alexandraerin: (Default)

angels of the meanwhile smallNo more placeholder cover mock-up, because Angels of the Meanwhile is now live! We’ve sent it off to the poets and authors, we’ve sent it off to the pre-orderers and donors, and we’ve found it a place to live on the web where any further sales can go directly to Pope Lizbet with no intermediaries.

Check your inbox if you’re expecting a copy (and your spam folder if it’s not there). If you’re not… well, it’s not too late to help Elizabeth or to help yourself to phenomenal writing. Just follow the link!

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write. Please leave any comments there.

alexandraerin: (Default)
Hey, folks! When I started canvassing for Angels of the Meanwhile, I knew the situation was fluid and likely to change, and it has, mostly for the better. I'll let Elizabeth describe how things stand (and tell some more about how she got here) in her own words.

Angels of the Meantime began because I panicked, and someone decided to be proactive about the worst case scenario.

In January, things were looking OK for me. I had just paid off some significant debt. My insurance had changed to a more affordable plan. 2015 was looking up.

On my first day back to work, January 5, I didn't hit a negligent driver.* In the course of not hitting him, I felt a strange sharp pain go up my right arm where it was braced against the steering wheel. Twenty minutes later it was unpleasantly tingling. Four days later I was in agony.

So I went to the doctor, and then the specialist. I had torn my supraspinatus tendon almost in two. Because it was a trauma tear to a healthy tendon, my doctor recommended surgery. Oh well. I had insurance, I thought. This will be OK, I thought.

Cut to months of insurance garbage. "We want four months PT before you can have surgery." Never mind that PT isn't recommended for trauma tears. Had I torn it all the way, they would have let me off with a month. My doctor appealed. Appealed again. Sent me to PT that made my almost unusable right arm totally unusable. Copays upon copays. Days I couldn't work because I couldn't sleep more than two hours before shooting pain woke me up and kept me there.

In the midst of this, Alexandra Erin, knowing I was out of pocket far more than I could afford, and while it was still uncertain how long this would drag on and at what expense, sent out a rallying cry to authors and artists: Elizabeth needs your help.

The response was overwhelming. Plenty of people donated money out of the goodness of their hearts, before a plan came together.

That plan is now a reality. Angels of the Meantime, a benefit eBook featuring so many of my friends who were happy to send original or reprint work, or, as Rose Fox did, donate their expertise.

Things aren't as bad as we first thought. I have surgery next week, thanks to my doctor's tireless fighting with my insurer. But I am several thousand dollars out of pocket. My maximum out of pocket is about a month's salary. I'll hit it next week. The vast majority of those bills, about $3k, have not yet been paid. The lost time since January and the time I will lose in the next two months also add up, as do the added expenses of recovery itself when your dominant arm is out of commission and you can't wash your own hair, much less drive. My local community has already been a huge help in making sure I didn't injure myself further trying to handle these basics - but gas isn't free, even though their time is freely given.

Ergo, Angels of the Meantime. Pay what you will shall be the whole of the fundraiser. Want to venture a dollar on over 30,000 words of everything from poetry to flash and short fiction to art? Every dollar helps. Want to venture more? Given the lineup below, there's a little something for everyone. And every little bit helps. Every little bit gets me closer to spending my time creating more and worrying less about who's going to get paid this month and how.

I am so very grateful to all who have boosted signal or already preordered. I am humbled and thankful for the outpouring of support already exhibited. But it's not too late. Check out the TOC below. Pay what you think it's worth, or what you can spare. Share the post, boost the signal.
You are all my angels. Many hands make a light burden. Thank you. For lifting some of mine.

*Because I didn't hit him & had no third party witness to the guy who fishtailed a pull behind trailer trying to make a turn too fast onto Sam Ridley from Murfreesboro Road until the trailer was perpendicular across my lane, my uninsured motorist policy had no coverage. I have no dispute with the UBI statute. I do hope that wherever that dude was going was *really* important. Sincerely.

So, that's where we are. Surgery is happening, and the expenses are shaping up to be less dire than they could be, though still substantial. Life has been hectic for both of us since this began, but we'e running now, and more to the point, we're running this pre-order through May 1st. That gives just over three weeks to get the word out. This is your opportunity to help, and your one and only opportunity to own this unique collection of gorgeous words. Our slate contains a beautiful mix of prose and poetry (including many pieces that straddle the lines between both), a mix of brand new, old, and out-of-print works. I'm very excited in particular to be debuting a punchy new piece by Satyros Phil Brucato, known among gaming circles for his work on Mage: The Ascension.

Though there's not a single guiding theme to the collection, be assured that monster girls, mermaids, witches, and wonders abound. Please order, spread the link, boost, make noise, share to high heavens. Anything you can give, even attention, helps.

-<3 AE

Angels of the Meanwhile Contents

Bits of Prose (Flash Fiction, Prose Poems)
  • This Is The Place Where Lost Things Go - Kythrynne Aisling

  • The Merry Knives of Interspecies Communication - Bogi Takács

  • The Choices of Foxes - Sonya Taaffe

  • Foam - Dusti Morton

  • The Sweat of their Brows - Alexandra Erin

  • The Dirty Fairy - Deborah Walker

  • Verse
  • Beastwoman's Snarled Rune - Rose Lemberg

  • Pain Shared Is Catching (For April Grant) - Erik Amundsen

  • Gorgon Girls - Saira Ali

  • This Is What It's All About - Lupa

  • Blodeuwedd - Amal El-Mohtar

  • Burning Wings (For C.S.E. Cooney) - Jennifer Crow

  • The Changeling Always Wins - Nicole Kornher-Stace

  • The First Wife - Lev Mirov

  • Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas Lost at Sea, 1527 - Lisa Bradley

  • The Secret of Being a Cowboy - Catherynne M. Valente

  • Children of the Faun and Fae - Merideth Allyn

  • Ivan Icarus - by C.S.E. Cooney
  • We Named Our Grief Irene - Virginia M. Mohlere

  • Fucking Doughnuts - Legoule

  • Allison Gross Speaks of the Worm - Gwynne Garfinkle

  • Sand Bags - Dominik Parisien

  • Hot Wet Mess - S.J. Tucker

  • These Are Days - Roni Neal

  • lis pendens - Mike Allen

  • Thread Between Stone - Bryan Thao Worra

  • Prose Stories
  • Inside, Looking Out - Alexandra Erin

  • Changed - Nicolette Barischoff

  • Fire Flight - A.M. Burns

  • The Legacy Box - Satyros Phil Brucato

  • Illusions of Safety - Angelia Sparrow

  • Note: While we've got a quite bit lined up, including some fairly big guns, I have been told there's more to come from people who are still working on their pieces, particularly from the local poetry community that surrounds Elizabeth. There are a lot of people who want to help. I'm not trying to be coy or drum up more interest by not naming names... I don't want people making up their minds based on something I don't actually have on hand yet. I just want to make sure everyone knows that you might wind up with even more than you bargained for.

Pre-Order Angels of the Meanwhile Today

Estimated Delivery: June 30th. This pre-order closes on May 1st. Note that we do not have permission to sell these stories outside the context of this single run of this single volume, so if you want this, step up name your price!

Email Address (For Delivery)
(You will be asked what price you wish to pay after pressing the button.)

Update 4/9/2015: This post has been updated to fix a problem with the PayPal form and to fix the omission of C.S.E. Cooney's lyric piece "Ivan Icarus" from the table of contents. I sincerely regret both of these errors. - AE
alexandraerin: (Default)

Angels of the Meanwhile
is an e-chapbook, a simple anthology of poetry and short prose to help pay for the torn rotator cuff surgery of poet, author, muse, and sister Pope Lizbet (Elizabeth R. McClellan). Encompassing a mix of new and previously published materials by artists from multiple walks of life who have been touched by Lizbet (or by people whose lives she has touched), Angels of the Meanwhile includes a gorgeous cover donated by the great Amanda Sharpe, new fiction by prolific creator Satyros Phil Brucato (noted especially as creator of Mage: The Ascension and the webcomic Arpeggio) along with poetry by such lights as Saira Ali, Rose Lemberg, S.J. Tucker, and Catherynne M. Valente, among many others.

Since it was first announced in early February, this project has grown from a modest effort to help a dear friend into something bigger and more beautiful. With over thirty thousand words of poetry and prose and an offer of interior illustrations on their way, we’ve had to move to a pre-order model in order to make sure the goal of raising the necessary funds in time for Lizbet’s surgery can be met while still delivering the promise of the project.

Here’s the nitty-gritty details: the book will be released on the planned date of June 30th. The final and total “print run”, such as it is, will consist of however many ebooks are ordered between now and May 1st. Copies will be sent out once and never again. All art is ephemeral; benefit art even more so.

The cost of the book is whatever you are willing and able to pay. We will be delivering the final product in a zip file that will include a PDF version (readable on any platform), a Kindle-compatible ebook version, and a generic e-reader version. All copies are DRM free.

Now, Lizbet is scheduled for surgery in mid-April. We need to raise at least $1,500 out of about $5,000 total before that*. More would be appreciated, to give her some padding for unforeseen expenses, lost income, and expenses already incurred out of pocket

Nittier, grittier details: Because of the nature of this project, all details are subject to change, including the release date, the ordering deadline, and the table of contents. We are asking for people to give money out of a combination of the desire to help Lizbet and to own a cool, eclectic collection of words. Purchasing a pre-order of the chapbook entitles you to your copies of the chapbook; it does not carry any further obligation or privilege.


Pre-Order Angels of the Meanwhile Today

You will be able to name your price on the next screen.

Email Address (For Delivery)

(Note that if you previously donated in February, you may consider yourself down for the pre-order already. We'll be contacting all previous donors in June, prior to shipping. If you have more to contribute, of course, feel free.)

*This text has been amended to be more precise about the timing of the goals - AE.

alexandraerin: (Default)
This is an update post on the status of the chapbook Angels of the Meanwhile, being assembled to benefit [ profile] popelizbet (Elizabeth R. McClellan).

I have received a number of submissions of both poetry and prose, enough that I feel comfortable beginning to assemble them and put them into some sort of prospective order. This does not mean that submissions are closed. If you would still like to be included in the booklet, please just let me know by February 20th.

Once I have a tentative table of contents, I'll get a pre-order site set up, with the caveat that the contents of the book may change at any point up to actual publication.

Why a pre-order? Some of the material that was offered has rights issues that will lapse at various points in the month of march, and some people have pledged original works that will take a bit longer to put together (for obvious reasons) then reprints. This coupled with the fact that there have been some offers of original artwork is why we've decided to do a pre-order. It's a question of something thrown together that offers nothing new and is just bare-bones, versus something that holds a greater value.

I don't feel comfortable creating the pre-order site before I can offer a tentative table of contents, but for those who want to jump in with both feet as I have done in creating this project can send a contribution to Lizbet through PayPal now... since we'll be doing a pay-what-you-can model for this, everybody who has contributed will be offered the finished chapbook.
alexandraerin: (Default)
This is an update post about the status of Angels of the Meanwhile, the chapbook I am putting together to help Elizabeth R. McClellan (popelizbet) pay for expenses related to her shoulder injury. After I make this post, I'm going to tag the previous two posts on the subject with "aotm" so the link will show you the whole history of the subject so far.

Okay, so about a dozen poets have sent or pledged poems, and I have 2 or 3 pieces of prose of varying length either submitted or pledged. There's a good mix of original/unseen content and reprints, where I feel like we can offer a solid value. I would love to have more material, particularly more prose. Again, reprints are fine, and microfiction/flash fiction is fine. No minimum length. In fact, a bunch of very short pieces to set against the poetry would be great. I certainly have no shortage of my own such work to contribute, but I would rather not have it wind up looking like my own vanity project.

I am trying to put this together fairly quickly, but some contributors are already writing new work, so if you would love to pitch in but are worried that you don't have anything on hand, please shoot me a line to let me know you're interested.

Again, I'm asking people who are interested in helping out to email me at with the subject line "FOR POPELIZBET". Poetry, prose, artwork... all are welcome. Lizbet is a primarily speculative (melancholy dark fantasy, I would say) poet herself, and so things in that vein or with a witchy, earthy, down-home vibe are particularly appropriate. Mermaids and monster girls of all stripes also very welcome, as are works about hope and healing. If you're not sure if something would fit the mix, please send it anyway. I can try to describe how the thing is shaping up at the moment, but that doesn't mean I know where it's going.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Okay, folks, so yesterday I tweeted a bit about the medical and financial plight of [ profile] popelizbet and then, once I had both a clearer picture of the scope of her problem and her permission, I kicked off an impromptu campaign to put together a chapbook with contributions from her friends and fellow writers that we could offer on a pay-what-thou-wilt plan, with proceeds benefiting her.

The details are still coming together, but there are more of them than there were yesterday.

The Situation

Lizbeth has a near complete tear of a tendon in her shoulder, leaving her in intense pain and unable to use her dominant arm. Doctors say she needs surgery to repair it sooner rather than later if she's to regain the full range of use and motion. The insurance company says they will only cover physical therapy.

She already owes $700 for an imaging scan that did not meet her deductible [Note: A previous version of this post said her insurance declined it. This was my own misunderstanding.]. Thanks to the generosity of the internet over the course of yesterday and this morning, that is now 80% taken care of.

The surgery is going to be a much higher hurdle. The procedure alone is a couple thousand, but having it means paying not just the surgeon but the anesthesiologist and the facility. She has been told that all together, she is looking at an out of pocket cost in the neighborhood of $20,000, hence the abrupt shift yesterday from "please kick in" to "let's put on a show".

Because we're going to be using a pay-whatever model (and to encourage people to keep giving while we're putting stuff together), it is my intention to offer the finished chapbook to everyone who has sent Lizbet money before it goes on sale, too. You can pitch in here.

The Chapbook

Inspired by Lizbet's characteristic outbursts of gratitude over those who have helped, I've dubbed the book Angels of the Meanwhile. It will contain a mixture of poetry and prose. I have received a number of both submissions of finished work and what I'll call pledges of interest from those desiring to contribute something new. Among those who have offered their work for inclusion are Saira Ali, Rose Lemberg, Amal El-Mohtar, C.S.E. Cooney, S.J. Tucker, Bryan Thao Worra, and Satyros Phil Brucato. Cover art has been donated by Amanda Sharpe. Other individuals have offered to help with copy editing and such behind the scenes tasks. All donated content still belongs to its creator. We are not requesting any rights except the bare right to include it in the chapbook.

The line-up of the chapbook is not set. If you have something to contribute (poetry, stories of any length, fantasy artwork), please send it or a query to with the subject line "FOR POPELIZBET". Flash fiction/microfiction is fine. Reprints are fine. I cannot guarantee to take all comers, but there's definitely room for more love. I'm trying to get a tentative table of contents or at least a roster of contributors together as soon as possible, though, to use for preorders.

The chapbook will be an electronic publication bundled in PDF, epub, and mobi formats.

The Logistics of this Whole Thing

Maaaaaaan, I don't even know. Before yesterday, I didn't dream I'd be trying something like this.

First thing is that this is a personal fundraiser. It's friends pitching in to help friends. It's a community coming together. There is no tax-exempt status involved here, no formal organization. I know that there are people who aren't in these kinds of communities who react to this kind of effort as if it's inherently a sucker's bet to get involved, but I think the people who have offered money, content, or aid have done so with the understanding that it's a gift of the heart.

If Lizbet is important to you, or if any of the kind souls who are lending their voices are important to you, or if you're just interested in paying whatever strikes you as a fair price for a mix of poetry and prose from some very talented people, this is for you. That's all.

In the interest of raising money quickly, I'm going to be both trying to get the chapbook put together with some modicum of speed, but also putting it up on offer as a pay-what-you-can preorder while it's still in production. I'm just not sure what the best platform for that is going to be, though I'm looking at a few potentials. In the interests of keeping things simple, I'm looking for a digital delivery solution that lets you upload files, then lets buyers name their price. For simplicity of accounting and transparency, the money will go directly into Lizbet's account.

I also don't have an answer for "what happens to the chapbook after the fundraiser is over?" My inspiration for this was Ravens in the Library, a physical book that was produced as a fundraiser for S.J. Tucker when she had a medical emergency. The advantage that had was that they could produce a limited run, devote proceeds from that run towards one end, and then when the run was sold out, it was over.

I don't have the resources to produce a physical book, much less to make one of good quality on short notice. It also takes a lot more poetry to fill the physical pages of a bound book than it does to create an electronic chapbook, and a lot more drawing power to sell enough to offset the production costs.

The idea of getting enough attention and selling enough e-books to fully pay for the medical expenses and the post-surgery recovery-related expenses (she's going to be without an arm for a while) right now seems like an impossible pie-in-the-sky dream, but it's something we'll have to figure out how to handle. I will make sure all the contributors know what the deal is before anything is finalized.
alexandraerin: (Default)
So, [ profile] popelizbet has had a run of bad luck with a debilitating rotator cuff tendon injury and a stonewalling insurance company. She needs surgery within weeks in order to avoid suffering a range of motion loss, insurer is only willing to pay for physical therapy, a painful prospect that translates into permanent debilitation.

Lizbet is always willing to put her now-injured shoulder to the wheel for others, but she's not accustomed to asking for help. She did allow me to create a PayPal link for people who wish to help, which I have done.

Lizbet means the world to me personally, and I know there are many artists and writers who have been touched by her friendship or benefited from her fierce and dedicated support over the years, as I have.

So again with her permission, I'm going to try to put together an electronic chapbook that will be offered on a "pay-what-thou-wilt-shall-be-the-whole-of-the-price" model. My intention right now is for anyone who has PayPaled her money to receive a copy as well, if that proves feasible, but I can't really speak to the details of the chapbook (who, when, how big) right this moment because it's just an idea and the only contributor I know for sure is myself.

If you're a poet or author and you have a piece you'd like to contribute--any length, ficlets/flash fiction fine-- please send an email to me at with the subject line "FOR POPELIZBET". If you have something lying around, go ahead and send it. If you want to contribute but you don't have anything at the moment or can't think of what you'd like to give, please send me a query with the same subject line just to let me know you're interested. I will also take artwork, if anyone wishes to contribute.

Previously printed/posted material is fine, as long as you hold the rights. Just include in your email where it was printed before. We are not asking for any rights except non-exclusive publication rights to put it in this chapbook.

Because I will only be using donated material and will be donating the labor myself, the only expense in producing this chapbook will be the transaction fees. All other money paid will go directly into Lizbet's account.

Apart from gratitude, the only thing I can offer is a courtesy link to your own website and/or literary endeavors managed under your aegis. If your donated piece appears somewhere else, we'll happily hawk it for you. I hate to be the person saying "do it for exposure," so I won't. Do it for love of a lovely person. This is not a general submission solicitation for a general market.

The general theme of this volume will be... well, right now, it'll be "beggars can't be choosers", but fantastical and fearful poems and stories are particularly welcome. I dream of getting enough material that curation into a theme will be possible, to say nothing of necessary.

Once I have some responses and some material to work with, I'll be able to work out some more details like publication/sale venue, timeframe, et cetera. There is a ticking clock element at work, so I'll ask that potential contributors reach out to me by February 20th, and the sooner the better. The line-up doesn't have to be final, but if I have a solid enough beginning to start promoting it within a week, I think we'll be in better shape.

Again, please send your submission or query/statement of interest to with the subject line "FOR POPELIZBET".
alexandraerin: (Default)
The December issue of Apex Magazine is live on the web, and it contains a special treat. Elizabeth R. McClellan, whose most frequent speculative poetry milieu might be described as "sympathy for poor devils", previously had her poem "The Walking Man Goes Looking for the Sons of John: Six Cantos" published in Apex.

She wrote a reprise on that theme that appeared in the liner notes of the album Slightly Above Below Average, an all-star tribute benefiting the Chet Atkins Educational Fund. While a worthy enough place in its own right, it seems fitting that "Sympathy for the Devil: A Duet in Two Solos" should now find its wider audience alongside the first.

"Heaven for the climate, hell for the company," said Mark Twain, but despite this and the related frequent assertion that hell has all the best musicians, when McClellan's devil is feeling lonely and soulful, he goes walking in Memphis or Nashville, or other points south. Sometimes he finds a friend, and something amazing happens.

Like much of McClellan's work, this piece is grounded in the mythic landscape of her native Tennessee, which can make it an interesting experience as an outside looking in. But no worries about intruding; as the poem itself observes, it is hard to have a private moment in a public street. It is McClellan's skill and art as a poet to make the reader feel the significance even of that of which we cannot speak and must, as Wittgenstein would remind us, pass over in silence. Maybe it's the unfamiliarity and the sense of things known but unsaid that lends an eerie numinousness to the scene.

Or maybe it's just that I personally never feel anything like the touch of the divine so much as when I'm listening to good music played by someone who passionately believes in it.

Either way, it's kind of a surprising trick when the devil turns up and makes you feel the hand of God, or turns your thoughts to what happiness there might be had in the hereafter. It's the kind of thing that sounds like it shouldn't work, like a poem that hits all the down-home beats of well-worn folk lore while throwing around words like "Photobucket" and "Google". Some people write updates of classic stories, some people write continuations, as if the story had kept going all along and no one took much notice until it was pointed out. Time has moved on, but the devil can't. Maybe that's his punishment. Maybe it was his crime. Maybe it doesn't matter anymore.

Any which way you want to take it, he finds his moments of happiness, and taking this piece as a companion t the previous one, we're left with the sense that "sympathy for the devil" in this case is not so much about understanding why a person does bad things or seeing the world from a designated villain's point of view as it's about simply having sympathy for someone whose life took a bad turn once a long time ago and who has never really recovered from it.

Apex Magazine #67 also contains poetry by Melanie Rees and Joshua Gage, along with four short stories, sundry interviews and essays, and a couple of bonus short stories for those who buy a copy, though the rest is available for free on the web.
alexandraerin: (Default)
So, tomorrow [ profile] s00j is coming through Nebraska and stopping to play a concert in Lincoln, a rare treat. This weekend she's been down in KC. Due to a situation involving the remote but unthinkable possibility of not being able to make the Lincoln concert, I went with a friend to drop in the last event of her Kansas City schedule, an April Fool's Day tea party in honor of the departed Mama Dragon. Midway through the festivities, we got a message of love from [ profile] popelizbet and the Memphis pagan folks, who were observing the day in their own way.

It was very nice to be able to see s00j at a time when she wasn't working, just spending a few pleasant and joyful hours with food and tea and good company... I think she was surprised to see us. Definitely worth the trip.

Related soundtrack:

April Fool's Day

In The House of Mama Dragon

alexandraerin: (Default)
[ profile] popelizbet has a new poem up at Apex, called "Down Cycles".

Her previous works concerning a neglected bride, an angel fallen on hard times, and a sea hag (NGL, I was disappointed when this one didn't turn out to be about the Popeye character, but Hans Christian Andersen is okay, too) have already earned her the title "The Gregory Maguire of Genre Poetry" even if nobody in the world has ever called her that.

Her M&Ms sometimes lets me see her poems before they're finished. I never have much to say about them... I don't have much poetry in my soul (not enough room; too much prose), but I confess to a touch of pride in having helped with the title of this one.

On the subject of things lyric, jewelrymaker [ profile] thegreenyear has unveiled a series of pieces that draw inspiration from the poetry and songs of some poets and songwriters of her acquaintance. If you have ever wanted to own a pair of dangly earrings that end in the word "PANIC" and bear the title "You Are Fucking Up Real Bad", now is the time.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Even Old Scratch himself has "fallen" on hard times, as shown in the evocatively titled "The Walking Man Goes Looking for the Sons of John: Six Cantos" by [ profile] popelizbet.

It's a bluesy, ironically soulful ramble through southern streets. The devil went down to Georgia, and he never made it back up.
alexandraerin: (Default)
When I started Tales of MU, I'd been trying to make fetch weblit happen for years, though I didn't have that word to describe it. I'd particularly avoided the blog format because of a feeling that a blog is a blog and what I was trying to do wasn't a blog.

I feel differently now, obviously. A blog is simply a Content Management System, and it's a better one for text-heavy applications and for casual/non-technical oriented users than most things that advertise themselves as CMSes are.

But the first popular blogging platform is not, in fact, simply a Content Management System. It's also a social network. I'm talking of course about Livejournal.

When I decided to write Tales of MU on Livejournal (as [ profile] mutales), I wasn't thinking "Maybe I'm wrong about this whole blog thing." I was thinking "Maybe the social networking aspect will pay off enough to make up for the weaknesses of the blog format."

Yeah, there was almost nothing right about that sentence. The social networking angle was huge, no "maybe" about it, and the blog format was nothing but a boon. Especially on Livejournal. I had nothing to set up and nothing to maintain. The options for monetization were limited and there was (and still is) a genuine threat that my content could suddenly and arbitrarily be declared verboten by a change in policy or in its application, but this is fact: Tales of MU would not be what it is today if I hadn't started it on Livejournal. It wouldn't have gained enough traction, enough momentum, enough support.

And you know? In the years since then, when people have asked me for advice, never once have I said: "Start it on Livejournal." I've advised people to get their own website as soon as possible, because with that comes the money and the control and the customization. But you need an audience for money, you need some content built up before the threat of it being wiped out matters (and you keep backups), and customization takes time to get right.

Most new authors/projects probably aren't ready for their own website at launch, and it's a good thing, too, because you can gain so much by plugging yourself into a community.

Being on Livejournal meant there was a whole megacommunity of people used to using the internet to read who already understood the format of my website. They could easily "subscribe" to my posts by friending me, and in doing so, they became viral advertisers as apparently some people on internet click on each others' friends lists to see what's going on with their friends' friends and interests. I don't do it. I don't understand the impulse. But as I've said, my brain does not social well. But it happens, and I benefited from that.

Now, any site with an RSS feed can have an LJ syndication that can mostly serve the same function. But you have to go out of your way to interact with the people reading you that way. When you post your stories through Livejournal, you get a notification on comments. You can reply and interact. I met one of my best friends and most ardent supporters, [ profile] popelizbet this way.

She has encouraged me, she has advised me, she has hooked me up with opportunities I wouldn't have otherwise had. I call her my Functional Muse. She doesn't specifically inspire creativity. She can, as so many people can and do. But her role as a Muse is to make things happen, to make things work.

I'm not saying "Put your post on Livejournal and you will get your own personal Functional Muse." But by seeding yourself into a social network, you might meet a patron who will help sponsor your career. You might meet someone who has their own following, for creativity or just on their blog, who will tell their friends and fans about this great new thing that they love and are sure their like-minded friends will love. You might just catch the eye of the loudmouth who's going to shout your name from the rooftops.

These things may or may not happen. They're more likely to happen the more easy it is for people to connect to your site.

Now, the subject line at the top of the page comes from a discussion I saw back in my early days of obsessive Google-trawling for mentions of my work (protip: this isn't always healthy or helpful). People were mocking the fact that I'd paid money to have a Project Wonderful ad on Something*Positive to advertise a Livejournal. I was advertising the story on the Livejournal, but this was absurd to them.

But you know what?

It worked. It got people clicking through. Not everybody liked it. Not everybody stuck around. I got more than a few comments to the effect of "I'd like this story if it were more adventure." or "I'd like this story if it were more classroom-oriented." or "This is a nice story but you ruin it with lesbians."

But as I said previously, it doesn't matter how many people don't like your story. They can't fire you. They can't drive you out of business.

[ profile] popelizbet found my work through the same set of webcomic-based ads that other people derided. She was hooked by the same stories that other people found lacking. There's a lot more to my success to her. There's me. There's other people who've helped me along the way. There's a good deal of luck, apart from the good fortune of meeting her. But I'm not at all sure I would have made it far enough for those other things to matter if I hadn't put myself in her path.

The takeaway from all this is not "Put your work on Livejournal and all your dreams will come true, eventually."

It's the folowing things:

  1. Don't get a personal site before you're ready for one.
  2. Pick your initial platform based in part on how easy it is for people to connect to you and for their friends to stumble across you through them.
  3. Figure out a way to put yourself out there. If you're too shy to flog your wares personally, take out some ads on sites with content you enjoy and/or you think would appeal to the same mindset that your work appeals to. If you're too poor to advertise... look at Project Wonderful very carefully and see if you really are too poor to advertise... if the answer is yes, get up some courage and start flogging. Some combination of the two. Join communities that exist for mutual promotion of writers, like Web Fiction Guide... not those writing communities where anybody can make an account and make stories that are hosted locally on the site. Those sites can have their uses for getting feedback, especially early on, but it's hard to attract a real following on them because everybody there is a writer trying to get noticed.

The internet is not made of islands, it is made of connections. In my previous post, I established that you don't need to appeal to everyone to succeed and suggested that this might in fact be counter-productive. Well, the only way you're going to find the audience that you do appeal to is by making sure there are a lot of paths leading into your site.

Of course, one problem that many of us have with self-promotion, whether it's through ads or otherwise, is that we feel sleazy and creepy and pushy and grumpy and dopey and doc doing it. That's going to be the subject of my next post in this series.
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 [ 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, a couple of weeks back, Jack told me that he hoped I had the Mackenzie/Gloria fight scene wrapped up before WisCon because he didn't want to be waiting for that to be resolved for a week or more. "What are you talking about?" I said to him. "Wiscon's only one weekend." And he said, "Yes, but you'll be too tired and too busy to get anything done after it."

I thought he was being silly. Of course he was actually being Jack, and even worse, right.

Tiredness and busy-ness aren't the only things in play, of course, but they're the things that stop me from noticing the other things or that render otherwise surmountable things distinctly un. My routines fall by the wayside, the little things I do to help keep track of time and what I'm doing, to manage my physical and emotional energy levels, etc. I forget the lessons I've learned about how not to beat my head against the wall all day long.

One of those lessons is not to put off blogging. When I have stuff in my head that needs to get out, I'll get everything done faster by letting it out, not saying "Okay, I'll finish this other thing than get to that." Sometimes it happens the other way around: if the story is raring to get out, blogging can wait. I've always got something to say, something to write. It's just not always in the order I would prefer it to be.

So, never mind the preamble above: this is my Great Big Wiscon Post. It probably won't be the last one I make that touches on Wiscon events, but the other ones will likely be smaller, or more about general things that were inspired by things I heard on panels.

One of the most amazing things about Wiscon was the number of people on my own informal "Must Meet" list who told me something like "I was hoping to get to talk to you!" when I did meet them, and the number of people I was in awe of who I heard/read talking about grappling with impostor syndrome... it was a bit of a revelation.

I did not sign up for any readings or panels this year because I wanted my first year to be "recon", because that helps me manage my anxiety. Fear of Doing It Wrong is one of the major components of that anxiety. When I'm someplace new, without clear instructions and expectations, I flounder and flail. I'm getting better about that. Actually going out, going to new places and doing new things is helping me to get past that. But part of that anxiety, at least as it connects to things like cons, is impostor syndrome. I'm afraid that I don't belong, or that others will act as though I don't. I always figured that this was a function of how I've come by my success, of the relatively small amount of attention and acclaim I've garnered from the traditionally recognized sources of such.

But people who've followed other paths... people who win awards, people who are blogged and tweeted about much more widely than I am... have the same misgivings.

Mary Anne Mohanraj, who was one of the guests of honor this year, hugged me and told me she loved my work. I knew that. I'd heard it from her online, even. But hearing it from her in person was very different. I hadn't expected the hug. I hadn't expected to find myself eating dinner with her, largely due to the efforts of Sumana Harihareswara, AKA The Human Ice-Breaker*. I hadn't expected, basically, for her to be just another person, like me, full of hopes and dreams and doubts and second-thoughts.

I felt incredibly honored and lucky when [ profile] tithenai let our little group, including people she only knew from online and people (like me) that she'd never met, hang out in her room with her after she decided she was too tired to do any more readings. I shyly asked her if she would please sign a copy of The Honey Month for Jack. The next day we hugged like three times when it was time for us to leave, and then I got back to Omaha and a few days later I found on her Livejournal where she wrote about what it felt like to realize that we were all happy just to hang out with her.

And we were. We had been. The last night of the con, which was full of Just Hanging Out, was easily the best part of it for me.

None of us are impostors... we're all just people. Some of us write, some of us paint, some of us are doctors or lawyers or teachers or soldiers or parents, but none of us are where we are because someone screwed up and mistook us for a grown-up and let us into the club and we don't have to go around thinking all the time that any minute now someone is going to notice that we don't belong and kick us out.

Anyway, next semi-connected topic: I've never really made use of my Livejournal friends list in an organized fashion. I don't go to my friends page to see who's doing what. Instead I went straight to the journals that interested me as I remembered to. As a result, there are some people whose LJs I've been reading that I considered to be at least "internet friends" but who I never actually friended, and there are numerous people whose journals I started following but then forgot about. After Wis Con, there are so many people I know I want to keep up with that I've finally learned how to use the friend list tools to construct a reading list.

I'm a little embarrassed to realize I never friended [ profile] karnythia before, since her LJ was one of the ones I remembered to check most often. I got in the habit of going there after I stopped frequenting the snark communities where I first subscribed to her newsletter, as they say dans la belle internet. It took me ten minutes of staring at my list of friends and trying to figure out why I couldn't add her to the group I just created before I realized that she just wasn't there. Well, better late than never.

Other things that happened:

  • I got officially grounded from using the stairs by papal edict.
  • I was in the splash zone of a spit-take at Sunday brunch. I don't even remember who it was, just that [ profile] karnythia provoked it.
  • I met [ profile] angelsscream and seemed to notice something awesome about her wardrobe every time I looked at her. Okay, twice. But that was a sweet bolero jacket and awesome shoes.
  • I found out that Circlet Press has a paranormal romance imprint, right as a relevant idea of mine has been shaping up.

*If somebody told me that Sumana is under a geas to introduce everyone in the world to everyone else, I would believe them. Or maybe she invented the handshake and gets a royalty every time someone does it? Regardless, I love her a bit now.
alexandraerin: (Tinkerbell)
The advice in yesterday's placeholder about checking back Tuesday if you didn't want to keep refreshing was because that was the day I ~knew~ I'd have decent internet access by. As it turned out, the wireless here in the Concourse Hotel runs fabulously and there are a bunch of places nearby that also have wifi. I didn't know that yesterday, though, and my travel experiences are teaching me to never make those kinds of assumptions. It worked out well.

I understand there was a spate of impatient comments on the placeholder, but that's why I don't read moderate any more. Imagine if, after settling down in the comfy hotel lobby chair with my laptop and getting connected, I'd gone and read and responded to those comments. Whether I sat there and figured out how to be polite and conciliatory, or tore into the commenters... or whatever... it would have been far less productive than just getting the story posted.

Anyway, I'm at the end of a very long day (started at 6 a.m. Eastern time, after not much more than four hours of sleep). I'm alone in a hotel room at the moment, which at some point in the night is going to fill up with the folks from Tennessee. The con proper starts tomorrow, and I'm very excited... I came so close to canceling my plane tickets so many times, I was convinced nothing would come of being here... so far things have been fairly awesome. I'm kind of surprised how many people know me here. I had a bit of an interesting experience of introducing myself by first name to someone before we got our badges, and then finding out she knew my work after she saw my full nom des tubes on the name tag. I also looked right through my friend [ profile] shadesong two or three times before registration opened. My facial recognition software needs an update.

So, I'm here. If you're here, too, feel free to say hi. Not right this moment, that would be kind of both rude and freaky since I'm shut up in a hotel room and about to get ready to go to sleep. But if you see me in the halls... I have a Tinkerbell glowy clip on my name tag and I'll be wearing my Amazing Technicolor Dream Skirt at the Gathering tomorrow (you'll know it if you see it.)
alexandraerin: (Default)
...the less time and energy I have to blog about them. How is that fair? :P

I'm wrapping things up on what has been an incredible trip. What started off as "you should come down in April for Daughters of the Moon" expanded to encompass nearby events on both sides of that weekend: there was an Ani DiFranco concert the week before, and then a [ profile] s00j show the weekend after. That old saying about biting and chewing might be applicable here... I was so drained by this weekend that I could hardly keep my eyes open at the concert.

Okay, I couldn't keep them open... I have been informed that there are numerous pictures of me asleep in a chair, and that I was "falling off my feet sleepy" afterwards and that when I tried to get up to help with clean up it was "really super cute". I am 95% sure I was conscious for all of the actual music, though.


Anyway, it's been a good trip and... like the proverbial Christmas cracker, long and full of stuff. Amy Steinberg. Buddy Wakefield. Ani DiFranco. Daughters of the Moon, which was really an incredible experience that I can't wait to experience again next year. Brunching hard. Brunching hard with a vengeance. The tag "popelizbet makes things happen" has rarely been more manifestly true.
alexandraerin: (Tales of MU)
Hey, folks! I've been mentioning my sojourn in Tennessee since it was "upcoming"... well, now it's here and now we've got some details hashed out for a public reading. On Friday, April 23rd (that is a week from tomorrow, for those like me who are calendar-impaired) I'm going to be appearing at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center. If you're on Facebook you can RSVP to the event but such is not required. There is no charge to attend. We've got some cool Tales of MU parchment stickers and WW2D? bracelets (while supplies last, especially on the bracelets).

The event will run from 7:30 to 9:00. If you can't make the beginning, show up when you can... there'll be a little offsite after-event for hanging and/or chilling in a less formal, more interaction-y venue.
alexandraerin: (Default) have arrived here in this apartment on Saturday, when a week before that I was arriving at the house where I'm making my new living space. Before I get on the train to head back to Omaha, I'll have spent more time here than I have in the place that I now live.

When I planned this trip it seemed like a necessary escape, an opening of the release valve on the pressures of a life that was becoming overwhelming. But that sought-after temporary reprieve has been made redundant by a permanent change in situation... it's weird to realize in retrospect that among the reasons I wanted to travel more was to get away from things back home, and the fact that I had so much travel planned ended up contributing to what became the breaking point. Yes, I know, I'm being frustratingly oblique again there. My compartments are coming down but I'm not going to be airing my dirty laundry before the wilds of the internet.

Anyway, I'm here in Memphis. I'm not doing a lot of walking. Well, I'm doing most of the writing I've done while walking around the apartment. I think best--and write best--when I'm moving. Also, my bruised backside was aggravated by two ~ten hour stints on the train inside of 24 hours and it's honestly less painful sometimes to walk around then it is to sit. The fact that I can perform the major functions of my work while standing is probably a good sign for the future... but I digress.

I'm here in Memphis. Right now I am sitting (though once this post is finished I'm going to be standing once again) in a joyously dark and empty and cool apartment, with three cats lurking somewhere around my feet. I repeat the fact that I'm in Memphis because sometime next week there's going to be a little get-together. Details are still pending. The time leading up to my visit was kind of frantic for both my hostess and myself, for different reasons, but we'll get something worked out. I'm already know I'm going to be seeing old friends and meeting some of their friends... that's already happened... but I want to make sure anybody else in the area, any readers or blog-followers, who fall outside [ profile] popelizbet's impressively large personal event horizon, who would like the chance to meet up and talk and chill know this.

So, yes. Memphis.

Oh, Lizbet just came home. The apartment is not dark and now we're going out. Life changes so fast here.
alexandraerin: (Default)

  • Write some more of the next TOMU chapter - I lost a bunch in transit to an Evernote failure but still have a good beginning. I've since switched to using my phone's email client for writing, as it's good about saving drafts. - Chapter will probably be done tomorrow.
  • Write Tribe.
  • Write a piece of flash.
  • Make another blog post.

I haven't done much more than sleep since getting here... not too surprising when I realize that I went about 48 hours without real sleep. I'm having a good time hanging out with [ profile] popelizbet, though. And it's very relaxing just being here. I am sleeping so soundly that despite being right next to the front door (which is bedecked with bells) I managed to sleep right through Lizbet leaving for class this morning. In fact, when I woke up and realized how late it must be my first thought was that she had overslept. I ran to her room... okay, I tiptoed because I was iffy about going into her space and peeked in from kind of a wide angle so I wouldn't have to actually stick my head in and was surprised and relieved to see that her bed was empty. Which is good, because she's got some important stuff going on today. I feel somewhat inadequate to the task of giving her support and reassurance, but I'm very much rooting for her. She helps a lot of people in a lot of different ways, and she just generally kicks an awful lot of ass.
alexandraerin: (November)
The move has gone well. Some parts of it went much more easily than I expected and some parts were a lot harder and mostly the whole thing was just very different. See also: not very good at predicting the future. Around the time that my jaw stopped hurting, a hammock chair dumped me on the floor, leaving me with the second most painful bruise I've ever had on my backside

While this move was long overdue, it also kind of came at an awkward time. Or rather, it came at a time that's bracketed between my very unplanned dental emergency and a long-planned trip to Memphis, on which I'm embarking at around ass o'clock tomorrow morning. Fun. This trip is both business and personal. I'll be doing a reading--details coming on that--and I'll be in town long enough (just over two weeks, to cover a spread of events) that there may be opportunities for some informal get-together if anybody just wants a chance to chat. We did that in Maryland and though the weather was seriously against us it was a lot of fun.

I'll be staying at the home of my very good friend [ profile] popelizbet, who is going to be seriously busy for a lot of the time I'm there so this'll basically just be a quiet time in which I can reflect and recharge. At the time we planned this that seemed like a much more dire need. Now that my living situation has changed so markedly for the better... well, I still think it'll help me reflect and recharge. I feel like I've been reclaiming a big part of my life lately, the life I'm supposed to have been living and have in some ways put on hold. I'm going to be spending time with some dear friends, I'm going to be seeing a couple of awesome live music events, which are pretty much a spiritual event for me, and I'm also going to an actual spiritual event. This could be good for me.


alexandraerin: (Default)

August 2017



RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 17th, 2017 04:42 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios