a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
other gardeners 
21 February 2017 12:16 - Man v Squirrel
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Another epic battle between good and evil! Or at least me and a mail-stealing squirrel.


21 February 2017 10:48 - The Walls We See Around Ourselves
donutsweeper: (Default)
Title: The Walls We See Around Ourselves
Fandom/Pairing/Rating:
Captain America, Bucky/Sam/Steve, rated G
Beta: BridgetMcKennitt
Word Count: 883 words

Summary:
 Bucky and Sam gang up on Steve to find out why he still doesn't know how to dance.
Author's Note: A chocolatebox treat for Yeomanrand

The Walls We See Around Ourselves
21 February 2017 09:00 - Rush
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

I waltzed into soundcheck feeling pretty good from Vitamin F kicking in. “Who’s doing the very last lounge act of the tour?” I asked.

No one moved a muscle. I gave it another couple beats before I said, “Am I going to have to do it myself?”

Read the rest of this entry » )
sovay: (Cho Hakkai: intelligence)
Another President's Day has gone by (marked with protests, I hear) and [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel and I have observed our sixth 'Thon together. We did not make the full twenty-four hours of science fiction film this year, but then again we had not planned on having to ditch the marathon for an emergency room. I am very ready for my physical health to start putting itself back together any time soon. For obvious reasons, this will be a shorter review than some previous years.

Neither of us had gotten much sleep the night before, so we did not make it for the traditional noon kickoff of Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century (1953) or even the first feature, which in honor of the marathon's forty-second anniversary was Hammer & Tongs' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005). Fortunately, we got another chance at Sam Rockwell and Alan Rickman with Dean Parisot's Galaxy Quest (1999)—we were in fact too late for Alexander's panic attack, but we made it to the balcony just in time to hear Dr. Lazarus swearing to a stricken Thermian that by Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Worvan, he would be avenged, at which point the audience as one correctly erupted in applause. I hadn't seen the film since it was in theaters, which never prevented whole swathes of its dialogue from turning up in my brain at the slightest excuse; I was especially glad to catch any of it on 35 mm, given how much of this year's marathon was digital. It was the rare contemporary movie in its year where I actually recognized more than one member of the cast, mostly thanks to Rickman, Sigourney Weaver, and Tony Shalhoub. I did not realize until the credits rolled that I had spent most of last year seeing earnest, dorky, dolphin-sounding alien leader Mathesar—Enrico Colantoni—as Elias on Person of Interest (2011–16), where he is not even faintly any of the above. I love character actors very much.

It is impossible for me to watch William Alland and Jack Arnold's Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) now without associating it with Caitlín R. Kiernan's "From Cabinet 34, Drawer 6," to the point where Antonio Moreno levered the fossilized, grasping claw of the Creature's ancestor out of its plaster strata of Devonian shale and I thought Grendelonyx innsmouthensis, but I can remember being in third grade and seeing—not the entire film, I think, because I recognized very little beyond the design of the Gill-Man and some underwater footage of him swimming through the silt and weeds of the Black Lagoon, but enough that it went into my head as something haunting and not a little upsetting, accelerated shortly afterward by finding in my elementary school library a lavishly illustrated book about '50's monster movies which summarized the two sequels. I knew already that I felt bad for the monster. I already knew that I wanted gills and retractile claws and webbing between my fingers; I swam open-eyed, underwater in the Atlantic and had to be taught actual human swimming strokes. On that level the movie still resonates with me, even while I'm not actually sure as an adult that it's very good. I love the cosmic opening with its condensing clouds of atmosphere and prehistoric seas; the fossil itself is a great hook, even if it's essentially forgotten once the expedition enters the lagoon; I found it a fascinating touch for 1954 that one of the accumulating villainies of Richard Denning's sleek, competitive, increasingly trigger-happy scientist—the kind who's more concerned with getting his name in the papers than advancing the frontiers of human knowledge, unlike hunky but high-minded Richard Carlson—is the disclosure that he's been taking credit for his female colleague's research while convincing her that she wouldn't even have a job in her field without him. (The audience hissed him for that. Good audience.) The underwater shots of a carefree Julie Adams splashing tantalizingly against the sky while the unseen Gill-man shadows her stroke for stroke so vividly recall the opening shark attack of Jaws (1975) that Spielberg has to have seen this movie. The scene in which the Gill-man mauls and drowns an expedition member foolhardy enough to go after him with a spear gun employs no blood and gets a real predator-prey jolt out of the thrashing braid of bodies half-seen in a churn of bubbles, naked human limbs grappling ineffectually with armoring scales and claws. Just why in the name of Poseidon is the Creature so obsessed with Julie Adams except that the monster carrying off the pretty girl is a trope of horror movies and God forbid that after all the scientific buildup we apply any rationality now? Or, as Rob said succinctly over chicken shawarma at Noor this afternoon, "Tits."

I had not seen Andrew Niccol's Gattaca (1997) since it was in theaters, either, where it was almost certainly my introduction to all three of its principal actors, although Jude Law was the name I took away with me at the time. I misread the movie's construction of suspense and spent the entire runtime concerned that the hero's 99% fatal heart condition would kill him at some dramatic or ironic moment, including the climactic blastoff into space. On rewatch at least I didn't have that problem, but then I was free to notice how little the film holds up as science fiction. It makes a great parable, but I can't believe a future America premised on eugenics would actually look or behave like Niccol's cool, retro-modern dystopia; I'm not docking it points for the technological minutiae of the all-pervasive DNA-clocking system which Ethan Hawke's Vincent must study and deceive in order to achieve his skyward dream, because nothing dates faster than detailed anticipation of the future, but thanks to the nationwide tidal wave of anti-intellectualism and general irrationality in which we are all living, right now I am much more worried about conceiving in a society that would force me to carry to term a child that would know nothing but incoherent pain in its short life (I'm an Ashkenazi Jew; Tay-Sachs is the first thing I would screen for) than I am about winding up in a world in which the un-engineered are disparagingly known as "faith-births" and "Godchildren," as if religious conviction is the only reason a person doesn't jump wholesale onto the eugenics bandwagon, throwing out potential geniuses left and right just because they might also turn out manic-depressive or asthmatic or obese or bald. The movie treats genetics as an almost inherently evil science, presuming that it's better never to know in advance because any probability would be accepted instantly as written fate. I look at people I know doing disability and autism awareness and I'm not saying we don't have institutional hangovers from people self-servingly misunderstanding Darwin, but I also look at people I know doing IVF and I'm pretty sure they're not the top of that slippery slope to state-encouraged sterilization. About the only place where I agree with Gattaca is its linkage of class and eugenics: while the wealthy can afford top-of-the-line kids with the most designer tweaks, like the back-broken Olympian whose flawless genetic signature Vincent appropriates to sneak him into the exclusive space program where his own applied intelligence and dedication can take him to the stars, Vincent's own working-class parents conceived him hopefully in the back of a Buick Riviera and then, seeing in horror that he turned out short-sighted with a predisposition to attention deficit disorder and a life expectancy in his early thirties, scrimped and saved to upgrade the next pregnancy. (And while I assume it is part of the point of this movie that the protagonist's life-defining "disabilities" still leave him an able-bodied straight white cis man with the looks to pass himself off as a genetically tailored "Valid" and the smarts to teach himself celestial navigation, I still find myself wondering, all right, so what if you're black in this future and you have a learning disability? What if you're brown and autistic? What if you're a woman who isn't Uma Thurman's lanky porcelain blonde? How do you hack this system?) What this really comes down to is that there's a particular strain of science fiction in which science itself is the inevitable enemy of the human heart and I hadn't realized until I saw it again that Gattaca belongs to it. At least I was still impressed by Jude Law.

We had planned to run out for dinner during the first act of George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) and then return in time for Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985) because it's one of Rob's favorite movies and Nacho Vigalondo's Timecrimes (Los Cronocrímenes, 2007) because I had very good ten-year-old memories of its twisty, panicky time-loop co-starring the director as a pleasantly sensible time-machine-inventing scientist, but instead we went to the ER at Mount Auburn where some very nice night staff gave me a nebulizer treatment and the X-ray of my lungs came out clear, of which the doctor had not been confident while listening to my chest and the sounds I made in between the coughing. If medical monitors produce a permanent record that gets stored somewhere in a patient's chart, mine almost certainly looks ridiculous because I got bored and started playing with biofeedback. (It was genuinely reassuring for me to know that I can still hold my breath for two minutes without strain even under lung-straitening circumstances.) I've now got two inhalers which I am supposed to use for the bronchitis and apparently I was sick enough this week that I almost completely forgot to eat; I shouldn't do that again. We got back to the Somerville for the denouement of Don Coscarelli's John Dies at the End (2012), which involved cultists in pig masks, a dimension-conquering biological supercomputer and its shock troops of giant spiders, a heroic dog, two slackers, some evidently extra-strength soy sauce, some cutesy-splattery animation, and Clancy Brown being randomly badass in shades, which I kind of assume is just a thing Clancy Brown does. I am a little sorry to have missed earlier portions of the film including Doug Jones as a helpful alien, but the coda in which our two heroic slackers are summoned to save yet another universe and flat-out blow their prophesied calling off may have recapitulated everything I need to know.

The film I really wanted not to miss was Clément Cogitore's Neither Heaven nor Earth (Ni le ciel ni la terre, 2015). I had read positive reviews of it last year when it got a U.S. release and they were all justified: it was the standout of the marathon for me. I liked it so much that I have difficulty describing it. It is and is not a war film, just as it is and is not a horror film, because both of those genre labels raise expectations that the film itself effortlessly frustrates. The plot tracks a squad of French soldiers stationed in the Wakhan in Afghanistan in late 2014; under the command of wiry, blond-bearded Captain Antarès Bonassieu (Jérémie Renier, incredible), the small garrison patrols and oversees a small, rocky, scrubby valley on the border of Pakistan, constantly reporting back and forth from their north and south posts. Sometimes they skirmish with the local band of Taliban, so far without apparent casualties on either side; sometimes they interact, in carefully mannered and mutually incomprehensible ways, with the local villagers whose sheep are always straying into their sector. The ISAF is pulling out of Afghanistan, but until that time their high-tech, high-testosterone, bored to fucking tears surveillance routine is unvarying. Check in, check out. Rotate. E-mail your wife. Spar. Check your weapons, break them down, check them again. Light a candle in the tarp-shadowed corner that is the barracks chapel, a black cross spray-painted on a white piece of board; if you think of Crusaders in the desert of eight centuries ago, you aren't the only one feeling those echoes, even if Antarès himself is resolutely non-observant. Whistle for the camp dog and feel a little sad when nobody can find him. Hang up on your wife when you hear the captain coming. Check in. And then one morning two soldiers don't. They don't respond by radio; their relief arriving at the north post finds no one in the little box of cement and tin siding, pin-ups and graffiti on its walls and blankets on the floor. There were civilians seen on the ridge that night, performing some kind of fire ritual—we see it through two kinds of enhanced night vision, green-and-white ghosts in a shimmer of uncertainty. The captain leaps to the same conclusion as the viewer, enemy action, collaboration, these people whose land they have been occupying and whose interests they have been hypothetically protecting have shown their Taliban sympathies at last. But the villagers can demonstrate that it was only a sheep that was burned (they won't explain why, but nobody in the squad cares; it is enough for them to know that the locals observe some form of Islam, so long as it doesn't radicalize them the soldiers are under orders not to interfere) and Antarès despite reviewing all available footage and communications can prove no link between his missing men and any outside influence. He tightens security protocols, sets more cameras up. The soldiers start to get nervous; one dreams repeatedly of his missing comrades asleep in a cave while another panics and wastes a sheep in the dark. A messenger comes on a motorcycle from Kabul, is sent away with pictures of Tek and Delcourt just in case. And another man disappears. Not in the middle of the night, even: broad daylight at the south post while his mate steps outside for a piss. Quickly now, the simple answers begin to recede—the local Taliban come waving a white flag, demanding the French soldiers give back their missing men. Antarès agrees to a cease-fire on the assumption that he'll get his own men traded back, but the truce with "the Sultan" (Hamid Reza Javdan) and his equally gung-ho, equally spooked men stretches uneasily as neither side finds what they were looking for. The messenger's motorcycle turns up in the village, his one-man camp under the fig trees inexplicably deserted. The apparently purposeless iron stake in the center of the valley has a sheep tied up to it, bleating overnight in a circle of white paint. A fourth soldier disappears. If heaven and earth are accounted for, as the title would have it, then the traditional division of the cosmos leaves only hell, but the boy from the village insists that the valley is "Allah's land" where it is forbidden to sleep on the ground or "Allah takes you back." To the squad's translator Khalil (Sâm Mirhosseini), the Sultan's men begin to speak of "the people of the cave," the Quranic Seven Sleepers to whom God granted refuge, dreaming beneath the earth until the unknown time comes for them to awaken: "Some say there were four, some say there were five . . . Some say there were seven men and a dog." Another soldier connects the disappearances to the Christian Rapture, imagining in terror a world from which God is removing his creations, one at a time, in the reverse order from which he created them. And Antarès, the modern scholar-soldier, a young but hardened commander who has famously "never left a man, a body, or even a vehicle behind," finds himself for the first time in his life feverishly, dangerously in need of answers, even as the land itself seems placidly disinclined to provide them. I was reminded of the films of Werner Herzog, especially the ones where Klaus Kinski goes crazy in a hostile landscape; I was reminded of the fiction of Gemma Files. I am pretty sure there is some postcolonial theory in this movie, but there are also arresting, singular images that don't reduce easily to any one reading, like a soldier dancing alone before a techno-blasting stack of amps, his rolling, tightly muscled shoulders showing a pair of eyes tattooed one on each shoulderblade; he looks like a monster himself in that moment, he looks like a drinking cup with apotropaic eyes, he looks like the owl of Lilith's deserts, he looks possessed. It was the right film to show at three in the morning and I am so glad the digital copy consented to show its subtitles, since I might have been able to hack the soldiers' French if I saw it written, but my Persian is not a thing.

I have such mixed feelings about Christian Nicolson's This Giant Papier-Mâché Boulder Is Actually Really Heavy (2016). It is an obvious labor of love, filmed and produced with the assistance of Kickstarter, family, and friends. The initial amusing but finite concept of three regular joes from Auckland mysteriously sucked into a far-future, low-budget world in which not only the clichés but the production values of old-school space opera hold true pivots in the second act into something a lot more metafictionally interesting and then does not quite pay off in the third, even while the inventiveness of the production design remains shameless and delightful, fashioning ray guns out of eggbeaters and pirate ships out of commodes and consoles of futuristic buttons and levers out of everything you could find literally underneath your kitchen sink. The dialogue has the time of its life sending up infodumpy worldbuilding and tin-eared heroic epithets and whoever was managing the color saturation dialed it up and down convincingly for different eras of space opera. The writer-director is one of the stars and he doesn't even give himself the most triumphantly delivered line, which has to do with the reclamation of once-spurned geekery and occasioned foot-stamping audience applause. I even think the script has a handle on the comedic deployment of profanity, which I am kind of a hard sell on unless you're Nick Frost and Simon Pegg (or Boston's own Unreliable Narrator, whose Planet of the Warrior-Bunnies last October gave our household the plummily accented, invaluable rhetorical question "What a clusterfuck, eh?"). I'm just not sure that it takes the fullest advantage of its premises and to a degree that left me thinking back on the plot with more yes, but they could have than awesome, they did. In this respect it is doing no worse than many summer blockbusters with orders of magnitude more budget; I just really enjoy seeing tiny homegrown oddities outdo the big studios on every level, not just the creative repurposing of squeegees and forks.

So I know I'm not the target audience for John McTiernan's Predator (1987) because I sat through the first act of lovingly slo-mo South American guerillas being shredded with machine-gun fire or pinwheeled through the air against sheets of rolling orange flame and vine-tangled green hell at the hands of Arnold Schwarzenegger and his elite special forces squad in some kind of action-movie wet-dream do-over of Vietnam ("Makes Cambodia look like Kansas") and when Rob came back from CVS with more seltzer I said, "I have drowned in testosterone." I am not even crazy about the second act in which the commandos are stalked by Kevin Peter Hall's Predator moving like a mirror against the trees, despite the inherent interest of trying to figure out the capabilities and limitations of the hunter-alien from the very little information we have, because the logic of survival horror demands the culling of the herd of characters and I knew Schwarzenegger wasn't going to cop it with his name above the title on the poster and all. I was pleased that the script avoiding killing either of its two main black characters until well after Jesse Ventura's chest had been plasma-exploded. But I did not actually start caring about anything that happened onscreen with more than surface curiosity until the third act dropped straight into the full-bore mythic with Schwarzenegger masked in river mud bending himself a longbow, lighting a torch, and giving voice to a primal scream to alert the Predator to come and get him. Go know. After that I did not watch to see whether the hero would defeat the monster, but how, and what the monster would do about it. I had a general idea of the Predator design from the internet, but had not gathered the amphibious texture of its skin—why should it be mammalian at all—or the intricacy of its mouthparts, which gives it a familiarly doglike look until it unfolds. I was expecting much more explanation at the end than we got. I liked the withholding. I feel I may now wish to try Alien vs. Predator (2004), which both my father and brother enjoyed. They mentioned at the time that it has a black female hero, which I am pretty sure is still rare in genre film or any other kind, really.

I am the target audience for Joe Johnston's The Rocketeer (1991). I have two contradictory memories of discovering the subject material: the timing suggests that I saw the movie first, because I remember seeing it in theaters with my parents, but I also remember purchasing a secondhand copy of Dave Stevens' original comic because the trade paperback had an introduction by Harlan Ellison. In any case, I managed to get enough mental distance between the two versions that I can enjoy the film on its own terms rather than in competition with the comic, which means that I can bask in the performances and the successfully realized retro aesthetic and mostly mind only that the first act is kind of a mess and Jennifer Connelly, though she has many fine qualities which the film duly appreciates, is not Bettie Page. I did not know before this afternoon that Stevens has a brief but memorable cameo as the Nazi rocketeer who blows himself up in the suppressed training film; I keep forgetting that the German propaganda cartoon of rocketmen soaring in black arrows across the Atlantic to bring down the White House in flames and unfurl the Parteiadler in place of the American eagle was directed by Mark Dindal, who has a usually charming and here chilling eye for historical animation styles. I feel it can't merely have been punch-drunk adrenaline that had the audience hollering at every blow of the Nazi-punching climax. I've never seen Billy Campbell as anyone but Cliff Secord, but he has the right hair and the right smile; I have a longstanding fondness for Alan Arkin dating back to The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966), but I think he's pretty much perfect as Peevy. Other people I keep forgetting are in this film include Terry O'Quinn as Howard Hughes ("Congratulations, gentlemen. Thanks to the diligence of the FBI, this particular vacuum cleaner will not fall into the wrong hands"), Paul Sorvino as Eddie Valentine ("I may not make an honest buck, but I'm one hundred percent American—I don't work for no two-bit Nazi"), and Max Grodénchik as the criminal underling Wilmer, which should tell you right there what his chances of surviving this story are going to be. I am not sure I had actually noticed before that William Sanderson plays one of the other stunt pilots at the airfield, which means I have finally seen him as someone other than J.F. Sebastian. I think it is highly likely that The Rocketeer is the first movie in which I saw Timothy Dalton, meaning I may never quite separate him from his Errol Flynn impression. Johnston directs period pieces so well, I wish people would let him do more of it.

And by that point it was nearly eleven in the morning and we had seen a beautiful print of Ron Underwood's Tremors (1990) at the Somerville's noon-to-midnight Halloween marathon four years ago, so we bailed on the DCP and went for lunch at Noor, where we had been planning to eat dinner the previous night before the whole ER situation intervened. It was extremely satisfying. I really like pickled turnips. The cats sang the songs of their disgraceful neglect as soon as we got home, then presented belly for petting and, in the case of Autolycus, tried to stick their faces into my tomato soup some hours later when I made myself dinner on the not-forgetting-to-eat plan. By now it is time for me to remember to go to bed. I am not sure this 'Thon review is all that much shorter than in previous years; it might just be distributed differently. This annual observance brought to you by my stalwart backers at Patreon.
20 February 2017 22:18 - sketch of the day
yhlee: kitty using bullet journal as pillow (bullet journal)


Sleepy catten!

Ink: Robert Oster Astorquiza Rot
Pen: Aurora Optima 75th Anniversary, medium nib
20 February 2017 22:53 - Giving up the Dead
bcholmes: (being dead like me)

I’m having an email correspondence with a genealogist in Ireland. I’m looking to hire her to find records on my Holmes ancestors before they came to Canada. It’s been a slow conversation, with a number of delays, but I’m hoping that something will come of it.

But today we were talking about a particular part of the tree, and while looking at my records for that part of the tree, I realized that I’d failed to transcribe some data.

Here’s the story. I’ve mentioned before that the first of my family to come to Canada are Andrew and Susan (Susannah) Holmes, who emigrated here in 1845. I’ve also mentioned that Andrew died in quarantine at Grosse Île, Quebec. But they brought with them six of their seven children, who spread out and several of those kids end up in Lambton County, where I grew up.

So I’m interested in the one that stayed behind, Mary Ann Holmes, born around 1811. She was the oldest of the seven children and she was already married at the time the family moved to Canada (the second oldest, Margaret Holmes, was also married, but she brought her husband along to Canada with her). Some time before 1861, Mary Ann joined the rest of the family in Canada. Her husband, James Dowler, remained in Ireland. The author of Those Irish Holmes’ writes, “‘Tis said he loved the Emerald Isle, the thrill of its strife, and another woman.”

Mary Ann went to Lambton County and moved in with her brother, John Holmes and his wife, Mary Wilkinson. John and Mary only had one kid, but Mary Ann brought five with her. The youngest of those five might have been born in Canada, if the censuses are to be believed. If so, either Mary Ann was pregnant on the ride over, or James Dowler wasn’t the kid’s father. Or the censuses are wrong. This line of the family doesn’t have it easy. Mary Ann’s daughter, Ann Dowler, died in the London Insane Asylum. Her older brother, Thomas, might have also spent some time there.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

20 February 2017 17:51 - I know it wasn't a finalist
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
But did Robot & Frank get nominated for the Hugo?
20 February 2017 13:45 - If it's wrong
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
to work out the two levels of Mad Science behind the origin of a character I will likely never play, I don't want to be right.
(also, I like the idea of a super-villian dog named Deadly Sirius. He's embittered over having the mind of an Einstein in the body of a dog breed with a lifespan of a decade. Maybe a decade and a half if it's lucky)
20 February 2017 11:25 - Rainy Days
donutsweeper: (Default)
It's currently 57 degrees (13.8 celcius) outside and utterly pouring- sheets of rain coming down. There is so many things wrong with that, it's not even funny. I live in Minnesota, it's supposed to be 27/28 maybe with tons of snow. We've only shoveled three or four times all winter, and other than in shady patches and where there were huge piles, the snow is completely gone. But climate change isn't a thing. *sigh* I've been able to open the windows some so the cats are happy though, so, bright side?

Frustratingly, I haven't enjoyed the last two Lethal Weapon episodes. Two weeks ago the subplot was with the Murtaugh's teen daughtersubplot ranting ) And, meanwhile the main plot involved the shrink, Cahill, having a stalker (which wasn't a great plot to start with but then ends with Riggs saving her life and main plot ranting )

This week's was slightly better and saw the return of Hilarie Burton's DEA agent character which led to Murtaugh and Avery basically trying to shove her and Riggs together. The man is still grieving his wife, he's started baby steps to getting past the worst of it (vague attempts at sobriety) but he has a ways to go before attempting any kind of relationship... I just wish the show let him grieve and cut it with the romantic crap. Not everyone needs to be in a relationship/flirting/whatever to be happy.

Ugh ugh ugh. I was SO into this show and now.... *sighs some more*

The list of shows I've tried/given up on keeps growing (and groaning, I guess, which is what I mistakenly typed first). Powerless, This is Us, Blindspot, Blacklist, Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Magicians, and others? I know I'm forgetting a ton. There's also People of Earth which I watched some of and liked it well enough, but keep forgetting it exists.

I'm liking Sleepy Hollow's new season, which is a nice surprise. Every fandom space I've found *hates* it though, mostly as blowback for Abbie's fate as opposed to anything actually airing from what I can tell. Grimm's last season is... bad. There's no other word for it. But, like I have with other shows, the end is so close I'm sticking it out. Lucifer's most recent twist was.. well, not what I hoped for, but it's currently on break so we'll see where it goes with it when it returns. DC's Legends of Tomorrow is floundering, the camp can no longer cover for the plotting and acting issues. John Barrowman is *awful* in DCTV. Sorry, John, I loved your Jack Harkness, but everything since then has been a huge disappointment and borderline terrible.

Timeless has only one more episode this season with no renewal word, here's hoping it has an acceptableish 'ending' that'll work as series or season finale.

Oh! There's been an update to that adorable story about the Muslim and Jewish families who were photographed protesting next to one another at O'Hare airport (my previous post about it). The families did get together for that dinner and apparently had a lovely time. *sniffles happily*
lagilman: Does Not Play Well With Stupid People (Default)

So, over the weekend, noted piece of shit Milo Yiannopoulos officially expanded his shittiness by stating that he advocates for sex with underage partners, and doesn't believe in this silly fiction of "age of consent." Adults having sex with (extreme) minors? Fine by him.

This goes beyond 'freedom of speech,' however much I abhor words that come out of his mouth. This is a man advocating sexual abuse of children (and, possibly, depending on how you read his words, having endorsed and enabled same).

His defense is that he wasn't talking about pedophilia because that's about attraction to someone without secondary sexual characteristics, but if they're sexually mature at an early age (male or female), that's ok.

And still, the CPA (Conservative Political Action Conference) is featuring him as a guest speaker, and S&S is giving him a book deal. If his contract with S&S is standard, there's a clause in it that would allow them to break that contract, if they chose to, at this point. We'll see if they choose to. Obviously, as an S&S author myself, I hope they do.

I have no expectation of CPA revoking their speaker invitation: they knew what he was when they invited him, and they seem perfectly comfortable with that being associated with them. I'd be delighted to be proven wrong, however.


Ironically but not unexpectedly, his racism and anti-semitism barely made a ripple in conservative circles, but this seems to have upset them. Because white Christian children are suddenly at risk, too. /bitter AF

20 February 2017 00:47 - "IT ME"
rosefox: "You mean the girls were topless the whole time and I never noticed?" (oblivious)
Thanks to a link from [twitter.com profile] tgstonebutch, today I learned about queerplatonic relationships (a term coined in 2010 by [personal profile] kaz and [personal profile] meloukhia) and spent several hours going "WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THERE'S A NAME FOR WHAT I DO". A good primer is here and a post on QP not being "romance-lite" is here. I want to quote both of them at length. I want to hug them. This is amazing.

I'm not aro or ace. But there is absolutely a third category of relationship in my life, in addition to partnership and friendship. I've been calling it "partner-level friends" or "my [name]" because I didn't have a word for it. And now I do. Wow. I haven't felt this seen since I read the relationship anarchy manifesto. (Which is very relevant.)

While discussing this with a friend, he asked how "romantic" was being defined, since both "aromantic" and "platonic" were being defined in opposition to it, and I realized I didn't have a good answer. (Merriam-Webster doesn't either. Their definition of "romantic" points to "romance", which points to "love affair", which points back to "romantic".) After some discussion on Twitter, [twitter.com profile] numbathyal pointed me to this piece by a possible aromantic who asked a romantic to define romance. The definition that came out of their conversation was: "Romance is a natural high that occurs in the presence of certain people, without obvious connection to sexuality, 'good company', or emotional intimacy." That jibes pretty well with my experience, which I described as follows:
When I look at people I'm in love with, my body responds. My heart swells—that's literally a feeling I get in my chest, not a metaphor. My heart rate goes up and I feel a little breathless. My pupils probably dilate. I want to be physically touching the person in some way. I'm SUPER touchy-feely with X and J. Constant small touches as I walk past them. Always sitting as near as I can get.

When I look at people I'm in QP relationships with, I have a different set of reactions. Hardly any physical reaction at all. I do like hugging them, but I don't feel the same urge to be in contact. I get much more of a squee reaction. My brain lights up. It's still something I would call chemistry, but a different kind of chemical reaction.

Things romantic and QP relationships have in common for me: I feel a profound sense of safety. I can relax around the person. I say "I love you" and it's never by rote. I want regular communication of some sort. I feel more myself in the person's company.

All of this is shaped by my tendency toward feeling very definitely like I "click" with certain people. Often upon meeting them. A little alert box pops up that says "You and this person could have something amazing together! Pursue it!". I can tell you the exact moment that happened with both X and J, and with all four of my QP people. So I don't know what "romantic" looks like for people who don't have that zing or sniff test or instalove or whatever you want to call it. I spent literal months knowing I was going to fall in love with J and waiting for it to happen. Had to WD40 the "in love" switch. But it finally flipped hard and has never flipped back. <3

This is also not what my romantic relationships looked like when I was in my teens or 20s. Much healthier now. :) Twenty years ago, desperate longing to be loved and valued was part and parcel of romance for me. Now I love myself.
Some of the useful links that came up in conversation (h/t [twitter.com profile] tgstonebutch and [twitter.com profile] numbathyal):

Sexuality and romance as pet elephants that are invisible to ace and aro people
Limerence and "platonic attraction"
How to write about queerplatonic relationships in fiction (lots and lots of useful links there)
Various concepts of greyromanticism

I was amused to choose "oblivious" as the userpic keyword and have this userpic come up, because at first it seemed totally inappropriate for a post discussing nonsexual relationships. In its original context (Sluggy Freelance, if anyone remembers it), it's being said by a guy who is very into topless women and sad that he missed a chance to ogle some. But I've always used it because I am genuinely the sort of person to not really notice that an attractive woman is topless, because we're too busy talking about other things and connecting on other levels. So maybe it's appropriate after all.
19 February 2017 22:44 - sketch of the day
yhlee: chessmaster (chess pieces) (chessmaster)
Not really a sketch; it's a line rendition of this photo in an interview with actress Megan Boone; I'm not seeing a credit for the photographer.



The proportions are a bit off :/ which is why I will never be a portrait artist, but I was working fast and loose. Also, I cannot even with the FBI badge (or TV fake FBI badge, not like I'd know the difference). Sorry?

Ink: Robert Oster Astorquiza Rot
Pen: Aurora Optima 75th Anniversary

BTW, for the curious, both my Auroras have M nibs. I know a lot of people who prefer F or XF nibs for fountain pen drawing, but I'm finding that when I'm drawing with a firm nib, the bolder line of a European M is kind of nice.

I have now watched all of Blacklist S1 and am wondering whether to continue, because the unrepentant torture quota is...high. :( I get that bad guys will use torture in the course of narrative but when the "good guys" are doing it all over the place it's hard to care about anyone, especially in a modern-day setting.
19 February 2017 20:38 - A couple of recent images
wcg: (Default)
Greetings from the Undisclosed Location, somewhere in the desert southwest, where I'm working on my tan by day and continuing my remote observing efforts by night. It would be nice if I could observe directly from here, but it's been cloudy every night since we arrived, and rainy yesterday and today.

Read more... )
yhlee: Amber Tarot Knight of Swords: Benedict (Tarot d'Ambre: Benedict)
And more Amber Tarot!

The origin of playing cards
A strange burglary

[New icon! It's the Knight of Swords, or Benedict, from the Amber Tarot.]

Read more... )
yhlee: Amber Tarot Knight of Swords: Benedict (Tarot d'Ambre: Benedict)
More Tarot d'Ambre translation exercise.

Le Tarot (The Tarot)

Read more... )
yhlee: Amber Tarot Knight of Swords: Benedict (Tarot d'Ambre: Benedict)
More Tarot d'Ambre translation exercise.

Read more... )

Comments/corrections welcome.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Wanted to create a unit of enhanced lifeform super-soldiers, taking otherwise expendable kids, trying to duplicate documented Origin Events on them, then training them to be loyal and competent troops. So, in these effete days they might run into a legal issue over the child labour angle.

Could they disguise it as a sports program? Or dance? Nobody seems to mind what gets committed to make athletes and dancers.
yhlee: a sewer cover in Kyoto (I am not making this up) (Kyoto)
Continuing with this list.

Read more... )

Okay, that's it for the moment.
18 February 2017 23:54 - sketch of the day
yhlee: chessmaster (chess pieces) (chessmaster)


Blue ink: Robert Oster School Blue
Pen: Aurora Optima blue chrome.

Red ink: Robert Oster Astorquiza Rot.
Pen: Aurora Optima 75th Anniversary.

Because Blacklist doesn't just jump the shark, it has FLYING SHARKS.

Uh, excuse my sad excuses for chess pieces. I didn't think to reference a chess set and I don't remember what the pieces look like except that knights are horses and rooks are castles. I should have done a rook instead of the bishop-thing.
sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)
This afternoon my knee was in good enough shape that I actually got out of the house and walked up to the library and back, taking the cane for the ice and general late-winter street sludge. As of tonight, I am not using the cane around the house, which the cats seem to feel is an improvement on the past four days of weird noises and tail endangerment. My father talked to me about Mary Seacole and I have decided that this tweet may be our generation's "I am a lighthouse; your call." I ate some coconut-milk ice cream. Otherwise, today has been terrible. Tomorrow, being full of science fiction film, had better be more fun.
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Introduction

This is the third chunk of data and analysis from the 2016 Novelist Income Survey.

A number of people have asked how the number of books published in 2016 correlates with income, particularly with indie writers. We saw in part two that authors who primarily self-publish can do quite well. Is volume one of the secrets to success, and is it a greater factor for indie writers than traditionally the published?

Overview

I used the same method as before for separating out authors who were primarily indie, primarily large press, and primarily small press.

Three survey questions asked how many books respondents had published in 2016 through a large press, a small press, and through self-publishing. This brings me to my first data quandary. When I’m looking at the indie authors, do I count just the number of books they self-published, or the total number of books? Because a lot of our authors are hybrid, those numbers won’t be the same. So I graphed the data both ways, and found that the results — particularly the trend line — looked pretty much identical.

Indie Author Total Books Published Indie Author Self-Pub Totals

I decided to go with the total number of books published in any category, and to see how that number affected income for authors who were primarily indie, small press, or large press.

I removed the highest outlier from each graph below, both because it appeared to be disproportionately influencing the results, and because it threw off the scale and made it harder to see the rest of the data points. Because this was using net income, I also removed the handful of authors who didn’t report any expenses, since I had no way of calculating those net incomes.

The Charts

Indie Authors:

Indie Authors Income - Outlier Removed

Small Press Authors:

Small Press Authors Income - Outlier Removed

Large Press Authors:

Large Press Authors Income - Outlier Removed

Everyone’s clear on the correlation =/= causation thing by now, right? That said, the trend lines on the three graphs are pretty striking. For authors who are primarily indie, the graph suggests a correlation between number of books published and overall income. The correlation for small press is significantly smaller.

But most fascinating to me is that for large press authors, the line is essentially flat. The authors with 8 or 10 large press novels in 2016 made roughly the same as the average author with 1 or 2 large press books. Excellent news for the one book/year folks with big publishers.

Median and Average Books/Year

As I was wrapping up, it occurred to me that I should compare how prolific the different types of author were. This turned out to be interesting as well, though not too surprising.

Books Published in 2016: Median (Average)

  • Large Press 1 (1.2)
  • Small Press 1 (1.3)
  • Indie Press 2 (3.1)

While the median large and small press author published one book last year, the median indie published two. The difference in the average numbers is even stronger.

There are exceptions to everything, of course. I know some ridiculously prolific and successful big-press authors. But overall, I think this supports to the idea that success in self-publishing depends more strongly on how many books you can put out. It also shows that indie authors are following that approach and getting more books out there.

Net Losses

One last note. (Or maybe just one last excuse to post a pie chart.) 63 authors reported a net loss in 2016. 36 of those were indie authors. 19 were small press. 8 were large press.

Authors Reporting Net Losses

Intuitively, this makes a kind of sense. Self-publishing requires the author to invest in the up-front production costs, as well as marketing. But I’d want to collect a lot more data than I have before coming to any firm conclusions.

In Our Next Episode

I’m very curious to look at the hours/week spent on promotion and marketing, and to see how much that correlates with income. In other words, does all that work we do trying to get our names out there really have an impact? (I’m guessing the answer may be very different depending on whether or not you’re large press, small press, or indie.)

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

18 February 2017 15:42 - Has DC Comics
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Ever mentioned which Canadian federal ministry deals with metahuman affairs?
18 February 2017 08:30 - PSA and request
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
I am not really using LJ or DW any more - I don't have that much time for social media at the moment and find that Twitter is currently the platform that best fits into the rest of my life. If you'd like to stay in touch and have a Twitter account that I am not yet following, please drop me a comment with your Twitter handle or follow me at @sashajwolf. I am planning to start using that account for my (relativey few) Pagan tweets as well as general stuff and will be setting up a Pagan reading list there, so if I'm currently following you from @druidsass, you will probably shortly get a follow request or notification from @sashajwolf as well.
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
My sleep debt is uncountable so this is not particularly coherent.

SPOILERS )
17 February 2017 20:31 - found online
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

According to the National Institute of Health, the average resting heart rate: for children 10 years and older, and adults (including seniors) is 60 - 100 beats per minute. for well-trained athletes is 40 - 60 beats per minute.


Because I had a consult with my sleep doctor last week, I happen to know what my heart rate is: 53.
17 February 2017 17:18 - Le Tarot d'Ambre: Ambre et ombres
yhlee: Shuos Jedao (Hellspin Fortress) (hxx Jedao 1x10^6)
More Amber Tarot translation exercise.

Read more... )
17 February 2017 17:43 - :(
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
My phone is developing little quirks, like its browser not posting to Facebook and not reliably charge or connecting to my laptop. Sad me.
17 February 2017 17:12 - Waiting for the bus
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
I became aware something was watching me. It was the feral cat I feed. I was at Krug and Lancaster, four blocks from where I feed it. And it was farther up Krug than I was. How big is this cat's range?
17 February 2017 14:59 - question
yhlee: red and black tentacle heart pendant (tentacle heart)
Howdy!

I have a general fictional relationship question: when you look for signs that a fictional couple (or moresome) really cares about each other, what...do you look for? I am so stuck. My idea of a declaration of love is "Let's have sex!", which, uh, lacks subtlety.

(I'm aware of the languages of love research and am foxed as to how to apply it to the characters I need to apply it to.)

(I have writing reasons to be mad-last-minute researching this. Too bad I can't send this character to a chocolate store. He and his lover are on a spaceship at war.)
17 February 2017 09:28 - A More Specific Grievance
rachelmanija: (Fowl: Evil Chicken)
This post is about the blackmailer, harasser, bully, and maker of death threats known by the remarkably apt name of Requires Hate. She has a ridiculous number of other socks and pseudonyms, such as Winterfox (her former LJ handle), Benjanun Sriduangkaew (her pro writer identity), Lesifoere (spewer of repulsive transphobic slurs), and at least four or five more. There may be others which are still unknown. It would not surprise me in the slightest if she had a second career threatening people in, say, the hamster fancier community, under twenty different vicious sock identities.

She harassed me for years and is still doing it; she carried on elaborate campaigns to destroy the careers of other pro writers in her genre; she befriended people and then blackmailed them; the list goes on. As far as anyone can tell, she's devoted her entire life to being horrible, online and off, for a minimum of twelve years now.

I have encountered a lot of mean people in my life. But Winterfox is the only person I've ever known who makes people miserable as a full-time job. I literally do not know how she finds the time to bully as many people as she does, as constantly as she does. She could afford to bankroll organizations protecting human rights or rescuing orphan kittens. She could create her own publishing house. She could go on really awesome long vacations. But no. She just hunches over her computer 24-7, spewing vitriol in all directions.

I think we need a word that means "pathetic and a little bit darkly funny, but also genuinely harmful." I suggest "winterfoxy."

So why am I posting now? What's new?

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Winterfox is still doing everything she used to do, as far as I can tell. She still makes death threats. The people she blackmailed are still being blackmailed. She still harasses me in the exact same way she always did: I review a comic book about gay men in Iran, she accuses me on Twitter of being a child abuser.

At least, I assume she's still attacking me. I have asked (and still ask) people to not inform me if they see her saying anything about me. Since I don't do Twitter anyway, this means I miss about 99% of her activities and so only randomly and occasionally hear about it when she lies about or abuses me. Last time was about six months ago, so I imagine I'm due. Bring it, Winterfox. If you tweet about me a thousand times, I'll probably hear about one of them. I'm sure you'll find that motivational.

I am writing about her again for a couple reasons. One is to link to a surprisingly funny (considering the subject matter) essay by my friend, fantasy author Zen Cho, Being an Itemized List of Disagreements . Another is a thoughtful and heartfelt post by another friend, artist and writer M Sereno, A Letter to Apex Editors . Both were written to protest the embrace of a vicious and destructive bully, protect vulnerable people from her, and alert people who might not know exactly who they're dealing with to her past and current activities.

That's also why I posted. (So linking is fine.) Winterfox doesn't scare me any more. She's way too much of a coward to risk hiring a hit man, let alone confronting me in person. Anyone who believes I'm a child abuser or pro-rape or whatever because some rando on Twitter said so is not only not someone whose opinion I care about, they probably don't even know who the hell I am. I don't go to science fiction conventions, so she can't get me ostracized there. There's really nothing she can do to harm me.

But there are other people she can harm. There are people she is harming right now. She and her supporters make the science fiction world unwelcoming to her targets, who are disproportionately women of color. They also make it unwelcoming to onlookers who see people like them getting abused with impunity and even applause, and decide to go elsewhere. Not fucking okay, Winterfox supporters!

Sometimes life hands you difficult and complex ethical problems in which the right thing to do is genuinely unclear. This is not one of them. If you are endorsing someone whose big contribution to your field is to tell women of color that they should be raped by dogs, you are not one of the good guys.

I'm not calling for a boycott of her fiction. I'm not even saying you should stop being buds with her, though if you are, for God's sake don't email her anything she could hold over you later. What I am saying is that you should not ostracize people on her account, join in on bullying, believe anything she says about anyone without checking it yourself, brush off her death threats, or invite her to a roundtable on intersectionality. For instance.

Also, if you see someone interacting with her who doesn't know her history, you might want to warn them. I told her once to stop verbally abusing people, and I have now been harassed by her for six years and counting. Others thought she was their friend, and are still being blackmailed by her. If people know about her and choose to interact with her anyway, that's up to them. But if they don't know, a heads-up might save them a world of trouble.

If you already totally agree with me and would like to get Winterfox's goat, I have some suggestions for ruining her day.

You could donate to Outright Action International . They do stellar work in international LGBTIQ rights. I raise money for them, and Winterfox attacks me every time I do it online. So clearly, donating to them would really annoy her.

You could buy some art from M Sereno. It's gorgeous, and I bet it would really piss Winterfox off to know that people are financially supporting and appreciating the work of someone who had the nerve to speak out about her. Especially, to continue the theme of queer rights, the lovely print "To Live."

You could buy Zen Cho's awesome books, ditto: Sorcerer to the Crown, The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo, Spirits Abroad, and The Terracotta Bride.

You could buy or review books by people she harasses and whose careers she's tried to destroy, and also by people who supported them. That list is very long so I'll just link to a few: The Grass King's Concubine by Kari Sperring, Serpentine by Cindy Pon, Glass Houses: Avatars Dance by Laura Mixon, To Shape the Dark (Feral Astrogators) by Athena Andreadis, Rosewater by Tade Thompson, The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin, Shadowboxer by Tricia Sullivan, The Red Tree by Caitlin Kiernan, Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord, Mindplayers by Pat Cadigan, and What Fates Impose (includes a story by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz).

I initially wasn't going to post more than just links to the other two posts. I'm seriously ill and didn't think I had the energy for either the writing of or the fallout from a post like this. But when I started, I realized that in fact, I'm sick enough that I really don't give a damn. Also, apparently thinking about Winterfox gives me some energy. The WTF factor alone could launch a thousand ships.

I realized something else, too. No matter how bad things get for me, I will always have one thing to be grateful for: at least I'm not Winterfox.
17 February 2017 07:33 - Book Review: Minotaur by J. A. Rock
hrj: (Default)
I review Minotaur by J.A. Rock

This is now what I point to when I say “I want books with beautiful writing.”
17 February 2017 09:30 - Cool Stuff Friday
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Friday has data on the brain…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

16 February 2017 23:41 - Blacklist 1.14-1.16
yhlee: chessmaster (chess pieces) (chessmaster)
cut for spoilers )
16 February 2017 23:58 - What a week I'm having
sovay: (Claude Rains)
The funny thing about Eugene Levy in Ron Howard's Splash (1984) is that I barely remember noticing him as a child. He wasn't like John Candy, whom I almost forgot existed until I saw the film again in my early twenties, but his obnoxious, obsessed marine biologist—Walter Kornbluth, whose Muppet-grade eyebrows could be seen even behind his chunky black-framed nerd glasses—did not go into the same indelible memory file as Daryl Hannah's Madison reading antique maps in a sunken galleon or unfurling her fins in a salt-filled bath by night. He was part of the plot. He was the antagonist. I acknowledged his heel face turn in the third act, but by then it was more important that the heroes were trying to get away from sneering Dr. Ross and surprising quantities of the U.S. military.1 The painful physical comedy that was Walter's moral comeuppance was more confusing than anything else. It was only on adult rewatch that he became sympathetic to me, holding his cheap copy of the Star Confidential with its front-page picture of the woman who walked naked out of the sea at the Statue of Liberty, with none of his colleagues willing to look him in the face and Dr. Ross contemptuously cutting him down; it is the kind of redirection that always interests me when it works, because after all the time we have spent watching Kornbluth shout and stalk and shove his way through the script, a bristling, defensive, abrasive man whose dreamer's sense of a sea with more in it than heaven and earth, Horatio, has strangled into a short-sighted fixation on proving the existence of mermaids, it is unexpectedly no pleasure to see him reduced to the picture his colleagues hold of him—a crackpot, a nobody, a know-nothing, a fool—swallowing wordlessly as there go the last rags of his reputation and even his old teacher laments that his best student has turned out a schmuck. He sits afterward with his head in his hands, knowing exactly how he sounds and unable to let his siren song go: "She has legs out of the water, she has fins in the water—you taught me that, Dr. Zidell, don't you remember? You taught me all the legends. You used to bring me into your office. You used to show me charts on the walls of where sailors had claimed they saw mermaids." For the first time we hear something other than short temper and monomania in his voice, the precocious student who became a scientist for the same reasons as many a scholar before him, searching for the mystery off the edges of the map—Heinrich Schliemann wreathing his wife in Helen's gold, Arthur Evans excavating for the Minotaur. Of course, Schliemann blasted down through multiple Troys to get to the one that felt true to him and Evans poured concrete all over his Minoan fantasy. Sea-struck Walter is the hero's tarnished mirror, tangled up in his own issues like drift nets and drag lines. He'll have to flounder out of them before he can help anyone, including the people he hurt in his self-centered quest for vindication, and I suppose it's an occupational hazard of being the quasi-villain in an '80's romantic comedy that he incurs a broken arm, a neck brace, and various bruises and contusions in the process. "Six fun-filled days," Madison answered when asked how long she would be in New York City, how long ashore, "six days . . . and the moon is full." Walter gets beaten up twice by the same angry couple, accidentally Novocaines his own leg, tumbles through a basement window: "What a week I'm having!"

Anyway, this afternoon I saw the same doctor for the second time in three days and was prescribed a steroid inhaler to help with the coughing fits and the fact that I've basically got asthma until the bronchitis clears; then in aggressive self-care [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel and I went for dinner at Five Horses and I bought the secondhand trade paperback of Cole Haddon's The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde (2011) from Comicazi that I'd been thinking about for the last month or so and all the time I'm walking with a cane, intermittently coughing myself blue, and speaking at a whisper when I can talk at all, and about the third or fourth time I summed up the situation to a stranger with "It's been a terrible week," I realized I was hearing plaintive, aggrieved Eugene Levy. At least none of me is currently in a cast. Don't be ironic, universe.

1. If the hair and the leggings and the incredibly young Tom Hanks didn't signal its decade, Splash is immediately identifiable as American science fiction of the 1980's by the way the third act comes down to a chase scene with the government. The last time I watched this movie in 2010, I had to reassure a five-year-old that the American Museum of Natural History is really not in the habit of snatching people off the streets and experimenting on them, even if they do have fins. The movie remains an unparalleled source for dramatic shots of the old Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, however, and the reason that I along with an entire generation learned how to say "Hey, babe! I got a twelve-inch penis!" in Swedish at an entirely inappropriate age.
16 February 2017 19:58 - sketch of the day
yhlee: wax seal (Default)


Your daily catten! I opted not to draw it but she's nesting in a pile of laundry.

Ink: Noodler's Brown #41.
Pen: Pelikan M200 demonstrator, Binder artist's nib.
16 February 2017 18:51 - this plaguey throat
rushthatspeaks: (Default)
I've had an appalling sore throat for about a week-- living entirely on ice cream, which is not fun despite how it sounds-- and the doctor yesterday diagnosed me with strep.

Quite annoyed about this, as I was pretty sure I was immune to strep. People all around me in my childhood would keep breaking out with it, and I never had so much as a sniffle. At one point literally half of my (tiny) elementary school class had strep, and I was not among them. Either something has changed, or it was lying in wait until it could be really nasty.

Luckily, the baby can't get it. The doctor said children of under a year old can't, which is entirely for the best.

Unluckily, this is a weekend in which multiple people I don't see often are going to be in town, and, with the exception of B, who is going to stay in our house, it looks as though I shall continue not seeing them. Sigh.

The doctor visit was kind of hilarious, actually, because it was a sick visit for me and a well visit for the baby, and he did both at the same time, which went something like this:

DR.: ... and you have such great muscle tone, yes you do, let me just turn you over onto your front, so strep is highly contagious and you should avoid large crowds, look at that neck control, wow, sit down before you fall down because you have over a degree of fever which is pretty serious in an adult, oh, hey, you are so close to being able to turn over from front to back, that's so great, no, seriously, go to bed and make whatever arrangements are necessary to stay there...

I could mostly tell which one of us he was talking to, but he never stopped using cooing-at-the-baby voice the entire time, and I'm not sure which one of us he exhorted to take care of the other at the end, or whether he genuinely meant to address it to both.

Anyway, I am feeling terrible. If you've come across anything interesting or funny or cute or at least not related to the flaming political trash-fire lately, now would be a wonderful time for a link.
hrj: (Default)
This Sunday (February 19, 4pm) come on out to Laurel Bookstore for a reading and discussion by six Bella Books authors, including yours truly. See link for details.
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Introduction

This is the second chunk of data and analysis from the 2016 Novelist Income Survey. (Part one is here.)

I wanted to focus next on large press vs. small press vs. indie/self-publishing. The goal is not to settle the neverending argument about which route is better, because that’s a silly argument, and I’m not going to waste time on it.

Analyzing income data this way was tricky for several reasons. What qualifies as a large press vs. a small press? What about hybrid authors who choose multiple paths? And how does the self-selected nature of this study’s participants skew results?

The survey asked how many books you published with a large publisher, a small publisher, and through self-publishing in your lifetime, and how many books you published with a large publisher, a small publisher, and through self-publishing in 2016. Respondents used their own judgement to decide what large/small/self-published meant with respect to their work.

The majority of authors qualified as hybrid, with books in more than one category. So for this analysis, I looked at how each author had published the majority of their books during their lifetime. For example, with 12 books through large publishers, 1 small-press, and 1 self-published novel, my personal data went into the Large Publisher bucket. Someone with 4 large press, 5 small press, and 2 self-pubbed would be in the Small Publisher bucket.

(I also ran the same analysis looking only at 2016 publications, and the results were nearly identical. We lost some data there though, since a number of people had zero books out in 2016.)

As for the self-selection part? I cast my net as wide as I could, but that net went out mostly through writing boards and email lists and social media. Someone who self-published a single book as a hobby or for the fun of it would be less likely to hear about the survey. Likewise, authors who published a lot in the past but aren’t actively writing/publishing today wouldn’t necessarily be “in the loop” for this stuff. I can’t say exactly how this affected the data; only that, as I mentioned yesterday, it isn’t a truly random or representative sample. But with 381 authors weighing in, I still think it’s a pretty good one.

Overview

Here’s where our 381 authors fell on the large/small/indie scale:

  • Primarily Large Press: 114
  • Primarily Small Press: 55
  • Primarily Indie: 212

Pie Chart: Large/Small/Indie

Again, keep in mind that the information here is correlation, not causation. Deciding whether to try to publish with a large publisher, a small press, or to self-publish is so much more than just looking at the data from a single survey. Each path requires a lot of work, and I strongly recommend everyone do their research before deciding what’s going to work best for them.

Let’s Talk Money!

I started by looking at the gross income (before expenses) for each category. Well, that’s not entirely true. I really started by doing a poll on Twitter to ask people which group they thought would have the highest net income. I figured that could let us tap into common beliefs and compare them to the data. Here’s what the informal Twitter results had 74% of people expecting Large Press authors to be the biggest money-makers. Self-published came in second place, with 17%. Small Press was at 9%.

Twitter Poll Results

Before we look at the net, let’s start with gross income numbers. As before, I think the median is the most useful figure here, since the very successful outliers tend to skew the averages. Median gross income for each category was:

  • Large Press: $28,000
  • Small Press: $2,400
  • Indie: $29,000

Average income followed a similar pattern.

Median and Average IncomesI don’t think those numbers should come as a shock to most people. But they’re not the whole picture, either. We need to look at the expenses for each category as well. Self-published authors cover the costs of things like cover art, copy-editing, and so on, things a commercial press takes care of for its authors. Then there’s marketing and publicity and conventions and all the rest…

A handful of people left this question blank. They’ve been omitted from this part. If someone reported a 0 for this question, they were included.

The median expenses for each category were:

  • Large Press: $2,900
  • Small Press: $1,000
  • Indie: $4,000

Median and Average ExpensesHow does this affect the net income? Indie authors still have the largest median income, which was predicted by only 19% of the folks in our informal Twitter Poll. The large press authors once again take the highest average. (I think this is mostly because of one large press author whose income was significantly higher than any others.)

Here are those numbers, with median first and average in parentheses.

  • Large Press: $19,000 ($125,021)
  • Small Press: $975 ($19,166)
  • Indie: $23,050 ($108,210)

Net Income: Median and AverageChange From 2015

One of the questions I asked was whether people’s writing income had increased, decreased, or stayed roughly the same from 2015 to 2016. I think it’s encouraging that 53% of all respondents saw an increase, with another 20% reporting that their income remained roughly the same. Writing novels tends not to be the most financially stable profession, but only 27% reported seeing their income decrease.

Income Change Pie ChartI wanted to see what happens when we separate it out. Maybe indie authors are seeing more growth than large press? Maybe small press is surging forward?

This got interesting. 60.4% of indie authors saw an increase in earnings, compared to 50.9% of small press and only 39.5% of large press authors. Only 17% of indie authors saw their earnings decrease, compared to 27.3% of small press and 23.7% of large press.

Income Change by Author TypeLike I said, I’d be careful about drawing broad-sweeping conclusions from any of this, but it’s certainly an encouraging sign for my indie author friends. Realistically, though? Given the economy, the fact that all three groups saw more increases than decreases is a very good thing.

Coming Soon

I’ve got a lot more data to play with. I want to look at factors like genre, hours/week spent writing, hours/week spent on promotion, total number of books published, how long ago the author started publishing, and more.

Short version: I have plenty to keep me busy in the coming days!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

16 February 2017 15:13
yhlee: I am a cilantro writer (cilantro photo) (cilantro writer)
Podcast interview with me on the Unreliable Narrators. About 35 minutes.
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