: The Habitation Of The Blessed, the first installment of a trilogy dubbed A Dirge For Prester John. As advertised, Habitation exhumes the medieval legend of Prester John, the apocryphal shepherd of a lost Christian tribe in the Orient. But as with Valente’s previous myth-spinning, she dissolves and reassembles the legend, drenching it in rich, shimmering prose and scholarly fantasy. Echoing between the 12th and 18th centuries, the tale exalts and humanizes John while casting him and his haunted quest for the divine against an epic backdrop of spirituality, historiography, monsters, magic, and Valente’s singularly blistering imagism. And things are just getting started.


Plans For The Day

Finish and post chapter 476, ring in the new year.
alexandraerin: (Cats Flying)
Well, I'm back at the Dollhouse after my time at the Doghouse... that is, at my parents' house, watching their property and dogs for them while they were away. My mother asked me if I'd like to do it regularly, but I declined. It took a lot out of me. I think I could do it again without being so drained because a big part of it was the learning curve with the dogs. I could keep them under control on walks without nearly as much physical exertion by the end of the three weeks than I could at the beginning, for instance. But spending three weeks of every month from now until spring away from my own computer set-up, my things, my cozy sleeping nook, and my beloved Mr. Dorian Mome Rath Abomination Gray just didn't sound appealing.

I got a lot of work done at the start of my stretch with the dogs, before the day-to-day routine started to wear me down, and my "work in progress" idea helped me get a fair bit done even afterwards. If I'd succumbed to the temptation to split the last MU chapter I would have had two chapters last week, but as it is there was a 5,000 word one so there would only have been a very little bit more to read if I'd done so. I spent most of yesterday resting and I'm going to need to do a bit of that today, but I'm also eager to get back to work. I've picked up a few new tools and tricks to streamline what I do, including the use of Google Documents. I looked at Google Docs when they were new, and some combination of the system in its infancy and the computer I was on made it seem very kludgy and clunky, not at all something that I would enjoy using or be able to put my trust in.

But my friends have been using it quite a bit with no complaints, and when I was looking for a medium to share my works in progress it was one of the suggestions so I ended up signing back to check it out. I rejected it for that purpose because there's no way I can see to make it "read only" to the public. But it's very nice and easy to use, and it really suits my style of writing which often involves a lot of moving around and switching between my desktop computer and my laptop at whim. Posting my work in progress via Livejournal facilitated that a bit because once I'd updated the Under Construction Post I could get that work off, but since I don't actually do my work in the Livejournal post field that involves copying and pasting and sometimes reformatting things, which isn't as conducive to switching as I'd like. From my experiments with Google Documents, it seems like I can walk away from the desktop computer to throw around a bean bag for a few minutes while I work things over in my head, and then grab my laptop and it's already there ready to be worked on some more. Win!

This is especially nice at the Dollhouse, since my laptop and my desktop are often on separate floors. Using Google docs means I'll never have to go up or down two stories in order to fiddle around with what I've written on the other computer in order to continue working on the one that's calling to me at the moment.

Aaaaaaaanyway, here's what I've got on tap for today... it's going to be a fairly light day because it's a low-energy day.


  • Make an Under Construction post for TOMU #461 and get a good start on it.
  • Work on the Tribe Under Construction post. Update Tribe if significant progress is made.
  • Let everybody know about the awesomeness that is happening at Apex Magazine under Cat Valente's watch, including the literary debut of the internet's own [livejournal.com profile] popelizbet with a long-form poem inspired by one of my favorite pieces of non-Shakespearean literature to be adapted to the screen with the aid of Kenneth Branagh that isn't Harry Potter or The Mighty Thor, and the other being Cat's targeted call for submissions for writers who are Muslim or of Arab descent to produce a special November issue as a sort of counter to Elizabeth Moon's execrable commentary on Muslims, 'Murika, and "the virtues of civilized people".
  • Optional Extra Credit: Make a post about how my long-gestating RPG project has managed to pull itself together in my head when I wasn't looking.


Edited to add: Today's been a very low spoon-count day, as I'm still in a recovery phase, but I've been surprised at how easy it was to get ~1,500 words of MU out by not sitting and focusing on it constantly. I've crossed off the MU item since I do have a good start and I think it'll be finishable tomorrow, but I might poke around more with it later anyway.

I meant to do the Optional Extra Credit task after everything else was done, but it kept eating up my brain so I went ahead and did it second. The amount of time and energy I spent trying to ignore it is the reason I stopped numbering the tasks a while ago... I guess I need to not label any of them "Extra Credit", either. Creative work comes as it will.
alexandraerin: (Default)
So, tonight I attended a panel on finding online business models for writers that work. Sitting in the front row of the audience were Cecilia Tan, of Circlet Press, a former failing trad publishing small press that is now a growing e-publisher, myself, and a woman whose name I did not get who is making some very respectable money writing fiction with male/male pairings for e-publishers.

On the panel was a woman from Book View Cafe, a collective of authors who, as she put it, "feel that someone's going to make a lot of money off writing on the internet and want to get on it." They're kind of in the "try a bunch of stuff and see what works" phase of things, which in some ways we all are. I loved hearing what she had to say, and I had a few things I wanted to tell her... in fact, we spent over an hour after the panel ended trading ideas and I hope to have much more correspondence with her in the future. Networking and marketing are among the things I need to learn. They don't play to my strengths, but they're the frontiers I need to conquer.

The other panelist (not counting the moderator) represented a much more traditional point of view. He requested he not be identified so I'm not going to say much more about who he is or what he does, but I really hope everybody who listened to his spiel took it with a grain of salt, because he seemed very invested in protecting that traditional model. It seemed like he wanted to control the terms of the conversation, by trying to take e-books off the table and declare them as part of traditional publishing, not "an online business model". I think that they can be part of a trad pub company's business model, but e-books are a medium, not a business model in and of themselves, and they fit nicely into an online business model.

I don't do enough with e-books, myself. I could be on Kindle. I could be in more formats and more stores. Any new revenue stream improves your business model, which makes it more viable/successful... so if we say you can't count that as part of an online business model then it's harder to describe an online business model that works. It knocks Cecilia Tan and the other author out of the conversation of online success entirely. It makes their successes invisible. Because I don't do as much as I could with e-books, most of my success is still not discounted, but he didn't let the fact of my existence alter his conclusions.

There were also points where I felt he was misrepresenting what people in the audience were saying in order to more easily dismiss our experiences. He also played the "Cat Valente is the exception that proves this stuff doesn't work" card, which really irks me. I don't like to keep invoking her name in these discussions because I know where we agree and where we disagree on things, having had this conversation with her, and I feel like when I give the conclusions I draw from her experiences too often or too strongly it might sound like I'm trying to speak for her, or speak over her... but the "well, she's an exception" argument needs to be addressed.

Not because she's not an exception. Any successful author is an exception. She's an exception in the trad world, too. She's an exceptionally talented author, and an exceptionally successful one. The vast majority of authors will never be published, the majority of those who are published will never see what you might call "good money" from it, and the majority of those won't make a living from it, and the vast majority who make a living won't ever live the life that many people think of when they think of the people they think of as "successful authors".

These things are true are about both worlds, traditional and online.

So how many people need to try to break into trad publishing and fail before we start saying it's a failed business model that doesn't work and that people are foolish to try? There are enough people trying that there are enough exceptions to create a glittering constellation of shining stars and we think of that, the successes, as "the book industry", but just like the actual universe, there's a lot more dark matter than stars, and even more vacuum. We judge the trad world by its successes, and the online world by its failures. We compare what a successful established author like Cat Valente can accomplish to what an untried, unpublished author can accomplish and then blame the medium when the latter doesn't measure up to the former.

So really, all of this underscores the fact that I need to do more cons and put myself out there for programming. I want to do a panel like this next year, I would love to do it sitting between the two women I was sitting between in the audience at this one. If I'm not doing this, then people are going to keep talking about what I'm doing and what I see other people doing as if they're purely theoretical, hypothetical things.
alexandraerin: (Ridiculous Owl Turtle Thing)
Seeing a little running commentary by [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna on fan fiction and authors' reactions to it made me feel like it was time to reiterate my own stance: I don't have a problem with people writing and sharing fan fiction based on my creations, but I'm not interested in reading it.

I am interested in seeing fan art, of course, and I even created a community where you can share it: [livejournal.com profile] the_art_of_mu. While this is an "official" place for it, you are by no means restricted to only putting it there. Put it up on your DeviantArt account. Share it on your own Livejournal. Add it to your personal online portfolio. Whatever. I just ask that if you're proud enough of your artwork to want people to see it, please submit it to the art community so that I cna see it, and if I find it awesome, point people to it.

I can't draw. At all. I can barely picture things in my head. Someone says "picture a rocking horse", and I get the words "a rocking horse" in my head. So it's really neat to see how people envision my character. The icon on this post is from a piece of fan art.

My stance about fan fic at the beginning was "please don't", because unlike most professional authors, my work used the same medium and channels of distribution and promotion as fan fiction. Until I established a name and a presence for myself, it seemed entirely possible that a fan version could occlude the official continuity, or engender conclusion about who MU "really" belonged to. It's hard enough to convince some people that things created on the internet are Real Things in the same way that things printed out on paper are. That's no longer a concern, though, and hasn't been for a while.

(Some people might suggest that I missed an opportunity by telling people who wanted to write fan fic to please not... it's also entirely possible that if I'd said "Sure, feel free!" that I'd have caught a number of new readers from fan fic communities. It's possible, and I thought about it. I decided that the risk outweighed the reward.)
alexandraerin: (Default)

  • Finish history lesson chapter.
  • Write a bit of flash.
  • Do some more SHN reruns.
  • Work on hook for next Tribe chapter.
  • 3:00 meeting


To-do tonight: Get to bookstore and scope out Player's Handbook 3.

In other news: [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna's Palimpsest has been selected as a finalist for the Lambdas. Today's playlist consists solely of Quartered in her honor.
alexandraerin: (Romance)
Valentimestines is an interesting time when you're in a long-distance relationship... the distance between you seems so much further, but at the same time there's an opportunity to draw closer together.

A while back, Jack sent me a package which due to snopocalypse only got to me on Friday. I chose to open it at just after midnight his time, Sunday morning, even though it wasn't yet Valentine's Day in Omaha... I did this for symbolic reasons, because I wanted to celebrate Valentine's Day with him, where he was, where I know that I belong.

I opened the package (a long bubble envelope with several smaller items in it) while on Skype with him. I wanted him to hear me open it and get my response in real time. Of course, I actually started opening it while waiting for him to log on, because it takes me a really long time to open a well-sealed package. Fortunately, Jack likes the sound of me struggling.

Inside were some relatively simple things. There was some candy: conversation hearts in English and Spanish, and a heart-shaped box of chocolate truffles that were both peanut free and delicious. And there were a couple of small antiquey looking heart lockets from a craft store.

The lockets were a huge surprise. He'd told me about the lockets when he got them, but that was a while ago and so I was surprised to find them in the bottom of the envelope. I remembered after I saw them, and after he said something that jarred my memory. I'm really easy to surprise, it turns out.

He'd actually picked them out with a specific purpose... he wanted to give me something I could put on my collar. It's his collar, actually. I just wear it. Since he didn't have the collar with him when he got the lockets, though, he couldn't work out how to attach them, but he trusted that I'd be able to. There were two of them of differing sizes... I picked the smaller one because the larger one was big enough that it would kind of steal focus, make it look more like I'm wearing a heart choker thingy than a collar that has a heart on it.

With the smaller one hanging from the front of the collar, it looks very... pet-like.

<BLUSH STYLE="MACKENZIE">Which I like. A lot.</BLUSH>

Simple things, but very full of meaning. For reasons beyond our control we didn't get to spend as much time online with each other on The Day In Question as we might otherwise have liked to, but we both count the day a success... and it can really only get better from here.




The Conversation We're Not Having Here: How much it sucks, how much it's a fake holiday, how much Hallmark invented it. See Cat's eloquent rebuttal to all this.
alexandraerin: (Default)
I'm having an interesting sort of roundtable discussion via email with my sister and one of my brothers, about reading and literature and the state thereof and where it's going. This made me look up my previous post about narrative and the increasing complexity of literature, where I noticed that [livejournal.com profile] syphilis_jane made an observation I didn't catch the first time around about how Homer's epics were shaped by their medium, which was originally oral.

She's right, of course... I was approaching the subject primarily from the viewpoint of how increasingly sophisticated art begets a more sophisticated audience which allows for even more sophistication in art, but it's important not to neglect the technical side.

I think it's important to stop and clarify that there are two or three distinct "Homers" involved here. If we're discussing the works that we know and have today, then the "Homer" we're talking about is the person who set them down, whatever his name was. There is also the legendary Homer of muse-like stature, who may or may not have existed, and there's the poet who popularized the tellings that were eventually written down, whose name may or may not have been "Homer".

She was talking about the last one. This ancient poet did not create the characters or the stories... in fact, The Iliad in particular is very obviously only part of what would have been a stock story familiar to then-contemporary. It contains a lot of what really amount to "Now, As You Know..."-type references. As [livejournal.com profile] syphilis_jane pointed out, the narrative structure is simplistic in part because it was an oral art form. In order for it to be effectively transmitted from person to person, it had to be memorable and memorizable.

Thus it consists largely of short, punchy hooks that are easy to remember and allow for improvisation. Actual tellings probably varied considerably in complexity... a gifted teller would be able to "zoom in" when he sensed his audience was interested and skip ahead when he feared he was losing them. I wouldn't be at all surprised if some of the figures who made it into the version we have today were originally ad-libbed in to a specific performance where they were locally-revered heroes.

But the underlying structure of the story was simple because it had to be in order to last. Writing changed that... its proliferation as an artistic medium changed that. The written versions of Homer's epics are identified as belonging to a specific person where "the story of the fall of Troy" or "the story of Odysseus's voyage" weren't because it contains a number of personal embellishments and unique touches that were never part of stock stories when they were a purely oral form.

There is dialogue in Homer's Iliad, but it's not exactly conversation... it's more just a bunch of speechifying. Achilles says a speech and then Agamemnon makes a speech in answer. It's all very parliamentary. Why is this? Because the lines were written for an orator and because changes in which character is speaking had to be clearly identified in the text. When poets became dramatists and started writing lines for multiple speakers they moved away from this... there's still a lot of speechifying in Greek drama, but there's also more give and take, something more like an actual conversation among real people. This was a huge leap forward in terms of the art form. You won't find characters like those of Sophocles among the works of Homer because Homer had less room for characterization.

These sorts of advances aren't limited to the interconnected world of literature and drama. Music has undergone a similar evolution... much of what we know of vocal music, in fact, grew out of the need for orators to be able to project their voices in a pleasing fashion. That the word "music" refers to the Muses demonstrates how little divide there once was between what we now regard as the separate worlds of drama, literature, and music.

Have you ever bought sheet music? Or looked up guitar tablatures online? Chances are if you did, it was because there was a song you liked that you wanted to know how to play. Once upon a time, though, this was how music was recorded and how it was broadcast. It was the MP3 player. It was the compact disk. It was the radio. In its absence, musical arrangements still had managed to travel far and wide and to last for ages, but musical notation simplified and codified a means for this to happen and thus helped bring about innovation and increasing complexity.

In 19th century America, people would buy the latest and most popular tunes from traveling salesmen who would demonstrate the pieces (some carrying miniature pianos for it), or they'd order it and the first time they heard it would be when they successfully played it. This, of course, meant that simple tunes that a person of modest talent could pick out on a piano could travel faster and further than complex arrangements for multiple instruments... and the only way to hear a band play (for any value and size of "band") was still to go see a band.

The advent of audio recording and playback meant that the only place where complexity was a barrier was at the production end... once a song was recorded, it could travel anywhere that there was a suitable mechanism for playback. New tools are lowering the barriers at the production end of things all the time, too.

Now, there is certainly something to be said for live theater and live music. There is also something enjoyable about getting together and making music with a group of people if you all have the talent for it (or if none of you do... your mileage may vary considerably in a mixed group). An interesting side note in all of this is how none of the newer forms have ever really supplanted the older ones. But innovations in an art form lead to new art forms, which lead to further innovations... such is progress.

Aside from sophistication begetting sophistication and innovation begetting innovation, there's a third element at work wherever those two are in play, and that's democratization. Innovation involves breaking with convention, which means it requires people who are willing to Do It Wrong. Insiders can innovate, and they might find less resistance to their innovations than outsiders will, but innovation is often the result of a horde of barbarians successfully knocking down the gates of culture and taking it for themselves. Anything that throws the gates open wide is going to lead to further innovation.

It's fashionable to focus on how much "unfiltered crap" will also be produced by such openings, but the cultural trends that allowed Shakespeare to produce his plays weren't unique to him. We can assume that 90% of everything played upon Elizabethan stages was crap, too.

Innovations in technology lead to innovations in form, which leads to further sophistication in art. Sophistication in art leads to sophistication in audience. Both technological innovations and audience sophistication lead to democratization of art, which leads to further innovation and sophistication.

Progress, progress, progress.

Related: I haven't had the spoons to keep up with my own work, mush less someone else's, but as I recover myself I'm looking around the net more again. [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna has written some interesting things about her experiences self-publishing. I've got a bunch of long blog posts half-written on various topics but I'll probably have more to say about this in the next week or so. There's a lot I agree with in it, but also places where we're looking at the same set of facts and have different conclusions... one thing that was interesting to me is that in reading her point of view, I realize some interesting things about my own. More on that later.
alexandraerin: (Default)
I'd honestly planned on not doing three [livejournal.com profile] s00j songs in a row for my little Meme of One here, but then yesterday we visited Epcot and rode on one of the underrated treasures of Walt Disney World, the Maelstrom. As a result, this song has been in my head more so than usual:



This song and the two preceding ones are all from the musical companions to Cat Valente's Orphan's Tales cycle. I have yet to finish the second book and meant to bring it on this trip... I have yet to finish it because it's so good I keep re-reading my favorite parts of the first half of the book and then I find myself having to start again to get things sorted out.
alexandraerin: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] s00j concert was perfectly lovely. [livejournal.com profile] s00j was perfectly lovely, as well.

I used to feel slightly embarrassed that when I thought about my favorite ones of her songs (and it must be plural, because with a body of work that has as much breadth and depth as Ms. Tucker's, it's difficult to have one single favorite), my mind invariably goes to songs that are at the very least co-compositions of [livejournal.com profile] stealthcello, (Alligator In The House, Tough Titty Cupcakes, and I believe The Notorious Salad of Doom) or are the songs she's written as companion pieces inspired by the work of [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna ("Taglio!", the entire Palimpsest album, "City of Marrow"... really, too many to name).

But of course, this is silly. Art cannot exist in a vacuum any more than fire can. Musicians know this. That's why they jam, and why they cover, and why they share. It's why it's important that authors read for pleasure, and that we experience stories in other media. Cross-pollination. Hybridization. Good stuff. The way Cat and s00j play their creativity off each other has got to enrich them both immeasurably. s00j has been premiering a song she wrote based on a painting by this artist as part of [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy's massive collaboration meme. Every song she writes has a seed somewhere. Whether it's in a random phrase someone said ("Ravens in the Library"... which just might elbow its way into a top slot in my head if I can hear it enough times for it to stick) or a painting or a book, it's still her creative genius that's grabbing the reins.

As [livejournal.com profile] s00j herself said of one of her songs that has now become a Tricky Pixie song, "it's like my little song is growing up."

So, yeah. Creativity good. Collaboration good.

Anyway, on the subject of things that are slightly embarrassing... I may have said this a few times before, but since it came up again tonight, it bears repeating (or possibly saying for the first time). If I meet you somewhere, and then you see me again, please introduce yourself and remind me where I know you from. I'm not pulling a e-celebrity diva thing, I swear. It's an "everybody's brain is wired different" thing. I honestly don't remember people very well. It isn't personal. I know [livejournal.com profile] s00j and [livejournal.com profile] omnisti when I go to their gigs because they're always doing [livejournal.com profile] s00j and [livejournal.com profile] omnisti things when I get there. If they hired a couple of other skinny white people to mess around with guitars and speakers before the concert, I'd never know. At family gatherings around the holidays and such I end up doing a lot of smiling and nodding until I catch on to who it is I'm talking to.

Knowing I am going to inevitably make a giant fool out of myself has generally kept me away from large public gatherings as an adult, once it was in my power to avoid such things. But as I learned from one of my beloved train family from back in March has taught me, it's far less embarrassing to just flat out be honest about it. So, I re-met a very nice person whose name I think she said was Aggie (that could be wrong as I didn't think to write it down until I was in the car, sadly) who was at the concert at [livejournal.com profile] bryirfox's and I met another person named Lora (I think for the first time) who heard about the concert here because she is a gamer and she reads my blog, and now that I've written about them I'm much more likely to remember who they are, though I still probably won't recognize them on sight.

This is not a judgment on anyone's relative worth as a person. It's not something I can just "try harder" and overcome... believe me, I've tried, and I'm learning tricks to get better at it. It's just the way my brain works, and the way it doesn't work.

The phrase "admitting you have a problem is the first step" is a bit trite, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. It doesn't always accomplish anything on its own, but it's necessary... you can't come up with plans to tackle a problem if you don't recognize its existence. I'm learning to use reminders (via my computer and my phone)... tonight, for instance, I had one set up to tell me to thank [livejournal.com profile] s00j and [livejournal.com profile] omnisti for bearing some wristbands to our folks at WisCon, and one to ask them to convey my personal thanks to Betsy Tinney for supporting me.

Well, actually, the first one just said "Thank [livejournal.com profile] omnisti". I spent a good portion of the concert trying to figure out what I was supposed to thank him for and wondering if he would find it weird if I told him thanks for whatever he did for me and asked him if he remembered what it was. Still learning how to make the most of this reminder thing. Getting an unrelated text message from [livejournal.com profile] popelizbet is what jarred that memory loose, since she was in charge of wristband distribution.

You folks who read this know how much I value [livejournal.com profile] popelizbet. When next we meet in person... and we will... if she's not already wearing a nametag, she's going to have to remind me who she is. Likewise with Cat Valente, who I mention roughly a million times a day. So it really is nothing personal. That's just how it is. I can be slightly embarrassed and admit it or I can live my life in terror of being terribly embarrassed by not recognizing dear friends and end up hiding from them, and by extension, life.
alexandraerin: (Default)
There's a nice mention of me in a piece on io9.com about the new trend, reproducing my advice to [livejournal.com profile] tim_pratt about patronage. As happy as I am to see my predictions coming to pass and as much as I just plain want to see other authors succeed, it feels good to get some recognition.

I've been a prophet shouting in the wilderness for a while... granted, it's mostly a wilderness of my own making as I'm fairly shy about talking to people and I'm more interested in writing than networking, but I've been working to change that.

I responded to some of the comments on the article. They haven't shown up yet... I guess they have moderation. But some of the responses boiled down to this:

1. Screw donations, these people should work for a living. If they're not making money at what they're doing, they should find a new job.

Despite the surly tone, the basic premise here is correct - there's a reason all my posts about money are tagged "what it takes to get along", and we've all got to do what it takes to get it.

But those who adopt this model are taking the essential core of the commenter's advice - taking a new approach when the old one doesn't work. If Cat and Tim fail to make money in the long run with their projects, I'll be surprised if they don't try something else.

As for the distinction between "donations" and "working for a living"... they produce work, people give them money. Everything else is details.

2. The reason people use the donation model is because people on the internet don't want to pay for things. Therefore they need to get used to the idea that they're working for free.

Again, part of the premise here is true - the internet, by and large, is about free content. People are reluctant to pay for even professional level slickly produced content. Company after company and creator after creator have tried and failed to convince audiences to stick around and pay in sufficient numbers to justify the hype this whole Brave New World has generated, even if some of them have managed to make enough to stick around.

And this is why the donation model can work. It plays to the strengths of the web. It uses how people already "shop" for content online. A serial or regularly updated short story site also plays into that, by giving people a comfortable chunk of content and getting them to come back.

3. The internet is a vast graveyard of sites that have tip jars and never make any money.

True! And the publishing industry is a vast graveyard of books that will never be published. And the TV and movie industry are full of careers that never take off and scripts that will never be produced. And even books that are published can fail to turn a profit for their publishers, just as TV shows can be shot and never picked up or unceremoniously canceled.

The strength of no other medium or genre is judged by the number of failures. The internet is only different in that those "failures" can stick around. I don't necessarily think of them as failures, myself. They're hobby sites. Maybe the creator is a dedicated amateur. Maybe the creator has a professional talent but lacks the drive to make anything happen. Either way, it's not like the web is robbing them of the success that would fall into their laps if they'd gone somewhere else with their work.

Making a living with your content online is work, and you have to work at it. You have to let people know it's out there. You have to let people know you're doing it for a living. You have to let people know that being compensated for your work makes a difference as to your ability to keep producing it. If you don't do those things... in particular if you think it's terribly uncouth to ask people for money... then you're not actually trying to make money off donations and you can hardly count your empty tip jar as a failure for the model.

4. Sure it can work, but why would an established author bother not charging? If they're a known quantity, won't people pay a subscription or charge to read?

What's "established"? A year ago I'd never heard of Cat Valente. Six months ago I'd never read her. I've heard of Tim Pratt, but I've never read him. Cat's well-known in certain circles, but a virtual unknown outside of them. That's why I make a point of mentioning her so often. An awful lot of my readers have never heard of her.

I'm not saying I should be the benchmark of who's "established". I'm just saying that there are no authors out there who are universally known. Even the biggest of big names will have people who've never chanced to open up a book of theirs.

And if you are "established", are all your fans following your every move? Do they all read your blog? Do they all follow whatever trade or genre zines and sites are going to report your new online venture? A comfortable percentage of every author's following only follows them in the loosest sense... they look for the familiar name on the bookstore shelves. How do you reach them?

Free content will get people who've never heard of you. It will get people who've heard of you but never read you. It will get people who've heard of and read you but are suspicious of paying for something online, where there's no physical product they can examine in advance and keep when they're done.

And... especially if it's the sort of content that keeps people coming back... they'll tell their friends. They'll blog about it. They'll link to it. It can go viral. It can become a meme.

If you make it clear that you have done work and you need some form of compensation for it, some of those people will pay you. If you look at the percentage, it might seem like a colossal failure, but it isn't as though all those "freeloaders" would have paid if you charged up front, and it's not as though all the people who paid would have ever heard about this work without the "freeloaders" to tell them.

I say this not as a slight against Cat... seriously, if I ever want to annoy you folks some day I'll make a twenty paragraph ramble explaining exactly why and how I love her work... but I don't believe she could begin to make a decent income if her ...Fairyland... project was depending on people who already know her work AND heard about the project AND are enthusiastic about paying for non-physical books on the internet buying into it and convincing a bunch of other people to buy into it. I think it would be a non-starter. Neil Gaiman and Warren Ellis would get a bunch of people to look at it, and go, "Huh. That sounds kind of cool." and move on. Fewer of her existing fans would feel comfortable enthusiastically link-spreading because they'd effectively be telling their friends and family to go buy something instead of telling them to go check out something groovy.

I just can't see that working.

Similarly, while the initial rush of publicity (and, one presumes, donations) came from people who heard of the dire straits that precipitated the project, I think the site will really gain legs as more and more people talk about it for its own merit... a hundred people who would never be interested in helping an author they've never heard of will still show up to read a free story that their friend told them about and one of them will donate. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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