Beautiful characters

Have you ever noticed how often the characters of our novels and stories are beautiful?

What I find fascinating is, sometimes, they aren’t or at least aren’t explicitly described as such – we merely assume they are.

I think this has to do with escapism and romantic notions.

Too, I think it’s down to perceptions.

Now, it’s no good talking about the ruggedly handsome specimen of masculine archtypicality John Carter, Warlord of Barsoom.  I suppose there are reasons we could, he’s described in pretty fair detail so we could make and reject all manner of philosophical debates about it; especially since it’s never explicitly stated he’s supposed to be remarkably handsome, only the kind of handsome that comes from being a healthy and fit human with self-confidence.

I’m going to use my own writing for this, though, because they’re my characters so I know them intimately.

Sally, Lauren, their friends:  are they beautiful?

Oh sure, Sally describes Lauren as quite gorgeous repeatedly.  Thing is … is she a reliable narrator?  Most descriptions wherein Lauren is any remarkable beauty are (… wait for it …) from Salencia’s point of view!  Sally’s biased.  For one, Sally loves redheads.  Why?  Dunno, she just does.  My high school girlfriend was a redhead, and I’ll admit she had a certain charm, and my wife certainly loves my red hair, and for that matter a lot of women I know (men too, come to think of it) … I suppose it’s something about redheads.  Still, no one else describes her as beautiful beyond circumstantial points or when talking about her spirit and personality.

Lauren is not ugly, I would imagine, no.  Simply put it is hard not to be attractive when you are healthy, fit, and take a certain measure of care in your choice of hair and clothes not in regards to societal expectations, but rather in regard to what suit both your body and your personality.  Suffice to say, I do not have either the face shape nor personality to pull off a Pat Benatar or Joan Jett look, on me it’d be unattractive whereas on them it’s bloody stunning.  She is what she is, a petite redhead with freckles, and a demure hippie fashion sense, and the musculature of a dancer; she’s healthy, she’s trim … and it’s important to note that healthy is specific.  You can work out to the point of unhealthy, all muscle is not actually any better than all fat with regards to your overall health.  If coppertopped pygmies are attractive to you, then yes, Lauren is quite beautiful, but if you’re not into that then she generally falls into the realm of “cute”.

Sally, on the flip side, does trend toward more universally beautiful.  To each her own, not everyone digs the exotic skin tone, dark hair, etc.  But on general terms, while Lauren probably wouldn’t have much of a modelling career, Sally could.  She’s something between 5′ 6″ and 5′ 8″ (167 – 173 cm), proportioned like Shakira, with lots of leg, and features reminiscent of Aishwarya Rai (especially with regards to her hair); Sally could model pretty successfully (well, if she had the personality for it).

The rest actually aren’t described.  They’re as pretty or ugly as you’re comfortable picturing.  Though from my point of view the characters are all fairly attractive in that generic way that comes from good health.

I mention this because it’s an odd criticism that comes up about fiction, that the characters shouldn’t always be so spectacularly stunning to look at.  On principle, I agree.  I mean, Bilbo Baggins isn’t supposed to be some playboy with all the lady hobbits fawning over him, and maybe that puts an important detail into his character.  I also agree that some fiction goes too far and … just peruse some of the not-so-good fanfiction some time for easy access to an example (though the gods know there’s plenty of it on store shelves too).  Romances … okay, they’re given some leeway, for one thing they’re probably narrated from a POV that, like with Lauren, tends toward a bias, the rest is just tradition … for whatever reason, we’re happier with Westley and Buttercup than we are Miracle Max and his wife (whose name utterly escapes me now, even though she has one in the novel).  Still, I think, if we look strictly at the text as given, we find more cases where the characters aren’t especially pretty nor especially ugly; generally the heroes are going to need to be healthy and fit, so a measure of attraction comes with that, but beyond it … I think a lot of character beauty is perceived, not narrated.

Verity Price, for example?  Is she a Sally or is she a Lauren?  She’s in really good shape, and depending how you like the look she cultivates, you could probably go either way; but the real point is … nothing explicitly says one way or the other.  My vote is more of a Lauren.  Dominic, however, is more of a Sally.  He’s got the muscular Fabio-esque euro-hottie vibe turned up to 11 … well, until he talks, anyway.  (see: Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue Light Special.)

Now, to prove that it’s not always just the men who get to be the supreme hotties.  Let’s look at Barsoom.  Dejah Thoris is, admittedly, not explicitly described possibly to keep her look more timeless, since within Burroughs’ lifetime the epitome of feminine beauty had shifted a few times before he wrote that book.  Still we’re given enough to agree with his assessment, and little enough to fill in the blanks with our own opinion – in short, Dejah Thoris is the most beautiful woman on Mars both because you’re told she is, and because she’s put together in the right way to somewhat ensure this.  Our good gentleman, John Carter, on the other hand is described in detail.  Yeah, he’s got a lot of dashing hero tropes, so he’s going to be handsome in that fit fighting man kind of way; but he’s also described in rather generic terms.  He could be any of our brothers, fathers, sons, etc. if they only had spent so much of a lifetime relying on the strength of both their wit and arms to keep them alive.

What’s the point?  Why does it matter?

I’ve wondered that too, somewhat.  Why should it matter if there’re characters with crooked teeth, or characters with perfect teeth?  Both sides, in other words, confuse me.  Why are describing teeth unless it’s important?  At that point, they’re perfect or crooked based on the dictates of the character.  And, I’m sorry, but some people’s teeth grow in quite neatly without orthodontia (which, I might add has existed since the mummies were still being entombed in Egypt) so a pre-modern character can still have perfect teeth (just now you’ve a reason to mention it).

I don’t understand this idea of forcing “unattractiveness” on characters as some kind of Thing.  This idea that making all the characters flawless beautifies as some kind of Thing is equally strange.  Why can’t we just make characters people?  More importantly, why do we need to describe the characters in such tedious detail that the only explanation of why would have to be that we’re jumping up and down going “look! not conforming to unattainable standards of beauty!” or “lookit how pretty (s)he is!!”.  Oh, yeah, sometimes you gotta if the bloody point is how (un)attractive the character is.  But must you do so for everyone?

I’m starting to sidetrack myself with rambling.  Simply put:  who cares?!  Why should we care?  Lauren an Sally only need to be pretty to each other everything else is just decoration; Sally being so remarkably pretty was because that’s what she looked like when she popped into my head as a character … maybe I’d been looking at a lot of Bollywood and Tamil actresses at the time or something.  I mean, I don’t think it’s good writing to have every character be this flawless thing nor the opposite.  I also just don’t agree with everyone thinking someone is oh-so-gorgeous/ugly.  Even people who are considered “classic beauties”, in other words they fit the biological mould of healthy, good genes, fertility/virility, etc. like Marilyn Monroe, Aishwarya Rai, Chris Hemsworth, and Clark Gable aren’t universally adored as beautiful.  Some people really just have a thing for this hair colour or that, for darker or ligher skin, etc.  Also, Rodney Dangerfield was nothing much to look at, but as I recall the man was married and had children … clearly someone dug something about him, probably even found him attractive.

“Darling, did it ever occur to you that, if Salencia had a six foot nose covered in warts and no teeth and a squint and a great big hairy mole in the middle of her forehead, if you loved her then you’d still see her as beautiful? You’d see past the … mess to the person and heart inside and suddenly … well, very few happy and loving couples don’t think one another beautiful, quirky old songs notwithstanding.”

Excerpt From: Jaye Em Edgecliff. “Love or Lust.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/0Qu1N.l

Extremism.  It’s rarely good; not never or that’d be a paradox and therefore nonsense.  We should stop criticising works for having characters who are beautiful or not, and start looking at criticising the works that put big flashing neon signs over it needlessly.  Not even for the act itself, but rather for the sloppiness and laziness that it embodies.  Believe me, I’ve rarely met a story that was explicitly trying to make people stunning or hideous that wasn’t just all ’round badly written.  When telling a story it’s down to that balance thing.  Like Show vs Tell – sometimes you should have one, sometimes the other, generally a bit of an ambiguous blending of the two.

Word choice can make a real difference

assigned-maleNot that this is a unique problem to People, but this article is a perfect example of a pernicious issue in the way trans* people are discussed in the media or even by the people around us.

What’s so bad?  You might be asking that.  I mean look, they used the right pronouns, the right names, etc.  Whatever could they have done wrong, cake and pats on the back all ’round, yes?

Well … no.

Oh, bugger, they’ve edited it already!  Well, in that instance congratulations!  But as it’s important we’ll continue as if they hadn’t for rhetorical sake.

The original text had been:  “[…]Stephen was born a girl[…]”

Now, some people might not realise what’s wrong with that.  Well, that’s where we get to the importance of connotation, of perception, of what language does on a more psychological level.

In short, let’s discuss why we must choose our words wisely.  I’m in favour of accuracy in language.  Not the “concrete” imagery of some literature and “creative writing” courses that say you should never say ‘azure’ just say ‘blue’, no … that’s muddying the language.  I’m not talking about some aspects of the political correctness movement that wants to reword the language in idiotic ways that sound good to social justice ronins, but pisses off the groups that are being crusaded for who might prefer the “un-PC” term/phrase.  I’m talking about logical language analysis here.

Let’s look at that statement.  “Stephen was born a girl” or “Jaye was born a boy”.  First and foremost, it’s simply wrong and inaccurate.  He was not born a girl, if he were he would be a girl.  I was not born a boy, if I were I would be a boy.  He was assigned female at birth, and I was assigned male at birth.  Semantics?  No, very much not so.

The former states the inaccuracy as if it were a given fact.  It implies that we used to be X and have elected to become Y.  We have not.  It implies terrible things about trans* people that are a lot of the ignorance that lurks behind the bigotry and rejection we face.

The latter, on the other hand, that accepts and acknowledges us.  Not our “preferred” gender, not our “preferred” pronouns, not our “identified as” or anything of the sort.  It says that the doctors and parents made an assumption, regardless how statistically likely to be correct, based on the anatomy they found between our legs and that that assumption was mistaken.  No one is to blame, really, besides an arbitrary methodology, or an antiquated ID system that bothers with such idiot details before the child is old enough to answer if asked which they are, etc.  Not any person‘s mistake, and not anything wrong with the trans* individual, just a reason why such assumptions are no better than any other assumption.

Some people have never heard of transgender, transsexual, trans[whatever].  If the first time they do they see it as “Mary was born a boy, but when she was 16 …” or, worse, “Mary was born a boy, but when he was 16 …” they store the word as a choice.  They see it as “Mary was born to Catholic parents, but when she was 16 she converted to Buddhism …”.  But, if the first time they hear/read about a trans* person it is seen as exactly what it is.

Please don’t take this away just related to talking about trans* issues, not just for even LGBTQ+ issues.  Please take away from it that while, yes, I do think the political correctness movement and social justice movements, feminism, LGBTQIA+etc activism, and so on do go too far sometimes and more importantly that some people go too far … occasional extremists and periodic extremism does not change that we really ought to consider our language and our word choice.  “Sticks and stones …” et al is well and good, but sometimes the harm isn’t to the person as an individual; the harm in your words can be harm on a larger scale that impacts the person by dint of being part of the demographic you just hurt in broad terms.

So … let’s be careful what we say so as to say what we mean.  Lazy language, at best, makes us look foolish, at worst you may hurt a lot of people in ways you may have never imagined.

Thinking about Leelah Alcorn

Ed Greenwood

Ed Greenwood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been thinking about Leelah Alcorn’s death and her suicide note a lot lately.  There’re numerous reasons that hers would affect me in ways more personal than most … but they all come around to, that note resonated a little, uncomfortably, close to things I’ve thought or felt at various points.  I, thank all the watching gods, have a wonderful family who is supportive and understanding of who I am and that led me to have … well, it’s why I’m able to be 33 and happy instead of the alternatives.

They’ve made me think long and hard about the way I tend to see the world and the people in it.  I don’t know that Leelah was a bookworm.  I don’t know, if she was, if she liked the sort of stories I write.  It doesn’t matter, she’s gone from the world, but there’re others still here facing a struggle similar to her own – even the happy (or maybe I should say “happier“) ones.

I think, in our society, there’s an odd balance between the status known as celebrity (no matter how minor) and privacy.  I think, too, that while we spend a lot of time trying to erode the privacy of some kinds of celebrity, we’re willing to provide virtual anonymity to others.  To most people, for example, a writer – be it a columnist, a journalist, a novelist, a poet, a playwright, screenwriter, et al we tend to let those who wield quill and parchment all the reclusiveness she might crave and be content for her to be naught but a byline and maybe a short, uninformative bio at the back cover or last page of a book and one that neither the text nor photo of ever changes in the course of a 30 year career.

But in today’s world, with social media and everything else, we find ourselves able to interact on a quasi-personal level with those authors we love.  Twitter, Facebook, Ello, and … okay, I’m not really big on the whole social media business so I’ve exhausted me list of interact-able venues.  Well, Goodreads, somewhat and, of course, our blogs.

English writer Neil Gaiman. Taken at the 2007 ...

English writer Neil Gaiman. Taken at the 2007 Scream Awards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More and more authors are gaining a level of celebrity.  We do start to learn about them as people.  They suddenly do have a face.  We know things about the lovely Ms Rowling, the quirky Mr King, and the hilarious Sir Pratchett that, maybe even 20 years ago we never would have.

There’ve ever been the ones who were very open, forward, and willing to share and interact with the world.  I present as Exhibit A, the sweetest and most generous human I’ve ever had the pleasure to speak with:  Mr Ed Greenwood.  There’re so many wonderful stories from the early days of TSR of him at gaming cons being just the most personable “star” anyone’d ever met; like a bearded and jolly George Takei or James Doohan (the latter, I suppose was fairly jolly himself, now I think on it).

I’ve guarded my own privacy … well, there’re many ways one can use the phrase “guarded jealously”, and I feel rather like I might be justified in claiming more than one of them.  In my own defense, I do not think in terms of caring who an author is as a person.  I make an assumption that the photo of Dennis L McKiernan, in the back of my copy of Dragondoom, is actually him so I know he’s a) a him (or it’s a reasonable assumption) b) he’s bipedal c) humanoid d) apparently monochrome! e) incredibly young!  (I’ve an OLD copy of the book).  All I much know about him is he’s good, and I love his work.  Then I realised, I do know more.  Because of the internet I know that Mithgar grew out of his own pen & paper RPG sessions.

We can’t, I think, avoid learning bits and things about the people whose books we enjoy.  Human curiosity and the internet work together to ensure we can learn more and we often go looking for it.

I’ve guarded my privacy because I didn’t want people to say they love or hate my work because of me, I wanted them to do so because of it.  I wanted Lauren and Sally, Allison and Jake, all the rest, to be the role-models and to be judged by my skills and talent as a writer.  I’ve said before, and I know it’s a real thing that people who know a book is by a woman, or a homosexual, or a 17′ tall rabid badger from Mississippi will buy it or reject it just because of that.  It grates against my sensibilities.  A person can have a wonderful library of diverse characters and tremendously wonderful role-models of setting and characters and every single last one of those works can be by rich, straight, white, ennobled, cisgender men.  All it takes is for those authors to be empathetic, sensitive, thoughtful, imaginative, intuitive, creative, and talented story tellers.  Exhibit B:  John Scalzi.  I can’t, to be honest, speak related directly to his novels, I’ve never read them (my wife has, but only one so she’s no help), but if his blog is any gauge …

Maya Angelou with Bloomberg and Nadler

Maya Angelou with Bloomberg and Nadler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That said … to hell with it.  My own examples:  Ed Greenwood, John Scalzi.  I’ll add the likes of Neil Gaiman, Seanan McGuire, and Patrick Rothfuss … yeah, lot of those are SF/F authors, I told you that’s most of what I read.  They all interact with the public.  And I’m no recluse living in a cave with no social media accounts or ones only known about and accessed by some intern working for peanut butter and saltines.

I don’t follow their blogs.  I don’t read them every day.  But I do read an enjoy their blogs when the whim strikes me.  I do get to know them as people.  I’ve interacted with Ed Greenwood, mostly via Candlekeep.com, but I have.  With the Takei’s … these days celebrity aren’t lofty, remote deities to be admired from afar.

I forget, too, I grew up in the 80s, and early 90s.  I own (no, not past tense, I still have it) an 80286 with a 2400 baud modem.  I’ve got floppy discs with Prodigy on it from before there was an internet for it to access.  I’ve used BBSes, FIDONET, and IRC.  I remember with ICQ was brand new, and Search.com was what Google is now.  Maybe I see the world, sometimes, through the lenses of an 80s kid instead of a 21st century one.  I’d have had virtually no way to know the sexuality or birth-assigned gender of a favourite author.  I’d only know their race if the book had a photo, and I’d have their name (and said not-guaranteed-to-be-present photo) to guess their gender … but today that’s just not true.  When books really make an impression on people it often includes the author becoming someone they might look up to.  I’m no Maya Angelou, but … then again, early in her career … was she?

I plan to begin trying to write a for really real author bio for the places I’ve got my current silly one.  I may miss one, please feel free to point this out to me, I’ll be very grateful.  I may begin to include one, though probably a bit different, in my books.  Certainly I’m going to be more open about myself from now on.

George Takei on the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Pr...

George Takei on the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Pride 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If my books had only 1/10 the sales figures I do, I might assume that too few people know I exist to actually care, but I have hit best seller charts.  I have sold as many or more copies of Love or Lust than most first printings of a new author’s first book.  I finally had to admit to myself, like it or not, a blog with some 500ish followers, a decent daily hit rate, etc. means I’m achieving some degree of notice and that translates to celebrity even if it is very minor.  More bluntly, people know who I am, know what I wrote, and might be curious about me.  Some of those people might be Leelahs, and I want them to know that it can (I won’t say does, that depends on factors both in and out of the individual’s control, but it undeniably can) get better.  On the outside chance that there’s someone struggling with sexuality or gender identity or whatever who needs someone to look to for an example of that “can get better” business … I present myself.

Hello, world.

I am Ms Jaye Em Edgelciff.  I am a transsexual lesbian living in the Georgia in the United States and from the Ozarks part of Arkansas.  I am happily married to a woman who I met in college, I have two ridiculously odd, but wonderful little kittens and a hyperactive (as in for the breed) black-mouth cur.  I, sadly, do not have any children … yet.  I’m 33, and my birthday is 8 July 1981.  I’m an Army brat who never got to see too many places but I did get to live in San Antonio and Honolulu.  I’m a geek, and always have been.  Hard as it is, looking at the world today, but even if I’d known what I was as a little girl I could not have transitioned … it just wasn’t done back then.  I didn’t know what I was, or why I felt the ways I did.  I was awkward, I was shy, I was … I won’t say unhappy, as I had wonderful friends and a good family, but I was terribly depressed and had more than a few suicidal thoughts growing up.  As a teenager I finally started to get words around how I felt … I clearly had spent many of my past lives as a woman and had made the exceedingly foolish choice to come back around as a man (or had done something awful and was being punished with a penis, in some of my more self-hating moments).  Eventually I learned what transgender and transsexuality actually were (as opposed to the rather limited and skewed understanding I had under the term “sex change operation” where one envisions a guy going to get it cut off because he wants to be made into a woman … language matters, and connotation of sentence choice makes all the difference in the world).

With the help of hormones, and all the other fun things that go along with transitioning I am now a much happier, much more confident, much more me person than I was when I was young.

I don’t really write my books for myself.  Joe doesn’t exist to represent me or what I am.  Joe exists because, in the ficton of Now & Forever, Joe exists and is a transsexual man.  Lauren and Sally don’t represent myself and my wife … the most we have in common is I’ve red hair and hazel eyes, but Lauren has those features because Lauren has those features … my own eye and hair colour are rather different shades from hers and while I’m fond of them, clearly I’m not so vain as to force them onto someone else.  My stories are just for you to enjoy.  If they have any social purpose, any moral reason then it’s is only to remind people that we are all of us people.  To quote Stranger in a Strange Land, “thou art god, thou art goddess”.  I write what I write and the characters I do because they had the story I loved enough I wanted to take the time to write it down and share it with you, and if that story happens to illustrate a point you can take away and maybe see the world differently then that’s a bonus.  I read for pleasure and entertainment, I’m not about to write something with a purpose other than that; but I will admit there is a moral message that evolved as I wrote, but it was a pretty easy one … but it comes back to the Golden Rule which Bronson Alcott proved ages ago is so simple and obvious that 5 year old children are able to reverse engineer it with a little help from the Socratic method.

I do not feel that I am really all that interesting a person.  There’s not a lot about myself to talk about.  I enjoy cooking, though not much lately due to having an exceedingly tiny kitchen that makes cooking more a chore than a pleasure.  I enjoy foods, especially sushi and pasta.  I play video games, and board games, I love nature and hate cities.  I’m quiet.  I don’t get out a lot, but I also live somewhere that there’s nowhere to go if I wanted to get out.  I’m average height, if a bit petite in build.  I’m black, Cherokee, Irish, Dutch and German that I know of.  I’m a distant cousin of George Straight and that’s about as exciting as my universe gets.

I’ve said before, it’s not because of what I am as far as sexuality and gender that are why I’m inclined to care about rights and equality.  That’s just who I am.  When I thought I was a straight white male I still felt this way.  People don’t have to be LGBTQ or black or whatever to empathise and care and understand that equality matters.  It also doesn’t require someone to be non-white, not-straight, and/or non-cis* to be discriminated against.  White people experience racism in Hawaii, the natives are a little angry about the whole annexing the place at gun point (I’m simplifying the history, but really … Hawaii didn’t want to be a state, dirty pool was used to make it #50), in some forums of the internet there’re LGBTQ who can get just as mean or meaner to straight and cis who venture in there as they might assume that the hetero-cis would be … and maybe turn away a potential ally.  Men can be feminist, and we do have unrealistic and harmful stereotypes about men just as we do for women; in short, they face their own brand of sexism and objectification … I think fewer of them seem to care, but it doesn’t change the fact it’s true.  In short, you can be the king of flippin’ England and still care about ending sexism, ending anti-lgbt* nonsense, ending racism, etc. just because you take the few seconds to care and to remember:

What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.

And … I know my audience is mostly teens and parents of them.
  • Parents, please remember that the most important thing any parent can do is to love and support who their child is.  Please do not be Mrs Alcorn saying “we loved our son” when speaking of your trans* daughter who has died because of too many of that very statement; and please extrapolate down for the less extreme (and not-trans*) analogues to that statement.
  • Kids … maybe you’re somewhere, right now, where you’re misunderstood and alone.  Maybe you’ve parents who … maybe they’re confused but do love you, or maybe you’re right and they don’t … but if that’s the case they’re no parents; do what you must to be safe, but within that context be you.  Do your best to get by, channel your sorrow and pain into determination to have the best schools all banging down your door for you to attend, or if you’re crafty/creative/musical/whatever … use your pain to fuel your exodus into somewhere accepting, tolerant, somewhere that you are at peace and happy.  For the trans* kids, yes it is easiest to transition as a child, easier as a teen, but possible as an adult and hey … depending what aspect of it you’re talking about, it’s possibly been within your lifetime that transition was even possible for someone who wasn’t an adult.  It can be okay, but you have to hang on long enough to let it do so, and you can’t just cross your fingers and wish for it to get better.  The wishes that come true best are the ones you make true.  Not every dream can come true.  I won’t paint a fairy tale where every mom & dad eventually sees how foolish they were and accepts you for who you are, it happens so don’t give up hope, but if your dream is that … steel yourself that it might not happen, but the fun of the word ‘might not happen’ is it contains the caveat of ‘could happen’.  Family has a number of meanings.  My wife has little to do with her blood family for a laundry list of reasons, not all of it, but a fair chunk.  Her family is, mostly now, mine.  You can control your destiny, somewhat, if you give yourself the chance to do it.

And … depression is real.  It’s serious.  Life can be roses, unicorns, sunshine, and bunnies cuddling and you still hate the world and want to die.  I know this, first hand I know this.  If you can work through it yourself, fine.  But I know that nothing I say will make that pain and those thoughts go away, that’ll take the right help and what that is varies from person to person.  Need someone to talk to?  Suicide hotlines exist in droves, contact me if you like, friend, pastor, cousin, dog, cat, tree, or rock.  Maybe you need someone to care about … of all things, one of the biggest reasons I’m still alive is that I’ve always had cats and I’ve always loved them too much to leave them.  Maybe you straight up need meds; fun part is, a competent doctor might recognise (for the trans* I mean, obviously this won’t help for anyone else) your issue and help you get your parents to help you transition … you really are a boy/girl trapped in a girl/boy body and your brain craves the correct hormones and your body isn’t making enough.  Everyone else AND some of the trans* folks … sometimes you need anti-depressants, St John’s Wort, Prozac, or whatever.  Do what you must and can to make that better, it’ll make the rest of life a lot easier.

There.  Now you know me, sort of.  If this helps one person, it’s worth it for the loss of privacy and for the loss of that barrier between people judging my work through the lends of who and what I am instead of by simply looking at the page.  Because life is far more precious than any of that nonsense.

I’m going to sticky this until I can get ’round to working out what to say in my bio.  So please don’t forget to scroll down to see if there’re any new posts made after this.

Happy New Year

Buddha in Sarnath Museum (Dhammajak Mutra) Loc...

Buddha in Sarnath Museum (Dhammajak Mutra) Location:Sarnath Museum, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, unless I’m doing bad math, I’m pretty sure it is now 2015 across the entire surface of the Earth.

I don’t know about where you’re from, but here there’s a tradition to make New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t really know why, because it’s also pretty traditional to never actually meet any of these lofty goals.

Still I’m going to make a realistic approach to it:

1) I will get book 3 finished, get started on its editing, and hopefully make a go at book 4 before 2016
2) I will spend more time at the lake staring out over the water thinking about absolutely nothing whatsoever.
3) I will make headway on this 50lbs I really should lose if I want to be able to wear more of the styles of clothes I actually like.

There. That about does it.

While we’re at it, though, I think we ought to all look back at 2014 and the tragedies it held and make a resolution, as a species, to prevent such things from ever happening again.

Things like Leelah Alcorn’s suicide, the mess in Uganda, anything related to LGBT & Russia, various wars and invasions that took place (didn’t Russia invade Poland for some reason?  There’s the whole thing with ISIL, etc.), I could keep going but how about we just sum it up that maybe now that it’s the year we’re supposed to have Mr Fusion, flying DeLoreans, and self fitting clothing … maybe now would be a good time to get around to listening to the likes of Jesus, Buddha, and others who all said “Be excellent to each other”.

I’m stunned …

I imagine many of my readers are well aware of the critical lack of good sense and logic presented yesterday in the 6th circuit court decision (readers outside the US may be less aware, but you’ll get it soon).

I wanted to quote the meat of what one of the judges said on the matter which showed an acute misunderstanding of the purpose of the courts in this country.  It’s covered by the dissenting judge’s statement, but I wanted it for the contrast.  I can’t find it now, and while I can find the PDF of the decision, it’s very long and I got a headache trying to find what I wanted.

In any case the bans were upheld because the judge said that it is a matter of social change that the people seeking that change should find through conversation in the political sphere and therefore is none of the court’s business.

Because, of course, it’s none of the court’s business to uphold the constitution and overturn unjust or unconstitutional law!?  The main reason I wanted to quote the statement was because it was such complete bullshit that it was staggering.  I almost felt that the only way the two judges that upheld the ban could possibly have said anything so inherently stupid was just to force the issue to be handled by the US Supreme Court.

The dissenting opinion really covers the matter very well, so I present it here:

Thursday’s decision by the Sixth Circuit upholding four states’ ban on same-sex marriage humored many of conservatives’ favorite arguments, but the 2-1 decision included a fiery dissent by Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, a Clinton appointee. While Daughtrey’s opinion challenged many of the majority’s arguments, she made an overall point that encapsulates what’s lacking — and harmful — about the most modern arguments against marriage equality.

“In the main, the majority treats both the issues and the litigants here as mere abstractions,” she wrote. “Instead of recognizing the plaintiffs as persons, suffering actual harm as a result of being denied the right to marry where they reside or the right to have their valid marriages recognized there, my colleagues view the plaintiffs as social activists who have somehow stumbled into federal court, inadvisably, when they should be out campaigning to win ‘the hearts and minds’ of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee voters to their cause.”

That’s the biggest divide between the two sides on same-sex marriage: is it an issue, or is it about people?

She specifically talks in detail about the Michigan plaintiffs, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, a lesbian couple who have been together for eight years and are raising three children, two of whom are now categorized as having “special needs.” Each of the children is only legally adopted by either DeBoer and Rowse, because Michigan prevents them from co-adopting as a same-sex couple. Daughtrey said she’d have no problem upholding the district court ruling in their favor, noting that “the State of Michigan allows heterosexual couples to marry even if the couple does not wish to have children, even if the couple does not have sufficient resources or education to care for children, even if the parents are pedophiles or child abusers, and even if the parents are drug addicts.”

Confirmation and related thoughts

English: Chris Hemsworth at a press conference...

English: Chris Hemsworth at a press conference for Thor in London in April 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, by now, I’m sure many of you have read this interview I gave.  In it I mention my wife.

It was no great secret, really, I just wasn’t going to shout it from the rooftops because it wasn’t an important detail.  It wasn’t until the context of the interview answer that there was some reason to say it, because I’ll be damned if I’m going to be as awkward as “significant other” or “spouse” or something else like that just to avoid saying if I’m a lesbian or not.

I am.  I’m not in the closet about it at all.  My wife and I happily hold hands in public, we kiss at the park, all the things any other couple does.

As I’ve said before I saw no point in announcing details, because it seemed to me it would detract from people appreciating my work on its own merits.  At this point, if it were to become wider knowledge that I’m gay, it would leave me wondering:  did someone buy the books because I’m a lesbian or because they wanted to read the books?

Still, in this day it is generally impossible to keep such things secret forever, and I’m not going to dance around a point if the conversation winds up moving in that direction.

I can’t say it’s very traumatic for me.  Much as the case with my characters, it was not anything earth shattering when I came out – my family accepted and supported it without reservation or any fuss.  My friends seemed rather unfazed by the fact.  Which, frankly, is as it should be.  I can’t even say I’ve been harassed by strangers about it; though in perfect honesty I’m left wondering a lot if the people likely to just didn’t work it out in time to say something; it’s really amazing when the couple in question is female how few people register ‘couple’ instead of ‘friends/sisters’.  Strangely enough, when the couple is male the opposite is true:  people think ‘couple’ before it occurs to them it could be friends or brothers.  It’s why I agree so much with the idea that there are times and ways it can be rough for men, and while I’m not very keen on “the mens’ rights movement” I am in favour of the sorts of ideas relating to the fact that there are male stereotypes and gender expectations that are just as hurtful (I’m willing to concede more so, if someone can present data, but we’ll go with equal measure for now, certainly I’m not going to agree to anything less without very clear metrics) to little boys and grown men alike as the ones so often decried as damaging our little girls and our grown women.

A lesbian couple married in San Francisco in 2004

A lesbian couple married in San Francisco in 2004 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, I’m married to my wife.  No, it’s not legally binding where we live:  more’s the pity.

Still, I didn’t need to be lesbian to write Now & Forever.  Love, I feel, is love.  I could have written a classic boy-meets-girl, a heterosexual romance, just as easily by finding a man to put in Lauren or Salencia’s place.  Laurne or Sally could be transgender, either as in one of them truly feels she is hi, instead, or that one of them was once actually Lawrence or Salencio and have long since transitioned to the girls we know; they aren’t, but there’s no reason they couldn’t have been.

I say this because it is important to me that people realise that it’s stupid to support an author for who they are or are not, rather than for what they’ve done.  I can understand one who incensed you sufficiently not to wish to put money in her pocket; but buy the work used if you’re curious, otherwise give it a miss certainly.  The fact of the matter is that I don’t wish for anyone to feel that my gender or sexuality had anything whatsoever to do with any feelings of validity or reality in the characters.  I’ve written convincing males before, just not in anything I’ve bothered with publishing, just short little things I wrote for my own pleasure and amusement, some of them not even enough to call a vignette and the validity of these males is confirmed by males I know, QED.

So, yes, here, publicly, as this post will be right where Google and Bing can find it next time they crawl my page, I’m out in a big way.  Wow, Jaye Em Edgecliff is a [insert lesbian epitaph of your choice]!  Amazing.  And, I suppose, it is worth mentioning, yes I am actually gay – not bi, or pan, or any of that sort of thing, I’ve never seen the appeal in masculine bodies except for a few little tugs from an ingrained reproductive instinct that seems to feel Chris Hemsworth would be an awesome choice to have kids with.

I am not, however, going to start updating my biographical information anywhere to discuss that I’m female, nor that I like other females, that I’m married or to whom or what.  It will be a fact, those who care and are diligent in their research can find out, otherwise it will be left as a passing detail, a bit of data that has no more bearing on me professionally than the fact that my birthday is in July.

I encourage people who look to authors they follow and read:  be an ally.  I’m not talking Social Justice Warrior, most of them annoy … everyone as far as I can tell, certainly I’m inclined to not take them seriously … but just if you’re straight that doesn’t mean you can’t stand up for the civil rights of homosexuals even if you don’t know any (besides, odds are that you do and just don’t know it) or of transgender people, intersexed, bisexuals, etc.  I certainly don’t post the things I do on my Facebook page to be self serving, I do it to support and acknowledge the humanity of those around me whatever and whomever they are – unless you’re being cruel to animals or anyone else who is helpless, then I don’t tend to consider you human anymore and reckon you have every right to rot in as many hells as there might turn out to be.  Actually, blanket statement:  don’t be a dick.  There.

I’ve rambled more than usual.  It probably means I’ve not had hardly enough to eat today and my brain is shutting down.  But I just wanted to affirm:  yes the interview was legit, yes, I’m married to a woman, yes I’m gay; now let’s talk about something important.

Some people would turn off comments at for a post like this.  I won’t.  At least not unless people decide to get really stupid or ugly in them.  Odds are no one will partake of them anyway.  But they’re there if this has left anyone with an itch to speak her mind.

Love to all.

Reality versus intent OR Why #GamerGate IS evil

I’ve probably never mentioned it before, but I am a gamer.  I love games.  Board games of various shapes and sizes, card games, pen & paper RPG, computer games, video games (old school for Arcade/Console), all of that.

Now, for those in the know, there’s this thing going on that has dubbed itself #GamerGate thanks to a twit by the ever lovable (said with dripping sarcasm, though I do adore him as Jayne, I just hate that he didn’t have to act for the part) Adam Baldwin dubbing it so.

And right about then was when things really went to Hell in a handbasket, frankly.

Long story short there’s a not so great game out there about depression.  It’s around for a couple years, and due to not being all that exceptional it was a little surprising when it suddenly gets a lot of attention.  Whatever, it happens.  Well, an ex-boyfriend (“ex” being an old Latin prefix that means “do not to trust this person as an accurate primary source of information”) said it came from her shagging a game reviewer.  So, ostensibly, the whole thing is about journalistic integrity and ethics in journalism.

Except it really isn’t.  Not in practice.

Now, in it’s intent, I have no problem with #GamerGate.  Really, on paper, it’s fine.  I agree with it, even.  And not just gaming journalism, just journalism in general.  I mean, has anyone seen the statistic on the number of inaccuracies in Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, etc?  Appalling!

In practice and reality I loathe, oppose, and deride #GamerGate.

But, Jaye, WHY!?

Because of the reality.  The reality is that before it had a name it was, as far as the most active adherents, people personally attacking the person who wrote the game, publicising her private information (aka “doxxing” though I’ll be buggered to know why), and threatening violence.  Yeah, real mature, folks.

Then it gets a name, and it’s being used to lob horrible things at women involved in gaming in any fashion.  Even the sweet, quirky, Ms Felicia Day was not immune.

Here’s the thing, it’s kind of like feminism except this one has actually managed to go too far; most feminists aren’t really like the Womynists on PCU (though some are), and feminism is able to keep the strongest spotlights on the sane & rational people like Ms Emma Watson.  #GamerGate, on the other hand … no, you have the people who make Adam Baldwin and his character Jayne look sweet, thoughtful, empathic, and cuddly.

If you support the ethics in journalism part but not the misogyny, threats, etc.  You need to dissociate from #GamerGate.  The trolls have taken over and are entrenched.  Anything you say or do now in support of it is seen by those around you as being in support of the hate and psychotic behaviour.  It also doesn’t help that a lot of people trying to defend it do so in a very misogynist, racist, and/or hateful/trollish fashion.

My dear readers, I will not even repeat a sampling of what is being said by the GamerGaters, I won’t.  I’ve had precious little to eat this morning, and would like not to vomit it back up; also I am, ostensibly, a lady and … just … sick.  It’s sick.  Really, I give even a strong constitution 50/50 odds of becoming ill in the first 3minutes of exploring “GamerGate” on either Google or Twitter.

It’s the thing with causes.  An ideology can be usurped by the insane.  If the insane get enough attention, then your ideology is tainted by this.  This doesn’t mean abandon the cause, nor to abandon the ideology, it does mean you should distance yourself.  Some fights aren’t worth fighting, some fights are lost before they’re begun.  The first thing I’ll say is, with any cause and any ideology you’ll have a psychotic fringe element, fight to keep them off the Television (figuratively and literally – it’s like southerners and that woman in the mumu and sponge rollers Jeff Foxworthy mentions in his act); if you lose that fight … Well, the thing is, sometimes you need to fight to establish a new name after you assess where things went wrong to try to avoid the same in the future.  Your fight, too, is now harder, because now you do have to be careful how you defend yourself.

Take this image as a for example:

B0uRBtDCUAAfSbJAt first doesn’t seem too bad.  But some things that I know would be attacked:  First and most important is the extraordinary number of women, non-whites, and LGBT who are vehemently opposed to GamerGate and have VERY publicly said so (this woman, being among that list).  Secondly would be the fact that someone is going to point out that they chose six people who, at least by the photos selected, could pass for white, not to mention only two people aren’t.  Finally, “Disabled” is not a sexuality, a gender identity, nor a race.

It’s an almost decent effort, but it’d be picked apart (and has been, though I’m in no mood to look for the links).

While it may be true that you can win back a cause and a name through diligent fighting off of the trolls, and the rational clawing their way into the spotlight and refusing to relinquish it to the nutjobs, you’re not going to do that by being a troll yourself only with better spelling and grammar.  You’re also not going to do that when, while already being taken anything but seriously, you defend yourself with information that it would take less than a nanosecond to see was incorrect just by the person looking up or down from your post (given that this is largely happening on Twitter) and seeing all the NOT cisgender white men attacking it.  Also you need to not just say “it’s not about misogyny”, if that’s the case then you need to stop reacting to the ant-#GamerGaters exclusively, you need to also react to the misogynists and racists, you need to acknowledge that we have a point.  We’re willing to concede to you that ethical journalism is important; we might point out that it’s actually a very small statistical sampling of online game reviewers who seem guilty of any unethical behaviour, though it’s pretty true elsewhere, but we concede the ideology without reservation — how about, now, you acknowledge that manly men can say as they like about #GamerGate but not so manly men or any woman can’t say a damned thing without being attacked.  Hell, some didn’t even know #GamerGate existed before she was being attacked by #GamerGaters.

In the 60s’ civil rights movement there were many blacks who criticised the Black Panthers and Malcom X (In Malcom’s defense, he did come around to a more Dr King look at things, I refer to when he first came on the scene).  In the feminist movement there are many ladies who will tell off a rad-fem woman for her extremism.  Even the male rights activists have a point! except that they haven’t managed to chisel out from under the fact that the movement seems (and please, anyone better acquainted with the history correct me if I’m wrong) to have been founded by the grunting apeman sort of guys which doesn’t much help the point for the ones who do have something worthwhile to say.

In its current form #GamerGate is bad.  It’s a cesspool of hatred, misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-feminism, and a lot of other not-so-kosher things.  Is there Truth and sense in there?  Yes.  Is it the majority being drown out by a vocal minority or is it a trollish majority being defended by a rational minority?  Far as I can tell, the latter and all too often “rational” is being a little generous.

I’ve got rambly, I’m sorry.  Thing is, whatever you fight for, you cannot defend it blindly.  Blind patriotism, blind environmentalism, blind feminism, blind anything, is blind.  It’s handicapped, and it’s (pardon the pun) shortsighted.  If you wish for the reality of a thing and its intent to remain aligned you have to fight your extremist supporters, those who hurt you with their support.  I tend to applaud people, like the CEO of Starbucks, who tell people they disagree with to take their money elsewhere – they’re business people, but they feel that principals are more important than money, bravo!  Greenpeace, PETA, etc. they have good points, they do good work, that doesn’t mean they’re always right and every action done by them or in their name or in the name of a cause they support is right and good and noble.

#GamerGate is, in the end, just one more example of it not mattering one whit what you mean, if what people see and perceive is something else.  Reality is, in large part, perception.  Dr King is criticised for elevating Rosa Parks over an unwed, pregnant teen girl who’d done the same thing around the same time … because image matters, that unwed girl with a pregnant belly would have hurt his point because people would have got hung up on how horrible she was and missed the message.  Just as that graphic above doesn’t help, because it has too many flaws that people will be paying more attention to than the point it tries to make.  Our actions, our words, they define us.  We must balance Good Cause with Wise Action; we have to balance Good Idea with Reasoned Statements.

Remember, those journalists, those coders, they’re human beings.  First that means they have feelings.  This doesn’t mean don’t criticise them, but it does mean that you shouldn’t treat them as some practice dummy in a medieval training ground, there for you to hack and slash at with impunity.  We’re all people.  We all have lives, we all make mistakes, we all have feelings.  I’m sure the people doxxing Felicia Day and calling her such horrible things, wouldn’t be too happy to have the same medicine dosed on them; “Do unto others …” hast many a wise man said, after all.

About me Q & A #1

I have no idea how often or how regular I’m going to do this, but I’m bored to the point of whimsical right now and felt like doing this to amuse myself.

I’m going to interview myself about whatever happens to come to mind.

Future versions of this might feature favourite questions from comments, emails, Facebook, or Twitter.

Are you a vegetarian/vegan?

No.  Though I was until I got married to someone who I can’t seem to convince that humans aren’t carnivores – I didn’t grow up not eating meat so it was no hardship to give in to the fact that I was not going to win the argument against cooking steaks, chicken, pork, etc.

So you’re married?

Yes

To a man or woman?

Yes

Tea or Coffee?

Tea by preference, though if I’ve an empty stomach I have to keep it to specific herbals or just go with coffee.  Tea on an empty tummy makes me extremely sick for no reason I can understand.

You use a peculiar grammar and spelling, where are you from?

Books.  Seriously, I learned most of what I know of English from reading so much; I read a great many English authours and American authours from the days when the written languages between English and American weren’t as different, but I do read some newer American authours which causes some of the peculiarities.  Where I was formally educated really is irrelevant since I don’t actually remember a damned thing from my English lessons, and my family speaks with a rather eclectic mix of dialects and accents.

Your books seem a little mixed on the subject of feminism, but you admit that you’re a woman.  Are you a feminist or anti-feminist?

Neither.  My feelings on the matter of this stuff I think can be best stated by Ms Emma Watson in her amazing speech to the U.N.  I believe in equality.  A woman who wants to be June Cleaver and a woman who wants to be just this side of Teddy Roosevelt after male-to-female transition are both advancing the cause of feminism since the whole point comes down to having the freedom to choose, and I think that (as Ms Watson said) we too often forget the poor gents in the subject.  They have their own degrading stereotypes as well – what business is it of mine if Dennis Rodman wants to wear a dress?  I’m not going to tell him he’s any less a man for it.

Your “biography” page says you don’t speak Swahili.  Do you speak any other languages besides English?  Your books have French and Italian in them …

And I’m quite good at faking those languages with a little help from a dictionary and the Latin I studied in school.  I, sadly, no longer have any functional proficiency in Latin even though I adore the language (far too little opportunity to use and expand, the dangers of studying a dead language), but I remember enough of the core of the language to understand how to use what I look up when translating out of English and into the French and Italian used in my stories.  English is my only fluent language, though I’m conversant in American so long as the topic doesn’t stray too far.

You mention that your writing only pays your power bill, what do you do for a living?

Telephony switch engineering.  I work for an internet/cable/phone company fixing switch issues with customers’ phone features and phone services.  Before that, with the same company, I worked various permutations of technical support for either the customers themselves or the in-field technicians.  Mostly it’s a very boring job, and I’m not sure with what it pays “a living” is a strictly accurate term, but it pays the rent.

Mac or PC?

Amiga.  Sadly they’re getting more than a little dated, so I use Macs.  If I must use a PC I put Debian Linux (Testing) on it … or, by ultimate preference, DOS.  I’ve been using computers for a long time.  I’ve used a plethora of hardware, OS, software.  I’ve things I like and hate about most things, Windows and most Microsoft products are the sole exception:  I find nothing positive to say about their products that couldn’t be said about anything else like them and couldn’t have been said about those other things first … but could go on at length about all the things I hate.  The single positive thing is that MS Word does make putting different page numbering in one part of a document versus another easier than any other current word processor.

iOS or Android?

Neither, or iOS.  For a tablet I prefer iOS.  I have rather mixed feelings about smartphones.  Android, by-and-large doesn’t impress me, though I’ve nothing against it in theory, just in specific details of how it’s implemented.  Most reasoned arguments against Android generally echo my own feelings about it.

And I think that concludes for now.  I’ve run out of ideas, and probably should stop goofing off now anyway.

cheers! :)

[Reblog] Reasonably Unscrewed-Up Character ≠ Mary Sue

Jaye:

Once again, Scalzi says something beautifully that’s been bugging me.

No one’s said this about any of my characters, no, but that’s because of a lack of SF. Fantasy/SciFi is outrageous with this stuff. It’s almost perverse … correction, it IS perverse.

Seriously, I’m waiting for the day Bilbo Baggins is routinely accused of being a Mary Sue.

Originally posted on Whatever:

When Mary and I were doing the Q & A portion of our Borderlands Books appearance, I went off the ranch a bit and kvetched about one of my pet peeves concerning science fiction reviewers, which is the assumption that any main character who is not screwed-up is somehow automatically a Mary Sue wish fulfillment character for the writer… or perhaps more accurately that my main characters are Mary Sues for me. Rather than recreate the kvetch, let me transcribe it here, edited slightly so you don’t get every stutter and “uh”:

Forgive me father, for I have sinned, I have been reading my reviews. And there’s one thing that just always pisses me off, and that it is that when they mention characters, they say, well his main character is fine and blah blah blah but it’s really just a Mary Sue character. And it just drives…

View original 817 more words

Thoughts on piracy

The Pirate Bay logo

The Pirate Bay logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At what point is it okay to share the works of someone who is trying, or hoping to make a living at an artistic endeavour?  Is it once they’ve achieved a living by it?  When they’re rich by it?

With the internet, it’s certainly hard to fight it.  Fight too hard and, like Metallica, you just make it worse.  Don’t fight it hard enough and you’ll never get it to stop … assuming it’s even possible.  So there’s a certain futility to it all.

I know people who’ll pirate TV shows, movies, music, etc.  In some cases that’s the end of it; they have it and they’re not going to pay for it.  Some decide it was worthwhile and so buy the DVD, BluRay, CD, iTunes, whatever.  Some of the former would have bought it if a torrent didn’t exist, some refuse to ever pay for media.

Those who use piracy as a sort of library, I honestly have no issue with.  Or maybe you’re using it because you go to listen to your favourite tape, LP, or CD and discover it’s broken or ruined and it’ll be a few hundred dollars to replace because it’s out of print or something.  Seen more than a few people hunting down torrents of video games for that reason.

I don’t think file-sharing in itself is inherently bad.  As with most things, it’s intent.

Some people just share things because they can.  They don’t realise, or don’t care, that there are real people hurt by this.  Others do it as a sort of finger to capitalism and similar.  There are those who refuse to believe that data can, in some kind of sense, belong to someone.

I’ve recently found one of my books on several torrent sites.  And to get it down is very likely to require the help of a lawyer due to the rather convoluted policies on the part of both the DMCA and those sites’ interpretation of it.

On one hand, I almost feel happy:  someone liked my book well enough to share it?  And people want it badly enough to be downloading it this way?

On the other … I looked at the tracker statistics:  There’re twice as many people downloading that book as I type this than paid for it in the past two months.

I’m not so unrealistic as to believe that all of those are people who would have ever found my book to buy in the first place; there’re people whose personal Amazon is TorrentReactor.  I am not so unrealistic to believe that there are not some who see The Pirate Bay as a sort of lending library without due dates, or as a sort of free Netflix.

Still, it hurts.  It hurts personally that there are people out there who would enjoy someone’s hard work, but be unwilling to get it legally; unwilling to support that artist so that they might provide more work to enjoy.  I’ve seen musicians argue that, these days, don’t sell the music sell the merchandise – if they buy the shirt they get the MP3, according to an MC Lars song.  That’s fine and well for musicians.  What of authors?  What merchandise do we have?  That may work for some genres, but not all.  Too, I do have a bit of that; if you buy the print book from Amazon the e-book is free.

Thing is, with many arts, it’s a labour of love in the first place.  Many a musician, many a filmmaker, many a writer has to have a day job to pay the bills.  New York Times Bestselling authors who have to work to put food in the cupboards and pay the rent. Certainly those of us without that prestige … Now & Forever has two books out and both have hit the best seller charts in more than one country, not bad.  Amazon best sellers, at that!  Not sitewide, though.  Genre.  Yes, one of them did hit a point above one of the new big titles in YA romance.  Tally that against the statistics of how many people don’t read.  Best seller, in all but the most remarkable of cases; award winning, inall but the most remarkable of cases … these things do not mean well off, they don’t mean going through the dollars with a plow … they mean we make anything at all.  My writing pays my electric bill, sometimes.

The people who created the torrent of my book will probably never read this.  Even if they do, they’re as likely to troll in the comments as to take it down – the most likely is they’ll read it, shrug, and move on with no reaction at all.  I’ve no idea what I will or can do about the torrents; they exist, hundreds of people have downloaded them and the book (by-the-by, they used a terrible program to create the Kindle version put in there so it’s ugly … the ePub is one they got from one retailer or another) … I could get rid of the torrents today, and tomorrow, next week, next month … they’d be back.  With the sales lost, because some sales ARE lost, just no, not as many as the RIAA and MPAA try to claim, there’s no hope of ever affording the lawyer’s fees, to make it stop.  Maybe I’ll join the RWA, I think they offer legal services to members.

No I will not sue the people who want my book.  I’m not Metallica, I know a good portion of the downloaders are just kids, or the curious.  The torrent creators, they might get sued, but I know perfectly well how easy it can be for one to do these things without leaving any breadcrumbs … a little clever use of TOR or I2P and no one can find you unless you do something daft.  What?  Women can understand hacking and the internet, too.  Even those of us who prefer OSX and do our writing with ink and parchment; some of us just take an academic approach to it rather than a practical one.

I won’t ask you not to download the torrents; I will, however, beg you:  if you enjoy the book, consider buying a copy.  I have no magical power to know how many people possess a copy of my book, no magical power to know if and how much you enjoy it.  Reading a book does not support the author.  Tell your friends it exists, encourage them to read it?  That can, yes, though it helps if you do so in a way that at least some of them buy it; it certainly helps to nominate it for awards and to vote for it when it’s been nominated.  Leaving reviews, leaving ratings.  These things help.  That’s cheerleading, buying the product?  That supports the author herself; it’s money in her pocket.  If she’s with a big publisher, yes, it means you probably bought her the postage stamp she just put on her reply to a fan’s letter – sad, but true, though that’s no reason not to buy her book … if it doesn’t sell, and the publisher isn’t counting torrent tracker stats as sales by any measure, then they won’t renew her for another book.  If she’s self-publisher, you’ve probably bought her a cup of tea, a little nicer … but without a big marketing team, Ingram distribution, people whose job it is to ensure that the book is on Barnes & Nobles’ physical store shelves, etc … she gets precious few cups of tea as it is, don’t deny her another … she loves tea, it makes her happy, and a happy writer writes more books.

It’s all down to intent – don’t hurt the artists you love.  Like Boris Vallejo?  Buy a book of his art that has some of your favourites from that JPEG collection you downloaded.  Like Imagine Me & You?  It’s often only us$5 at Big Lots for the DVD (remember, used sales aren’t sales, you supported the store, not the artist(s)).  Love Arden Kaywin’s latest album?  Why not, at least, get your favourite tracks on iTunes?  Want to read Love or Lust all the way through, rather than just the sample, before you buy?  Fair enough, I completely understand that – too many books out there, big/small/self published where the editing and story telling are only good up to the end of the sample, everything from the next page on is a rough draft, and a bad one, at that; and of course you won’t take my word for it that I take more pride in myself and my work than to do that to people.  When you’re done, consider grabbing a copy from somewhere.  If you like having the ePub and the Kindle version, I recommend getting it from DriveThru Fiction or All Romance E-Books; I had no control over the Kindle file created by Smashwords and therefore cannot recommend it in good conscience, but all three will give you both formats in a single purchase and my lack of DRM means you can convert any retail source’s file to whatever format you wish, just don’t blame me if it doesn’t come out well.