Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Paying it Forward

21 March 2015

[![Paying it Forward, Photo by Lizzy Gadd](/images/2014/08/KGcbEHoSLmcHyhqA2nfl_76591_667052060003591_1045050051_n-700x464.jpg)](/images/2014/08/KGcbEHoSLmcHyhqA2nfl_76591_667052060003591_1045050051_n.jpg)Photo by [Lizzy Gadd](

Fandom (and I mean greater extended fandom, not just science fiction fandom) has had various ways of paying it forward for decades. In fact, TAFF, the trans-atlantic fan fund, has been around since 1953.
What’s harder to find are those opportunities to transition from serious amateur to professional. Sure, there are Clarion (and Clarion West) scholarships, and various other programs to help get people over that hump. However, there are vastly more people qualified for them (and needing them) than there is money to go around.
Which is why I’m so excited by Lori Witt’s offer for romance writers: to fund (sans airfare) attendance for one new romance writer to RT Booklovers convention for 2016.> The thing is, the authors who stand to benefit the most from a convention like this often struggle to justify the expense. The very people who need to increase their sales and exposure the most are the ones who generally struggle to pay for it because they need those increased sales to fund the means for increasing those sales. It’s a frustrating paradox! The really awesome swag is expensive. The most visible and eye-catching advertisements and posters are expensive. Just being there is expensive.

How expensive? Look at what Lori’s offering to cover:

From the essays, I will select a group of finalists, and with the help of a group of published authors, determine a winner and two runners up. The number of finalists and the size of the panel will be determined based on the number of qualifying entries.
The two runners up will each receive $150 toward swag or advertising.
And for the winner, I will pay for the following:

  • Your conference registration as a published author (approximately $500).
  • Your hotel room for the duration of RT (April 12-17, 2016 – 5 nights) at the conference hotel.
  • $250 toward custom, professionally produced swag.
  • $250 toward an advertisement of your choice.
  • One celebratory drink at the bar.

In addition to financial assistance, I will provide a guest spot on my blog for a follow-up post about your experiences at RT. Also, one-on-one guidance at the convention. This means help with pitches, going over the agenda to decide which panels and workshops will be most helpful for your goals, helping you set up and prepare for the book signing, generally navigating the conference, etc. This part is entirely optional, but is there if you need it.

Applications close August 1. Here’s the link to Lori’s blog post.
Maybe you don’t qualify, or this doesn’t fit, but you’d like to support Lori in some other way. She writes M/M romance under the name L.A. Witt, and sf/f (that’s not romance) under Lori A. Witt.
Now, granted, RT Booklovers is far more of a professional convention than anything other than World Fantasy in the science fiction/fantasy space.

How Not to Pay it Forward: The Unsplash Edition

Unsplash had become one of my favorite free stock photo sites. They have good taste. The range is limited (partly because they publish 10 photos every 10 days), but the photos are interesting.
However, there’s a darker side to it. Previously, they did nothing with submitted but not accepted photos. Then, suddenly, they decided to create a photographer page with all the submitted photos, killing the chance the photographer had to sell those particular shots for money.
As if that weren’t enough, instead of linking to the photographer’s site, now they just link to their own portfolio page. So the people who did the work are getting name credit, but they’re not getting the referrals. Because so many people link to Unsplash, very often the photographers’ own sites are pushed off the top search results as a consequence.
I’ve used about a dozen Unsplash photos here (including the one up top), and I’ll be deleting all references to the site as well as making sure all credits point to the photographers’ respective pages.
(To be clear, most of the free stock photos I’ve used in my blog posts came from Unsplash. I’ve also used regular stock photos that I’ve paid for, but I’ve used more of my own photos.)
While I’m going to reuse previously-uploaded photos, I’m not sure how I feel about uploading new ones at this point, even though I have a saved library. Unsplash’s actions feel like slapping someone who offered a gift, you know?
It’s a particularly tough time for photographers right now, and Aleksandra Boguslawska speaks more about how Unsplash’s actions hurt photographers.

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How I Discovered My Coconut Allergy

14 March 2015

Coconut-covered praline
It started innocently enough. My dad and I used to go out to see new science fiction and fantasy movies on release night. The same day we went to go see Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards, I received a sample of a new shampoo in the mail.
I washed my hair…and spent most of the movie sneezing. I’d become allergic to shampoo. I’d remain in denial about this for quite a few years. As you do.
I can’t remember what my brand of choice was at the time—probably Breck—but I soon discovered that I’d become allergic to any shampoo before I finished the bottle. Worse, it was beginning to get more and more difficult to find new kinds of shampoo.

Ever Really Studied a Shampoo Label?

Yeah, neither had I, at least not before. After checking three I’d recently become allergic to and seeing no obvious ingredients in common, I just figured it was something I had to suffer with.
One day, when I was more flush with cash and in an experimental mindset, I started rotating shampoos. Around about this time, I also discovered that rinsing alone would help reduce the number of times I needed to shampoo, and thus make a bottle last that much longer. Somehow, there did seem to be a frequency-of-use component to developing an allergy to a specific shampoo.
Even after not using a shampoo for one, five, ten years—I’d still be allergic. I loved phrases like “New and Improved,” though, because sometimes they meant a new enough formulation that it was new to my immune system, too.
Some shampoos I was allergic to on first use, though I could usually tell those by smelling them in the store. And yes, I was one of those people, and I hope you understand why.
Worse, once I was allergic to one bottle from a given line, it was generally true that I couldn’t use a different scent in the same line.

Then I Married a Soap Chemist

My first husband, Richard, had been a soap chemist at Lever Bros, and asked me about my fixation on a large array of shampoo products. He didn’t particularly care about the cast-offs—more for him, after all—but it sounded like a challenge to him. We went through the store one day, and I told him all the brands I’d tried. (I’d in fact tried many more than were stocked in Northeastern Vermont.)
He started writing down ingredients and comparing them, and he was fascinated by all the sulfates (e.g., sodium laureth sulfate). “These are pretty harsh,” he said. I believe he said they were lathering agents, but he’s now dead, so I can’t exactly ask him about it.
We started looking for shampoos that contained none of the sulfates, and all I could find at first was a pet shampoo. It left my hair blah looking, but I was able to finish the bottle without developing an allergy. Hooray! I just…was too embarrassed to admit what kind of shampoo I’d been using.
Eventually, I discovered that a lot of the organic groceries stocked sulfate free shampoos, so I’d occasionally find a bottle here and there, and use those. These days, Trader Joe’s, Burt’s Bees, and many other places have sulfate-free shampoos. Yay!

But That’s Only Half the Coconut Story

About the time Richard died, I’d been on an elimination diet, suspecting gluten issues. I discovered that I had major problems with gluten. (I’ve never received a formal celiac diagnosis, but it’s presumed. There are long-standing reasons for this, and getting a formal diagnosis is complicated once you’ve been gluten-free for a long time.)
I’d never really bonded with Indian or Thai food. Part of it is the fact that I don’t like all the spices, but part of it is that I’ve just felt sick after eating it. Or ill. Or sometimes both. I kept assuming that the restaurants I was visiting were simply lying about the contents and I was getting secretly glutened.
Then a new book about Indian cooking came out, called Five Spices. One of the recipes was printed in the paper, and Rick cooked it. Indian food I liked that didn’t make me sick! It was a revelation.

A Chance Conversation

I happened to be talking to someone about my shampoo allergy one day, and she said, “Oh, you’re allergic to the coconut-based ingredients.”
I started paying more attention to what kinds of Indian and Thai food made me sick, and it pretty much all involved coconut in some form (e.g., curry).
See, one of the problems of coconut (any food ingredient, really): just because it tastes like coconut doesn’t mean it actually contains coconut. Inversely, just because it doesn’t taste like coconut doesn’t mean you can safely eat it. So it can be really hard to learn from good/bad food interactions what the problem ingredients actually are.
And, until someone shed light on the problem, I’d never assumed my shampoo allergy had anything to do with a dietary problem. Strange, I know, especially given I knew people who had both contact allergies and dietary allergies to various ingredients.
A few years ago, I went to an Indian place in Liverpool (in the UK), and was able to safely navigate the waters of an Indian restaurant menu. Progress!

It’s a Lot Easier Now

Sometimes, I forget to ask questions, like when we went out recently for vegan with friends, and I forgot to ask what the base for the ice cream was. (Fortunately, that tasted like coconut, and I didn’t get sick because I caught it right away.)
There are a lot of great sulfate-free shampoos out there, too, so that’s less of a problem.
On the other hand, when I saw all the signs in Maui for food trucks with “ice cold coconut,” it made me sad that I couldn’t have one of my very own.

A List of Coconut Derivatives

After I posted this, this page linked to my tweet announcing the post. If only I’d had that page in 1994-1995. Sigh.
It does tell me there are some medications I should probably avoid, and one of them is a common cough syrup ingredient. 🙁
And here’s a great blog from another person with a coconut allergy.

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Ellora's Cave: Royalty Statement Missing Column

12 March 2015

When I looked at Cat Grant’s statements from Ellora’s Cave (link to one), I noticed that the statement contained the following columns:

  1. ISBN
  2. Book Name
  3. Book type (e.g., ebook or paper)
  4. Store (e.g., Amazon UK)
  5. Per Unit (which I interpret to mean the amount received from EC from that vendor for that line item per copy sold)
  6. Quantity Sold
  7. Total Received (5 times 6)
  8. Royalty % (which is not shown as a percentage)
  9. Royalty paid (7 times 8)

That’s missing a very important column to be able to audit the royalties received. I happened to mention this to someone last night and, well, mind blown.
Sale Price at the vendor in question.
Sorry I didn’t think to post about it earlier. I’m one of those people who notices holes in things, and I kinda forget that other people don’t always.
Here’s one of my royalty statements.
Note the second column: Price, meaning the suggested retail price for a book, or the price at a given vendor.
That’s absent from Ellora’s Cave’s statements.
So, what you can’t see on EC’s statements are what the spread between price (for a given vendor) and “per unit” are. Meaning: how much, as a percentage of the price, is Ellora’s Cave actually receiving? (Or claiming to receive?)

  1. Is that spread in line with industry norms?
  2. Is that spread consistent from month to month?
  3. Has the price changed over time?
  4. If so, has the spread followed those price changes?

Without the price information, you just can’t determine that.
Ellora’s Cave apparently figures that that’s none of its authors’ business, and they should not worry their collective pretty little heads over it. Personally, I disagree.

Then There Are Worldwide Pricing Issues…

I’ve previously mentioned EC’s distribution issues, but that also feeds into the point about price, as each market may or may not have a different price for an Ellora’s Cave title. On top of that, I only looked at US markets in that post; there are many, many more.

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Ellora's Cave: Jaid Black/Tina Engler Flounces off Twitter

12 March 2015

Ellora’s Cave founder Tina Engler (pseudonym: Jaid Black) flounced off Twitter after being called out on her Thomas Jefferson/Sally Hemings beliefs (that it was a romantic relationship and the two were married) and her transphobic comments.
Yesterday was quite the day. Too bad I screencapped the wrong stuff, missed half of the best stuff, and lost bandwidth entirely just as @pubnt returned.
The Anne Rice Facebook post issue was still going sideways.

The Thomas Jefferson/Sally Hemings Issue

So there’s a new book (short story length, apparently) about Thomas Jefferson and (his slave) Sally Hemings and their BDSM “relationship.” It’s paranormal.
Jaid Black/Tina Engler got involved in this one.

WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK? “historical context of the times” It’s called rape. 200 years ago IT WAS STILL RAPE!

— Jeanne (@fangirlJeanne) March 11, 2015


— Alisha Rai (@AlishaRai) March 11, 2015

And so did Jenny Trout, who doxed the hell out of it far more than I could on limited internet time/bandwidth while away from home.
The earlier start to this is last week’s Stephanie Dray incident, covered by Jeanne here and Aya de Leon here. Both cover a lot of similar ground, but both are worth reading. Updated to add this link: Roslyn Holcomb? What she said.
Today’s piece that ties all of these things together, though, complete with a neat little bow, is this one from Moonlight Reader:

And that, my friends, is the hill that Anne Rice has chosen to die on. She hates Jenny Trout so much that she will support that crap over Jenny. And she hates the “bullies” so much than anything that they think is bad, she must go on record as calling good. Even if that thing that is “good” is a disgusting rape fic about a 14-year-old black enslaved person who was raped by her 44 year old white owner for decades.

And, in related news:

Anne Rice’s pro STGRB thread on Amzn was deleted; apparently targeting customers for an attack is NOT OK. #notchilled

— Karlyn P (@KarLyn_P) March 11, 2015

Getting Back to Thomas Jefferson for a Moment…

About Thomas Jefferson and his slaves: the Marquis de Lafayette bequeathed TJ money so he could afford to free his slaves. TJ didn’t.

— Deirdre Saoirse Moen (@deirdresm) March 11, 2015

Correction: it was Thaddeus Kosciuszko.

@deirdresm @smscotten I looked it up. The money was from Thaddeus Kosciuszko.

— At a Glance Romance (@ataglanceRMC) March 12, 2015


First, let’s have a trans* man speak, shall we?

Trans people fight “Bathroom Bills” with restroom selfies in #WeJustNeedToPee viral campaign:

— Logo TV (@LogoTV) March 12, 2015

Jaid Black/Tina Engler also showed her transphobic ass yesterday.

@courtneymilan @suleikhasnyder this was my favorite part.

— Alisha Rai (@AlishaRai) March 11, 2015


Don’t say you’re 100% for trans rights when you think this is the definition of being trans.

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) March 11, 2015


TW for transphobia: Don’t tell me you “100% support trans rights” when you liked this post on Facebook.

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) March 11, 2015

There’s more, but I didn’t screencap it all.
First: what Courtney said.
I wrote a piece last year about my evolution in thinking about transgender folks. About three decades ago, when I first learned about trans issues, pretty much everyone was railroaded into being pre-op or post-op.
The trans* community doesn’t all fit into neat categories that cis people like Tina Engler/Jaid Black define, though. Nor should they.
Hell, Jaid’s definitions don’t even cover a lot of the biologically intersexed, which my husband covered rather well in an essay on the definitional problems of “man” and “woman”. While this was written to point out how flawed Prop 8 was, every bit is just as true today.

And then the Flounce.

Tired of being called out (for good reason), Tina Engler decided to delete the @JaidBlack Twitter account.

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Ellora's Cave: Tina Engler Claims I'm Pubnt

08 March 2015

Yep, you heard right. Given that Tina Engler says that, I propose a wager.
As a comment on Anne Rice’s Facebook post, Tina Engler/Jaid Black said the following:

Well to be honest Anita, my mom & I believe it’s [@pubnt is] one of you. That D— who keeps a color-coded spreadsheet tracking my every breath lives in San Francisco. I’ve never been to SF & don’t know anyone who lives there. (Purposefully edited so I don’t get accused of more “doxing.”[)]

Look, I’m pitifully easy to dox, and I do not live in San Francisco. Further:

  1. I’m not @pubnt, never have been.
  2. I still believe that @pubnt is solely or mostly Tina Engler.
  3. I believe, if it’s not Tina, that Tina and Patty Marks know perfectly well who @pubnt is—which is why Ellora’s Cave didn’t add @pubnt to their witness list like the defense did.

Personally, if someone not affiliated with my company started tweeting about business and legal strategy in the middle of a lawsuit, I’d be all over that. Which is one reason why it’s so curious Ellora’s Cave has not been.
The color-coded “spreadsheet” (sic) I keep is the court case docket that has nothing to do with Tina personally. If Ellora’s Cave and/or Tina Engler didn’t want me to keep a color-coded docket, maybe they shouldn’t have sued Dear Author.

Ellora’s Cave, I Call Your Bluff

So here’s the deal, Ellora’s Cave and Tina Engler/Jaid Black.
If you’re so convinced that I’m @pubnt, feel free to subpoena Twitter asking for a comparison of @deirdresm’s and @pubnt’s IP addresses and identifying information.
I’ll waive any privacy issues at the Twitter end on one condition….
That, when you’re proven wrong, you agree to do the following:

  1. Put on the top of Ellora’s Cave’s home page in the first slider right up at the top an apology to me and include a link to my Ellora’s Cave posts, and
  2. Do the same on the top of Jaid Black’s website and blog, and
  3. Both for a duration of no less than four months and thirteen days (the amount of time we had to endure @pubnt’s nonsense). Longer if @pubnt ever shows her face again.
  4. Failure to do so will cost $500 per day (plus collection and/or court costs) per site for every day you don’t display said apology.

So, Tina Marie, how about it?

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KDSPY (formerly Kindle Spy): Amazon Market Research Tool

06 March 2015

A few weeks ago, I slipped in a stealth screencap from an Amazon keyword research tool I use—Wesley Atkins’s KDSPY (formerly called Kindle Spy).
Amazon searches provides a lot of interesting information if you’re an Amazon customer, but if you’re an author or publisher, KDSPY will let you know a lot more than Amazon will tell you. Like:

  • Not only how well your own marketing is working, but you can track how much any Kindle author’s marketing converts into Kindle sales with the Rank tracking feature.
  • Look at entire groups of books, their rankings and estimated revenue at once.
  • Export information to a spreadsheet so you can watch over time.

You can use it as a tool for estimating whether to write book A or B next, for example. Or whether now is a good time, market-wise, to publish something you’ve been waiting for the right time to publish.

Get KDSPY Here

Amazon-Keyword-Tips-smIf you buy KDSPY through my link, you’ll also get my own short PDF: Amazon Keywords Tricks & Tips, which will give you some insider secrets into making your book more findable via Amazon’s search. And we all know, you can’t buy something you can’t find….

The Obligatory KDSPY Screenshot

This is the top 20 Amazon hits for the phrase “new adult romance” on Amazon as of the time I took the screenshot. After I loaded the page in Amazon, I clicked on the KindleSpy icon in Chrome’s toolbar.
There are a few interesting things to note:

  1. The bestsellers don’t always come first. The top hits, especially the top 2, are ranked based on newness, generally. Half of the first sixteen hits were released in the last few weeks. This “new book” preference rank ensures a lot of freshness at the front, which makes it more interesting for buyers who are, as many romance readers are, heavy readers. The effect lasts 30 days, and it really hurts when that wears off. Also, relevance counts for a lot, and relevance is partly based upon keywords.
  2. The T, S, and C columns aren’t self explanatory. T means look at that single title in Amazon, S means do a web (Google) search with those terms, and C means do a Google image search on the cover image.
  3. The estimated sales is just that—estimated sales, based upon an educated guess and the book’s current sales rank. It is a moment in time.
  4. Sales revenue is the estimated sales times the current sales price. Note that this is also a guesstimate: that high-ranking book with a big sales revenue may have been free until yesterday, and may still be coasting on a big free bump.
    Also worth noting: a borrow for a Kindle Unlimited book will bump your sales rank, but it won’t actually pay out until the reader’s read 10% of the book, which may never happen. The amount it pays out is not fixed. Essentially the pool of payable borrows is divided into the subscription fees for KU—and every author gets a surprise.
  5. Columns are sortable. So if you really want to see how well a book of similar length to yours are doing, you can sort on that.
  6. KDSPY loads 20 books at a time, but you can load 100 total.

KDSPY’s a Chrome or Firefox browser extension, and it works on any Amazon Kindle searches.

Get KDSPY Here

Amazon-Keyword-Tips-smIf you buy KDSPY through my link, you’ll also get my own short PDF: Amazon Keywords Tricks & Tips.

Note: Wesley’s other products are really more for non-fiction writers wanting to write to profitable niches.

Also, there are other tools for Amazon keyword research, and I’ll write about them at some other time.

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World Music Friday: Ledward Ka'apana

06 March 2015

Ledward Ka'apana and his guitar
I’ve decided to turn my love of world music into a regular Friday feature, with Ledward Ka’apana being my first. In general, I’ll be featuring a few videos or songs from each performer, and, for vocals, I’ll emphasize performers who do not sing primarily in English. The other aspect is that this will be popular music in various genres.
I remember back when I worked at Classic Vacations on the Hawai’i desk being thrilled that I finally was able to use my love of Hawai’i in my day job. I went to a local Hawai’ian store, Sun Jose Hawaii (sadly now closed), and went to their music room.

“I learned all my slack key in Kalapana because in Kalapana, we never had any electricity. Yeah, everything was run by kerosene.” (dramatic pause) “First guitar I had was run by kerosene.” —Ledward Ka’apana

Even though most of the wording was in English, and I knew some Hawai’ian, I might as well have stepped into a music shop on another planet. I had no idea who any of these people were, and no idea how to find what I was looking for.
There was an instrumental section, and in that section, there was an album of Slack Key Guitar Masters, offering a smorgasboard of amazing artists. I picked up both volume 1 and 2. Out of all of those songs, I really fell for “Radio Hula” by Ledward Ka’apana. The following is a medley of it with another song (“Yellow Ginger Lei”):

Purchase links: studio: Amazon and iTunes · live: Amazon and iTunes
Note: both are different performances than the video.

One of the other songs I’ve liked Led’s performance of is Whee Ha Swing:

Purchase links: studio: Amazon and iTunes · Amazon and iTunes
Note: both are different performances than the video.

While Led’s primarily known as a slack key guitar master, he’s also a very accomplished ukelele player. In this video, he’s showing off one of his custom ukeleles, and it’s a beauty.

At the end, you hear him laugh, which brings me to the next topic….

Seeing Ledward Ka’apana Live

I’ve been really blessed to be able to see Led live a few times. If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend it. He laughs a lot, and clearly has a great deal of fun at his job, which is always marvelous to see. One time, his daughter danced hula for a couple of songs, and that was wonderful.
The other reason to see him is that he often performs with another slack key guitar artist, Mike Ka’awa. Mike is unique in that he plays 12-string slack key guitar. Here’s a picture of the two of them.
And, while I’m at it, here’s Mike performing one of my favorite songs, with Ledward Ka’apana on ukelele (including a uke solo). Sorry, I can’t embed that one because embedding’s disabled.
But, here’s another of the two of them performing No Ke Ano Ahiahi, which is my favorite of Mike Kaawa’s songs (though I prefer the studio version):

Purchase links: studio: Amazon and iTunes

What Is Slack Key Guitar?

I’ve known it was Hawai’ian my whole life, but I didn’t really realize how much it identified with private expressions of cultural heritage. These following two pull quotes are from this Wikipedia article on slack key guitar:

Slack-key guitar is a fingerstyle genre of guitar music that originated in Hawaii. Its name refers to its characteristic open tunings: the English term is a translation of the Hawaiian kī hōʻalu, which means “loosen the [tuning] key”. Most slack-key tunings can be achieved by starting with a guitar in standard tuning and detuning or “slacking” one or more of the strings until the six strings form a single chord, frequently G major.

I’d known that the guitar came along with Mexican cowboys during the early rancher days in the late 19th century, and that Hawai’ian cowboys are called paniolos.

The music did not develop a mainland audience during the Hawaiian music craze of the early 20th century, during which Hawaiian music came to be identified outside of Islands with the steel guitar and the ʻukulele. Slack key remained private and family entertainment, and it was not even recorded until 1946-47, when Gabby Pahinui cut a series of records that brought the tradition into public view.

It’s the second reason, combined with the fact that slack key didn’t really get mainstream penetration until the 1970s, that led to my not having grown up with slack key guitar. Despite the fact that I took hula lessons and heard a lot of Hawai’ian music, it was mostly of the Don Ho “Pearly Shells” variety (though, as with many recordings of that era, often the white cover artists got more airplay, as Burl Ives did with Pearly Shells).
I’d love to hear some of those amazing players who never got recorded. Sigh. On the flip side, this means that a great deal of slack key guitar music that’s been recorded is still available.


We’re in Hawai’i. Years ago (I think in 2011?), we paid for an NCL cruise around the Hawai’ian islands, and it had gotten to the “use it or lose it” time. So, here we are, about to board tomorrow.

Are you a slack key fan? If so, who are some of your favorite artists?

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A Requires Hate Update

04 March 2015

I posted something in November in haste, and I regret breaking one of my own rules in doing so.
That rule is: rely on your own research when calling people out.
Another thing I’ve become aware of since the Marion Zimmer Bradley story: I actually have a significant platform and need to be careful how I wield it.
Further, we were on sippy cup internet that week (like GPRS every once in a while) and, by the time we got back to normal internet, much of the context was already lost. So it wasn’t that easy to go back and see what happened.
Then a writer of color linked to a piece on the subject that made me think I’d been backing the wrong horse. But it needed research and I was sick, so I put it off. Sadly, that piece has since disappeared, as has another piece it pointed to.
I then added an update to this original post, but didn’t amplify it further, because I wasn’t sure what to say.
So I’m left with a gnarly mess where most of what I really need in order to get the big picture—is incomplete and temporally inconvenient.

Then I Got Called Out on Twitter

First, let me say this: it’s always appropriate to call me out. I’m pointed and direct, so that can be intimidating, but I will always respect it.

  1. I should not have jumped to conclusions based on a single source.
  2. It’s one thing posting things one’s unfamiliar with if they happen to be objective fact, but quite another when it’s not.
  3. I should know better after STGRB in particular that sometimes groups have ironic names.
  4. In general, I try to stay out of drawing conclusions based on what people are have alleged to have done, and instead try to focus on what happened. I didn’t do that, either.

I’m left with the distinctly discomfiting feeling that I should know more about what happened than I do.
I apologize to all I’ve hurt in this, directly and indirectly.

Update: Some Points of Clarification

  1. I didn’t mean to imply that Laura Mixon relied solely on one source. I meant that I had.
  2. This is not a recanting of my prior post. This is an, “I feel an obligation to look into this further because I posted about it in haste and therefore have a duty to the subject matter. And people.” Please don’t assume I’m taking a particular side. I’m simply going to do what I should have done before posting: look and listen.
  3. My usual way of working when there are disparate stories is to start from the position that all people are telling the truth as they know it, and that disparities of information are a part of almost all conflict.
  4. This is big and gnarly and I have a chronic spoon shortage. I may be at this for quite some time, and I’m not starting on it for two weeks.
  5. I believe that pseudonymous and anonymous speech are important, but I believe they can (and should) have limits, too. (Here are some recent US court rulings on anonymous speech.)
  6. I don’t know that I can be impartial (ever, not just in this situation), but I always try to be fair.
  7. To the extent possible, I’ll rely on first-hand information.

(There’s more I wanted to say, but I’m just amazingly tired and in pain, and I need sleep too badly.)
If you wish to comment anonymously here, others have used an email address of It’s always moderated, and moderation may take a day or two over the next couple of weeks. Obviously, I get your IP address, but I have no intention of using it.

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Larry Niven: SFWA Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master

02 March 2015

SFWA’s just announced that Larry Niven is the newest SFWA Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master. I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Larry’s always been one of the more approachable big name writers. He and his wife Fuzzy often appear at conventions, especially in the Los Angeles area.
I remember when I first met him in person, back as an awe-struck twenty-something. My boyfriend and I were in Santa Rosa at a con in 1982. I had a dealer’s table selling game supplies, and he and Jerry Pournelle and their wives came by, pausing at my table to say hello.
Fuzzy wore a button that said, “Big Fan of Larry Niven.” Jerry’s wife didn’t wear a button, but Jerry wore one that said, “Big Fan of Jerry Pournelle.” Years later, it still makes me laugh.

I’m in an Anthology with Larry Niven

My short story, “A Sword Called Rhonda,” appeared in a collection that Larry Niven’s also in. Honestly? That was a big thrill for me.

About the Award

I’ve always wanted one of these. It does definitely mean I’ve gotten old. I’ve been publishing fiction for more than fifty years now. I’m convinced I picked the right career.” ~Larry Niven

Another Funny Larry Niven Anecdote

Larry can be incredibly quick witted. A lot of funny writers, well, we have to work at it over time. Larry’s written some amazingly funny stuff, including “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex”, about the problems of Superman having sex with human women.
A few years ago, I happened to be at a convention waiting for an elevator at the same time Larry was. I can’t remember why I had a bunch of “I’m not Jay Lake” ribbons, but I offered Larry one.
He declined, saying, “But I am Jay Lake.”
“It’s an office, not a person.”

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Marion Zimmer Bradley Update

01 March 2015

Related to my earlier post, I realized the Internet had an oops, and Stephen Goldin’s reference site of the Marion Zimmer Bradley and Elisabeth Waters depositions had poofed.
It is now back online, linked from my shiny new Marion Zimmer Bradley tl;dr page.
Note that I haven’t yet corrected the internal links because I needed something to correct them to first. Also, if anyone wants the archive site from Stephen Goldin’s site in its original form for archive purposes, let me know. (The robots.txt prohibited archiving.)
And now I need gluten-free brownies if anyone’s offering.

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