The importance of proofreading

Nobody’s perfect.

That we all make mistakes is no excuse for not trying to prevent them, or fixing them afterward. It’s certainly not a reason to go on the offensive and try to deny there was ever a mistake in the first place.

Own up, early and completely: most sane people will probably forgive you, because nobody’s perfect.

Hell, I regularly find errors in this blog, two or three years after publishing a post. And let’s not forget my debut novel, which I am now revising after getting the rights back last month. This thing was published four years ago and sold a couple thousand copies, and the gaffes I’m only spotting now have been seen by all those people.

That said, when you are offering any kind of public face, proofreading is a vital step that many people and businesses seem to miss.

They may not know any better. They may be cynically counting on a population’s advancing illiteracy and lackluster reasoning skills to conceal the problem. They may even excuse the error, with the idea that it makes them seem more approachable, down-to-earth, one of the masses…

Gene Wilder Blazing Saddles Quotes

But there are enough sharp eyeballs out there, that businesses need to be vigilant about their public facade. The best they face is a private personal correction…the worst is public mockery.

Take this restaurant sign.

ProofreadingThe business owners wrote up the ad copy, and none of them spotted a problem. They paid to have it made by a print shop, either local or online. Nobody there saw a problem, either.

Do you see the problem?

The food might be excellent. I’m going to try it out, to see. This is just a common typo, after all.

But a business or businessperson who misses or deliberately fudges some non-vital stages in their operations, may be missing more critical issues, too.

Today, it’s a turkey panini. Tomorrow, it may be nuclear launch codes or climate change responses.

A new needle

After looking at my old 1st attempt at a fossil mammoth-ivory needle, I decided to re-create the second needle I made back in the mid-80s. Ergo, the new needle is here:bone turquoise needle1 blog

This is a fossil mammoth ivory needle 62 x 4 x 3mm, hole 4 x 1.5mm.  Inlaid plug of stabilized turquoise. Anchored with DevCon high-strength epoxy tinted by NuPastel chalk. Polished with 300-grit garnet paper, 600-grit wet/dry sandpaper, and white oxide.

Working time approximately 4.5 hours.

I’m really happy about this piece. It’s better than the one I sold.

But if I’m getting back into nalbinding, I’m going to need a larger needle…

Added 8-26-2016: I redrilled the old needle and chopped it down to around 55mm. A bit of repolishing, and it’s a great companion to the turquoise inlaid needle.

Ivory needles

I’m holding off making or buying the larger bone needles I want, because that would mean new distractions in nalbinding (Honey, I made you VIKING SOCKS) and expensive trips to every yarn store I know. And remembering how much I stupidly love carding fine wool and plant fiber.

I need to win a lottery just to handle my creative obsessions.

Valier, digital pastel, 8-26-2016

So, since I didn’t get Singer In Rhunshan into PitchWars (and knew it would be a longshot), I’m back to the revisions on Moro’s Price.

For those of you who didn’t know, the latter is a big space opera-ish M/M erotic romance set against a futuristic but by no means scientific background. When wrote it in 2011, I deliberately placed it into the far future of the Lonhra Sequence. Bits of ‘Firefly’, ‘Dune’, ‘Bablyon ‘5, and the Vorkosigan saga inspired it; since then, I’ve been watching ‘Killjoys’, ‘The Expanse’, and ‘Dark Matter’ intently for more inspiration.

I get to do crazy wonderful things to this book, now that I have it back from the original publisher. Fun things. Like substantially change the opening chapters, condense some of the dragging middle, and weave it better into Moro’s Shield, the sequel, and The Leopard of Saba, a spinoff novella set before and during Price.

It helps to know what people look like, while I write them. This round of revisions, I changed Valier Antonin, with slightly stronger facial features and curlier hair. Makes sense: his mother has major curls, and she’s the stronger genetic donor in the mix of people who made Val.

This isn’t the teenage Val I had been sketching, but the man in his mid twenties, when Moro meets him.

Val 2016 for blog

The oldest known bone needle

I thought I’d step back from dire politics, horrendous wars, and unimaginable natural disasters for a look at an amazing artifact just announced to the world.

This bone needle.

inside_needle_1

Of probable Denisovan origin, it dates to around 50,000 years old, and was found at a very information-rich cave site in Siberia.

What’s so cool about this piece?

It’s a sign and symbol of human* ingenuity.

It’s a tool of creation.

A needle is a long, tapered sliver of something relatively hard, with a point at one end and a hole or a single or double split prong at the other. The point goes through leather, basketry coils, or woven or knitted cloth…or even flesh, if you’re stitching a wound. The hole carries a doubled thread or cord; the split prongs do the same thing for a single cord, helped along by tension and/or some thin cord wrapping.

Needles help human beings make things and alter their environment. These are sophisticated tools requiring good spacial skills and predictive reasoning to even imagine.

Some of the easiest (and probably earliest) needles were porcupine quills, which have a wicked natural point on them and can carry a thread of plant fiber or animal sinew. This Etsy shop has pre-drilled quills, in case anyone wants to sew old-school.

We still have the basic form today, in steel or bronze two-prong needles for leather lacing. Here’s an example from Tandy Leather, Inc.2-prong-lacing-needle-1190-00-250_250The leather gets pushed between the two prongs, and possibly secured with some thin thread in those two holes you see inside the top prong.

Split-backed or two-prong needles in bone, ivory, stone, or hardened wood are very prone to break or give way, usually just when you are dragging the needle through a tough piece of leather that you forgot to pre-punch with a slightly larger hole. Or you made the hole too small. Or any number of reasons that don’t salve your frustration factor.

The smart thing (other than being very finicky about pre-punched holes!) is to forget about the prongs, and put a hole in the back end of the needle. You still have to be careful about breaking that fragile end, but it makes sewing so much easier.

I made a fossilized mammoth-ivory needle in a paleontology class years ago. It took a couple of hours, even with steel tools and modern sandpaper.

This is my first 2.5″ long needle. I’m amazed I still have it after all these years.ivory needle

It earned about a B- if I recall. The hole is drilled off-center, with a risk of snapping on that side. The back grooves meant to carry the thread below the level of the needle (less snagging!) are also off-center. I made another, slightly larger one in that class, and it turned out so well the teacher encouraged me to ornament it below the hole with an inlaid turquoise disk. That needle sold for $30 to an SCA historical re-enactor a few years later. (I’m looking at this one, plotting to chop it down and re-drill the back. Hey, another metaphor for trunked works and revision!)

For a paleolithic artisan, a holed needle would have been an even bigger investment in time and material…and a valuable trade good, once finished.

The really cool thing about this Siberian needle?

*It wasn’t technically made by humans, but by our long-extinct older cousins. Denisovans are a recently-discovered hominid species or subspecies who existed well before modern-type Homo Sapiens, and appeared to range around what is now northeast Asia and Siberia. At least 125,000 years back, maybe more. They were an arty bunch, too, showing evidence of some startlingly modern-looking and well-designed jewelry.

So bully for proto-humanity, making needles in southern Siberia that long ago!

Orange Carnelian Necklace

Because sometimes, simple is good.orange carnelian necklace blog

Materials: Champagne SoftFlex heavy duty beading wire, sterling silver lobster clasp, heavy jump ring, crimp tubes, crimp covers, and wire guards from Plazko.com. Orange carnelian nugget beads from the Tucson Rock & Gem Show 2016.

Length: 18″

I do have an ulterior motive for making this piece, which you’ll see in a later blog post (yes, it is part of an eventual outfit). But this necklace is casual enough for everyday wear with jeans and paint-covered T-shirt.

Etsy Showcase: some twisted wires

 

This will be an elitist rant about metal wire.

First, soothe your eyes by looking at this piece:

wirework bracelet(Lisa Barth: ‘The Perfect Marriage’ bracelet, photo courtesy of Lisa Barth and Bead & Button Magazine. Link: http://www.firemountaingems.com/resources/gallery-of-designs/f761)

Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about wirework jewelry. Sometimes known as wire-wrapping, wire-weaving, or tension wire weaving, this (mostly) cold-forming group of metal techniques is centered around the manipulation of metal wires without the use of hot-forging, soldering, or welding.

I say mostly cold-forming, because great jewelry artists know that techniques are merely tools. They can create lovely pieces through pure cold-forming…but judicious use of forging, annealing, and solder can take work into legendary levels.

Barth’s award-winning bracelet above combines gorgeous wire work with soldering fabrication (the fancy gallery-wire bezel around the central stone), and what appears to be precious-metal-clay or embossed silver plaques (the back plates behind stones and the clasp). Some of the other artists I’m going to link to use metal clay, fabrication, or hot-forging work to add components and shape to their wire creations.

Basic wirework is easy to learn and easier to do badly. Here’s where the ‘elitist’ part of the rant comes in.

I’d estimate that about 60% of the wire wrapped jewelry, masks, and other accessories I’ve seen in online venues (Etsy, DeviantArt, Facebook, Pinterest, Artfire, Amazon Handmade, etc.) are made badly, cheaply, with little skill, design, or understanding of the materials involved.

I’m not going to call out specific examples of these folks, many of whom are selling their work for very low prices to other people who don’t know better.

It would not be kind, and I don’t want to give them even negative advertising.

In many cases, the ‘artisans’ may never learn better. These are the folks who never anchor a wire loop with a spiral wire collar, so it won’t pry apart. Who use low-temp soft solder on their pieces, because they don’t know that 1) it can be poisonous and 2) it has a higher probability of failure. Who use dead soft wire and then wonder why the piece distorts so easily. These are basic hobbyists. I’m happy for their joy they take in their work, even while I shake my head at their results.

As with all my Etsy Showcase posts, I want to focus on some of the very best wire artists of today. I can’t get all of them, so if you get addicted, just follow a few of the many ‘Wirework’ Pinterest categories down the rabbithole, and prepare for hours in Wonderland.

A good starting point, as with the Barth bracelet above, are the yearly winners of the Bead & Button conference ‘Bead Dreams’ show, and the Fire Mountain Gems-sponsored jewelry competitions. In whatever technique you love, you can be sure that the winners and finalists really are some of the greatest artisans around.

From New Zealand: the magnificent fiber and wire jewelry artist and couturier Claire Prebble, whose stunning career was cut short by her early death from cancer late in 2015. Claire is famous for wearable art, clothing, masks, headpieces, and other artifacts that incorporate precious metal wire on a near-mythical scale. Her works live on in video and book format, and (for now) here at her website.

There’s a high-powered group of insanely talented wire jewelers working out of Russia and eastern Europe. All of them are amazing. Here are just a couple:

Vanini Design  And a direct link to one of her pieces.

Nastiva Jewelry  Anastasiya Ivanova is another fearless designer.

Out of Germany, JS Jewelry, a wire artist whose ear cuff and other wire designs got me back into the game.

From the United States, one of the reigning champions, Sarah Thompson.

You may notice a similarity between Sarah, Nastiva, and Vanini – they all use hot-work to create ball-formed, flat arcs, and other ‘fancy’ forms to their basic wire. They’re also wicked good at building large-scale wire forms, then filling them with thinner-gauge wire weaving.

Interested to learn this intricate craft? Pinterest and Craftsy are full of tutorials on how to do it well…even if you don’t want to introduce hot work into your pieces.

Jewelry design is another field that has become more inclusive due to mass-produced components and supplies, as well as the booming hobby industry. Fire Mountain Gems, Rio Grande Jewelry Supply, and Plazko.com are some of my favorite suppliers from sterling silver wires in several tempers (hardness levels) for wire jewelry.

I’m just getting back into wire work, and loving it. I have a long way to go, to get near the great artists I’ve listed above.

black silver ear cuff 2.0 blog

 

 

2016 Hugo Awards

It is that lovely time of the summer when the Hugo Awards are happening. In just a few minutes, we’ll see what kind of debacle this will be. Livestreaming here:

http://www.ustream.tv/hugo-awards

Added: congratulations to the deserving winners, the deserving nominees, the suffering announcers, and the sweaty audience of Hotel Debacle. And jeers to the sad and rabid dingbats who must be frothing at the mouth right about now…

Added still later: The Guardian has a good summary of the events.

And from io9, another more partisan account.

Faith and Freedom Coalition Survey Part 2 (political rant)

Faith and Freedom Coalition Survey, Part 2 of 2.

Question 8: What is your opinion of the fact that Hillary Clinton says she wants to use the full force of the government to change the beliefs of Christians to conform with support of same-sex gay marriage and support for abortion-on-demand? I’m given, predictably, the choice of Outrageous, Frightening, Concern, or I Support Hillary’s Call for Criminalizing Christian Moral Teachings, or Not Sure.

Facepalm. These are very clumsy leading choices.

I’m beginning to wonder about the conservative obsession with gay marriage. I mean, I write some gay characters (and straight, and asexual, and wow even non-binary!) and I’m not as obsessed as you.

My gay friends are getting married? Great! The world can be a weird and strange place, it’s good to find someone who loves you through all your foibles and faults. I’m exactly as threatened by gay marriage as I am by straight marriage: in that I’m just as likely to roll my eyes and mutter about expensive gift registries.

As for abortion…hmm, guess what. Young people are too busy dealing with dicey job markets and student loans to have much sex. They’re too poor to move out of their parents’ houses, so hook-ups are tricky. Poverty is not an aphrodisiac.

Abortion levels go down with higher education and access to real, proven family planning aids. Abstinence is a joke. Ignorance is deadly in a world with AIDs and drug resistant sexually transmitted diseases. You want to reduce abortion? Make birth control better. Teach real and effective sex education. Make sure girls aren’t married off in their teens to become broodmares pumping out little Stepford clones.

No one wants Chinese-style mandatory abortion. But like pet spay-and-neuter clinics, we need to be realistic about sex, relationships, and messy reality. The GOP needs to stop being the party of of ‘Forcible Rape’. Stop being the base camp for underhanded legislation that claims to be on behalf of ‘women’s health’, but is really aimed at shutting down women’s health clinics. Those happen to offer a lot more, especially to poor women, than just abortions.

Let’s talk about abortion and Zika, to use one heartbreaking example. The abortion laws in America thawed in response to a previous disease outbreak that caused massive, debilitating, and even fatal birth defects. Are you conservatives pledged to spend the millions of dollars to ‘save’ every Zika baby that does not have a functioning brain? To offer the mother a lifelong stipend so she can care for her Zika baby, herself? Because at the moment, the joke among the younger demographic is that many conservative activists will lie, cheat, and steal to get a pregnant teen to deliver…but offer her nothing but shame and scorn afterward. Or they just want the (healthy) baby to only be raised by ‘good Christian’ straight white adoptive parents.

By now, I’ve about had it with this idiotic survey and I’m tired of finding diplomatic answers. So this time, I do vote I Support Hillary’s Call for Criminalizing Christian Moral Teachings…insofar as that pertains to institutionalized sexism, racism, anti-science nonsense, faith-based medicine, child abuse and endangerment, and child rape. No, your cherished beliefs do not get a pass here.

Drumroll…another Issue Summary: ‘FAITH & FREEDOM COALITION believes that 2016 is probably the most important election of our lifetime because America is heading over a cliff in so many areas – and that America is right now at a “tipping point.” We believe that 2016 is our last chance to save America as the “land of the free” for your children and grandchildren.’

Ah, I see. They’ve narrowed down what they think is my demographic. Wrong again, Ralph. I firmly believe that America is only in critical danger from people like you.

Question 9: How strongly do you agree or disagree with this assessment by FAITH & FREEDOM? Yay, I have the choice of Strongly Agree, Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or No Opinion.

I vote Strongly Disagree. I do worry that you clowns will create your own Apocalypse, and I doubt you’ll have the grace to only take each other out. Can we please have a Rapture here, soon? It may just save the planet.

Question 10: Are you currently registered to vote? The choices are Yes and No. The survey then helpfully offers ‘If your answer is “No,” would you like FAITH & FREEDOM COALITION to send you a Voter Registration Kit?’ Again, a Yes or No answer (with my prediction that if the survey reveals someone sympathetic, they are sending that kit anyway.)

I vote Yes, that I am registered to vote. Honey, I am so registered.

Question 11: Will you solemnly pledge right now to vote in 2016 if you are physically able to do so? A Yes or No choice, followed by an official ‘Important: Please sign on this line to verify your pledge to vote in 2016:’

Oh, to quote Sarah Palin: “You betcha!” I say Yes because I certainly pledge to vote. And I sign, but not with a signature that completely matches my legal one (I don’t trust these folks, after all, and this is not a legally binding document.) I am more committed to voting now, than even before. They’ve mobilized me!

Question 12: Will you also pledge to bring like-minded friends with you to vote in 2016, or to take steps to make sure they vote? Yes or No choice, refreshingly urgent in its simplicity.

Again Yes, and “You betcha!” I’m DMing all my gay millennial friends in about twenty minutes. And all my erotic romance writer friends. And a few age-tamed anarchists I know who are still on the fence.

Question 13: Will you send your best donation right now to FAITH & FREEDOM COALITION to help fund this $12.3 MILLION FINAL 90-Day HOME-STRETCH PUSH Battle Plan Dr. Ralph Reed described to you in his letter, so that we can save the America you love for your children and grandchildren?*

*Their words and capitalization. ‘Nuff said.

The America they love is the one with segregation and the Klan, ‘Strange Fruit’ and Emmett Till, banned abortions, banned birth control, anti-science and isolationist factions in power, and the fantasy of a theocratic empire. Where to prevent black people and white people swimming together in the early 60s (gasp!) Lynchburg VA, filled in three public swimming pools. And this home of Christian Liberty University wasn’t the only American city to go to such drastic lengths to avoid following the law of the land.

And get this: my choices literally are:

Yes, because I share your view that the 2016 Elections is our last chance to save America.

No, because I like the direction America is heading.

Of course this is about money in the end. It’s about money for the Coalition. Money that Trump makes off his name-value association during his political stunts, whether he wins or loses. Money made by lobbyists and political appointees. Money lost by the Trump followers, who still believe that Prosperity gospel will somehow transfer the equivalent of The Donald’s wealth to them. Meanwhile all of them are making my America an uglier, meaner, angrier place.

I vote No.

America is already great, and it can be much greater. Ralph, I don’t want to live in your version of ‘great’ America, because I’ve already seen it in post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction. Yuck.

Added later for emphasis: Ralph Reed says he is ‘counting on’ every good Christian to contribute an average of $26.43 to his fund raiser for Donald Trump. Neither of them are getting one greasy penny from me. In fact, this week I’m calling the Hillary campaign to offer my support.

Because she’s the adult in the room.

Faith and Freedom Coalition Survey, Part 1 (political rant)

Part 1 of 2.

Summary and warning: I get harsh with certain evangelical Christians.

Why did Dr. Ralph Reed and his evangelical Christian Faith and Freedom Coalition send me an advertising pitch disguised as a voter survey? Maybe because I was a registered Republican for many years? I’m a 50ish female Independent voter in Arizona, which is shaping up to be something of a battleground state?

They’re casting their net wide to include me. I haven’t been even a casual Republican for almost 2 decades. I never saw 100% eye-to-eye with many Democratic Party issues, so I became an Independent. I see only the worst tokens of old Republicanism in the Trump cotillion. I also see disturbing parallels to the Nazi Party and Mussolini’s fascist expansion of the late 1930’s.

Even if I were somehow still ‘undecided’, the testimonial letters included in this mailing would be likely enough to push me away. When the likes of Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Mark Levin, Ben Carson, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Tim Scott, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, and Boddy Jindal endorse your movement, I know I’m not welcome in your Big Tent.

So, I thought, I should at least look at this survey, and see what my adversaries are saying. This is new and unscripted: I just opened the thing, and am alternating reading it and typing this post.

Please bear in mind that most of the grammatical and punctuation errors are simply what I’ve copied from the mailing. I’m not editing it beyond paraphrasing when necessary for brevity. The Faith and Freedom folks have a loose idea about grammar and punctuation, I’m afraid.

  1. The survey itself almost exactly mimics a paper ballot in its layout, paper thickness, and size. I’m in marketing, I know this game. Create expectation and anticipation. Fake reality until enough people believe your lie. Frame your narrative to make your conclusion seem correct and inevitable.
  2. The survey opens with a plea to conservative Christian voters to get out and vote in November. It reminds voters that up to 30 million Christian voters stayed home in 2012. In 2014, the coalition prides itself on reaching out to Christian voters, who were only 32% of the electorate but voted 86% Republican, allowing massive sweeps in that midterm election. (Their numbers. I’m not playing fact-check right now.)
  3. The survey aims to energize registered Christian voters and convince the stragglers to register and vote.
  4. The survey expounds repeatedly on the theme that America is doomed unless Christians ‘take it back’ the ‘Left’s radical anti-Christian, anti-family, socialist agenda to transform America.’
  5. The underlying Vote or Die! meme is continued at lower right of the first page, with the direction ‘Continue Official Ballot Inside’ and a large black arrow. I remind my readers this isn’t a real ballot. It’s a fund raising tool aimed at getting millions more dollars for Donald Trump and lesser Republican candidates.

On the inside, again flipped vertical exactly as a legitimate ballot, the survey embarks on 13 questions. Bear with me, as I grab a black ink pen and go through each one.

Question 1: If the election were held today, for whom would you vote? I get a choice of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or a blank spot for a write-in candidate.

Even with my skepticism about Clinton’s ties to big business…and as tempting as it might be to write in ‘Giant Meteor’…I choose Clinton. Why? Because Donald Trump appears to show signs of several psychological disorders, and can’t be trusted with a New Jersey casino, let alone what I think is still one of the greatest countries on earth.

Question 2: How do you rate Barack Obama’s performance as President? I get the choice of Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor, Abysmal, or Undecided.

I choose Fair because I think that we did not get Candidate Obama or even The Rock Obama…we got someone who waffled a lot, was under the delusion he would get any kind of compromise from this new psychotic GOP, and allowed the Republicans to pretty much frame the national narrative over the last eight years. A typical Democratic flaw, alas.

Question 3: If Hillary Rodham Clinton is elected President in 2016, do you think she would be an improvement over Barack Obama, about the same, or worse for America’s future? (Nice leading language on that last point, folks. Frank Luntz should be proud of you.) I get the choice of Worse, A Slight Improvement, No Opinion, About the Same, A Big Improvement, and a large write-in spot for Other. (I’m estimating it’s large enough for one of several Fox Talking Point rants.)

I chose About the Same and write it in, because I see no reason she would change. But then I realize there is one good thing about Clinton’s nearly 30 years of experience with GOP adversaries: she already knows their tricks and probably won’t tolerate as many of their tantrums as Obama has. But I’ve already written in ‘About the Same’. And while Barack Obama has disappointed me in many respects, he and Hillary Clinton share an important trait: they’re both intelligent, rational adults.

Before we get to the next question, we have a block of highlighted text announcing an Issue Summary. Why? Because the Coalition wants to make sure we survey takers understand the Terrible Peril We Face if we answer the next question wrong.

Partial summary text: ‘The next President is likely to have three new Supreme Court Justices and will set the direction of the Supreme Court for generations.’ Then follows some dog-whistle language about gay marriage and other ‘outrageous and unconstitutional rulings’. Imagine the liberal orgy if more left-wing judges get appointed! I have two words to answer that: Citizens United. Liberal-leaning judges did not jam that one through the SCOTUS. The Voting Rights

After all that, the next question is almost anticlimactic.

Question 4: How important to you is it that we elect a President who will appoint Supreme Court justices and federal judges who will follow the Constitution of the United States and NOT just make up their own laws in accordance with their own personal ideological views?

Room here for a comment here about psychological transference, Scalia, Roberts, and Thomas. I’m given the choices of Essential to America’s survival as the “land of the free”, Very Important, Not Important, Important, No Opinion, or that pesky big blank line for Other (another slot for a Talking Point, yay.)

I’m choosing Essential to America’s survival as the “land of the free”, though not for the reasons these alleged patriots might want. For all his faults, Obama is a constitutional scholar. I think the Supreme Court has been hampered (and its reputation harmed) by the actions of Scalia, Roberts, and Thomas…who all played fast and loose with their take on the Constitution.

Not to mention the deep horror I feel while contemplating who and what Donald Trump might appoint as a SCOTUS judge. A business crony? A horse? His wife? A Putin or Erdogan puppet? If he appoints Christian theological judges, we’re up for the Christian version of Sharia Law. No thanks.

Oh, look, another Issue Summary. More spoon feeding leading statements.

‘It’s now obvious that Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the Democrat Party are trying to transform the voting electorate in America by granting amnesty and ultimately citizenship to the estimated 20,000,000 illegal aliens now living in America and inviting tens of millions more illegal immigrants to break into America to become voters. This is how they aim to “fundamentally transform” America (as Obama put it) into a one-party socialist country. According to a new study by the Center for Immigration Studies, 76 percent of immigrants in America who have children are now on at least one welfare program.’

My reaction: What? I think your numbers are far higher than they really are, and I wouldn’t trust any think tank you reference.

I live in the Southwest, I see immigration issues all the time. There are some real problems, but honestly it’s not as bad as you’d think. The real issue, hidden behind all this coded language, is flat out racism, fear of the future, and fear of a Zero Sum Game in which poor white people are last onto the life rafts. Lyndon Johnson pointed out decades ago that as long as poor white people have someone else to piss on, they feel better about their own faults and failures.

Immigrants made the America we love. My Cherokee ancestors might have something to say about all those white people who rolled into Georgia and the Carolinas, and thanks to Andrew Jackson sent my folks on the delightful gallivant known as the Trail of Tears. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure some of those Cherokee ancestors (and English, and German ones) also owned slaves.

I would like to believe in a changing world adapting to terrible pressures, through better social instincts and better science. We are actually in a much less violent world than the one our ancestors knew. We just see more of the awful stuff because of the 24 hour news cycle and the internet. This isn’t a Zero Sum Game in which one group’s gains mean another group’s loss. We can rise together.

So give me what is sure to be your travesty of a next question:

Question 5: How concerned are you about this invasion of illegal aliens that is now overwhelming America’s health care, welfare, and public school system? I’m given the choice of Very Concerned, Not Concerned, Concerned, or No Opinion.

I pick Not Concerned, because this is a straw man issue hiding a lot of other very real problems with health care, welfare, and the public schools. Most of those problems I can lay at the feet of my once-brethren in the GOP, plus a few idiotic Democrats.

Question 6: How concerned are you that, because of this invasion of illegal aliens, we are coming to a point when a conservative pro-freedom candidate will never win another Presidential election in America? I am given the choice of Very Concerned, Not Concerned, Concerned, or No Opinion.

To be fair, I pick Not Concerned, although I would much rather have a write in spot for I SEE YOU, YOU OLD SCARED ASSHOLES! I SEE EXACTLY WHAT THIS IS ABOUT.

This is an issue about freedom, to this coalition: Their freedom to worship and live as they chose, and deny anyone different that same choice. No tolerance. Their way or none. They and ISIS, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and Boko Haram are all the same mindset. It’s just that the Islamic terrorists have gotten away with it by violence, and the evangelical Christians have learned to play the game with politics over the last 50 years. It’s more subtle, but it spells the same doom for the vibrant progressive America that I love.

Donald Trump’s latest angle is repealing some tax-restrictive policies that supposedly inhibit and threaten free worship today…but were once enthusiastically championed by Republicans, when those provisions were drafted to hamper socialist organizations.

You know what, Coalition? I think those tax policies don’t go far enough. I’d like to see NO TAX EVASION from churches, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship. Get a crowbar into those coffers. Pay your share. Render unto Caesar, and all that jazz. Many churches do wonderful, responsible social safety-net work with their tithes. Many others allow their pastors to have gold toilets and Lear Jets. We’re talking billions of dollars in cash, bonds, stock, precious metals, and property.

What next? Oh, stars, another Issue Summary:

‘We have reached a point in America that government will crack down hard on you if you adhere to Christian moral teachings. Christian bakers, photographers, and wedding service providers are being fined by the courts and threatened with prison for declining to participate in gay wedding ceremonies. One Christian baker in Oregon was fined $135,000 for declining to make a wedding cake for a gay marriage ceremony.’

Ugh. I can’t even ponder the GIF I should use for my reaction. Other than a big fat link to all the fact check sites that tell the real versions of these stories. This is just more dog-whistle code.

So-called ‘moral’ viewpoints on gay issues are sharply generational: if you are under 35 you are much more likely to see gay marriage and other gay issues as norms and non threatening. And that scares the crap out of older white conservatives.

I’m not threatened by gay marriage. I don’t think that conservative businesses should be railroaded as much as they might have been, but some of the Culture Wars anti-gay stuff I’ve seen has been ridiculous. If I were a gay person, I wouldn’t ask a conservative to bake my wedding cake. I wouldn’t sue the baker, I’d just agree to disagree and go elsewhere.

But the baker’s side won’t back down, because their entire moral viewpoint is shaped by shutting down and shunning anything that is not their ‘norm’. They not only do not want me to have their cake if I’m gay or somehow ‘other’, they don’t want me to have any cake, or any wedding, or any legal protection against harassment and violence.

Time and again, I see language from the Christian right that conflates ‘compromise’ with ‘criminalize’. Like this next question, which I saw coming several paragraphs ago.

Question 7: How concerned are you that Christianity (which includes Christian moral teachings) is quickly becoming criminalized in America? I’m given a choice of Very Concerned, Not Concerned, Concerned, or I Want Christianity Criminalized.

Sigh. The choices ignore the nuances of compromise and coexistence. I’m an agnostic at best, atheistic to a degree, and always a skeptic. I would not mourn if the more virulent forms of *all* fundamentalist religions were contained or eradicated. I’ve been reading some fascinating and chilling social studies articles about early human societies and the possible links between religiously motivated human sacrifice, authoritarian government, and oppressed populations. Big religion almost always seeks out incestuous relationships with power and privilege. The Trumps and Putins of the world will always court legitimacy with craven or naive religious leaders.

I’m fairly certain that Putin made his deals with the Russian Orthodox Church not because he believes, but because it’s a useful alliance. In Turkey, Erdogan wants a less secular society because the pro Islamist factions are more likely to prop up his personality-cult style of government. Trump is not a moral person by many of the measures Christian conservatives know. By rights, many more of them *should* be labeling him an Anti-Christ. But they and he think they can each control and use the other.

Like any religion, the moderate expression of Christianity is not a bad thing. I have fond memories of the staunch hardworking Calvinists, gentle Presbyterians, and level-headed Methodists I knew growing up. Instead of the ancient Mediterranean cultures’ focus on individuals as cogs in destiny or a state machine, early Christianity gave revolutionary precedence to individual human beings and their personal relationship with the Divine. (That it also encouraged slaves to meekly accept their earthly lot in exchange for exalted rewards in Heaven is a bit bogus, I’ve always thought.)

So no, I emphatically do NOT want to outlaw Christianity. I would like checks and balances on irrational Christian persecution complexes before they lead to the next American Civil War or World War III.

I vote Not Concerned on Question 7, simply because you assholes didn’t give me a reasonable choice.

Ramping up the persecution complex is the next Issue Summary: ‘Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is telling Christians that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” In other words, she is saying Christians need to change their beliefs to agree with gay marriage and abortion-on-demand (including partial birth abortion) and even threatens saying, “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will,” [against those who subscribe to Christian moral beliefs].’

Okay, wow, let me unpack that for a moment. Cultures change. Secularism and humanism is on the rise, and that terrifies some Christians. Not all, I might add: Reed’s coalition and his like-minded allies certainly do not speak for all Christian-identifying folks in America. Demographics shows that younger Americans are far more likely to be un-Churched if not nonreligious than older citizens. Reed and his coalition know they are on the losing side of history, and this is their last attempt to hold onto their cherished moral beliefs.

Some of which are good, and some are awful. I’ve read my Bible through multiple times, I’ve seen the sublime passages, the ridiculous, the unsavory, and the horrifying.

The conservative right has made demons out of the liberal left. The liberal left has typically passively ignored or mocked many of the right’s complaints. But if conservatives push too far the other way, they risk utterly alienating not only this younger generation, but many more to follow. Moderation and compromise are not utter defeat. If that’s the only language you understand, so be it.

(Continued in Part 2.)

 

Writer’s Dilemma: 2016 edition

I’ve entered a manuscript into the 2016 Pitch Wars.

I’m one of about 2000 writers vying for 128 slots, to be mentored for two months while I revise the mms. In early November, the mentee authors get a chance to have their work considered by a large group of agents and publishers. I have a very small chance to be selected in this first round, and no guarantee that my mms will go anywhere in November.

I’m doing this to meet other authors, and to get fresh eyes on this story.

The Pitch Wars and mentors have rightfully and repeatedly warned participating authors to watch what we say and do on social media. Normally, I’d agree.

But this is 2016 and America is facing one of the most important Presidential elections in our history. I’m about to post two blog entries that will no doubt earn the ire of many socially conservative readers…among them, prospective writing partners, agents, and editors. If so, so be it. They and I would probably not be good social or business partners, anyway. If this gets me bounced out of this contest or other opportunities…again, so be it.

This particular manuscript won’t be harmed if I trunk it again, or query it directly to the Big Five or good small publishers…or self-publish.

My fiction is important to me, as is all my art. But life is even more important. I couldn’t do much of my art in the world that a lot of the strict religious fundamentalists – of any religion – seem to want.

My art is certainly not as important as this election.

So fair warning, readers.

Silver Ear Cuffs, revisited

(And a bonus Craft Credo rant!)

I had forgotten how much fun wire wrapping can be. After a clunky start, I’m picking up on skills I left dormant a decade or more ago. Ear cuffs (aka ear jackets, ear couplings, etc) are a fun but ambitious way to jump back into this technique.

Black silver ear cuff 1.2 blog1) Here’s a slightly reworked version of the first set of blackened silver ear cuffs.

The coil over the top of the ear was too loose, resulting in too many pressure points for comfort. I ran another coil parallel to the first to fill in some of those gaps, and used the excess on either end to make some spiral finials.

Silver wire, ballpins, quality tags, and chain from Plazko.com. Gems largely from Tucson Rock & Gem Show vendors and The Bead Garden of Sedona. These still have issues, so I probably won’t sell them.

Height: 4.75″ Width (outer) 1.5″ (inner) 1.1″ Materials: sterling silver, aquamarine, smokey quartz. Weight: .8oz

black silver ear cuff 2.0 blog2) Here’s the second set of blackened silver ear cuffs.

Note the tighter spiral wrapping over the upper curve, and the more-controlled shapes of the lower hoops. Instead of using manufactured chain, I wire-wrapped chain links from 20 gauge round silver wire, carved crystal quartz (rock crystal), and garnet beads. Why? One, I’m cheap and nobody had premade lengths of similar chain, in the right gauge, for anything near what I can afford. Two, the chain design mirrors the tight spiral of the ear hook.

Gemstones from The Bead Garden of Sedona.* Silver wire, quality tags, and ballpins from Plazko.com. These ear cuffs are extremely wearable, and I’ll likely put them up for sale online in the near future.

Height: 5.5″ Width (outer) 1.25″ (inner) 1.1″ Materials: sterling silver, garnet, crystal quartz. Weight: 1.2oz

Both pieces oxidized with Win-Ox patina solution from Lonnie’s Inc.

*Other gemstone suppliers may include Bead WorldBeads Galore, and innumerable thrift store discoveries. I’ve been at this long enough that I may have forgotten where I got some of the beadstash, over the years. I’m lucky I remember what I have.

Note: there’s definitely going to be another Etsy Showcase blog post soon. It might be fun to contrast the very basic examples of wire wrapping with some of the truly sublime pieces out there. (I have a very high mountain to climb, just looking at the latter.)

***

And now, a rant.

Today’s bit of the jewelry Craft Credo: whenever possible, make your own findings. Customize manufactured findings, chain, etc. with your own touches. I could buy very basic sterling silver ear jackets online for $2.5 to $5.00 each, from a few Etsy stores, and add my dangles.

But I’m picky. Most of those have un-anchored open wire loops that can pull apart. Often, the maker may not know the critical need to file and smooth-burnish every snipped wire end, to reduce cuts and snags. (One difference between hobby jewelers and those of us who sweated and scorched our way through bench jewelry training.)

Like these gold-tone wires, which are good, but not great:

For between $12 to $20 depending on gauge (thickness) I can buy 16 to 30 feet of sterling silver wire from my favorite suppliers, and have plenty of material to play with.

This way if I need a sturdy ear jacket with a certain kind of wrapping, I know it’s mine with a little planning and effort. If I want drapes of strong garnet, crystal, and silver wire-wrapped chain, I can make them myself, to my exact needs.

In nearly any creative field, hobbyists are limited to pre-made items or collections in kits. Artisans can jump right into altering products or making what they need from basic components. (Yes, I know how to smelt silver ore and make my own wire. In two historically accurate ways. I have no real need or time to do so.)

What stops many hobbyists, other than cost? Fear of failure.

Pffft. The first set of ear cuffs above are failures, by my standards. I can’t sell them because I’d be worried about them hurting someone. If the right forewarned victim comes along and offers to wear test them for a decade or so, I’m probably going to say ‘Go for it’. The near-certainty of failure did not stop me from making the damn things.

Because I learned while I was making them. Same with other art forms, trades, skills, and writing (especially writing!)

Fall in love with the process and the journey, and ‘failure’ becomes just another valuable step.

Blackened Silver Ear Cuffs

Nearly any fantasy writer knows someone who cosplays the Lord of the Rings* movies. It may actually be a rule of fandom, I’m not sure. The jewelry, props, and costumes were that damned good. I draw the line at some of the ‘elf ear’ pointy earcuffs, because I’ve only seen a few that were magnificent.

But regular ol’ ear cuffs? Gimme.
Black silver ear cuffs for blogThese were an experiment this weekend, inspired by some examples I found online. I’m still playing with the exact shape to bend these, to fit my ears, but I’ll get there. They’re really clumsy compared to the ones I’m going to show you on the next Etsy Showcase, fair warning.

Dimensions: 5.25″H x 1.8″W

Materials: .925 sterling silver round wire, .925 sterling silver ballpins, smokey quartz, aquamarine, .925 sterling silver Italian-style quality tag. Aquamarines from a Tucson Rock & Gem Show vendor. Smokey quartz from Beads Galore. Silver wire, ballpins, and tags from Plazko.com.

Finish: oxidized with Win-Ox, then satin stripped with 900-grit wet/dry sandpaper. I’ll probably give them shinier highlights with some oxide buffing.

Time to make: 2.5 hours (ish)

Final cost: to be determined. I rarely sell prototypes, but I have been known to give them away to deserving victims test wearers.

*The new cosplay drug of choice being Game of Thrones, which is a whole other post.

My Pitch Wars bio

So, apparently I’m doing this thing called Pitch Wars next week. I have my first chapter reasonably polished, hammered together something that might pass for a hook, cooked up an 800-word synopsis, and achieved a query that didn’t make my current CPs barf. I am exhausted but happy.

For people stalking my mms, there’s plenty on that buried in the rest of this blog. I’ll make it simple. It’s a big secondary-world high fantasy quest/romance novel about music, ancient bio-weapons, sentient amnesiac black holes, oppressed populations, incipient civil wars, and three people who really need to talk honestly to each other more often. Like I said, simple.

For people stalking me, I’m really rather boring. The most interesting thing about me right now is my hair, which is partly cobalt blue right now. And my terrible taste in socks.

I’ve been a commercial and fine artist for a couple of decades. Some of my areas of expertise chosen obsessions are silversmithing, beadwork, embroidery, acrylic painting, costuming, couture clothing, masks, book art sculptures, and digital art.

I’ve had art in some national exhibitions and fancy coffee-table art books. My book art pieces are represented by two incredible galleries, who sell my work to collectors around the world. I have art online at a few sites, both for display and for sale.

By day I write marketing and catalog copy for an international jewelry-making supply firm.

In my spare time, I write science fiction, fantasy, fanfiction, and original erotic romance. I’m apparently not supposed to let on how much I’ve written.

Some of it has even been published by royalty-paying publishers.

What do I want out of Pitch Wars? Nearly everyone wants an enthusiastic, skilled agent and maybe a very nice deal down the road. But my years in art have taught me that the outcomes and odds can be so improbable that you’d better be doing something you love. That you would do anyway. That you cannot not do. That the journey itself may be more important, and lead to even more amazing places than you ever dreamed.

So I’m hoping to connect with some more mentors who will become good friends, that maybe I can help as much as they could help me. Even if I don’t make it into the later rounds, just doing this has helped me clarify my goals.

Onward!

 

An #SFFPit analysis

This deserves a post of its own. Dan Koboldt has this reasoned and honest breakdown of last months’ #SFFpit Twitter pitch event.

The Fifth SFFpit and Twitter Pitch Fatigue

I’ve linked to it here, because it has some very good info for people just now querying science fiction and fantasy. Some mitigating factors include bad timing in June, ‘twitter pitch fatigue’ because of so many events, and small sample size.

Point 1: YA still dominates the pitch field, so we can draw a rough estimate that there are still at least a third more Young Adult authors than Adult authors trying to break into the field. This is a good thing in one way, because we need to keep pushing the quality and number of SFF books in YA. As long as YA SFF is separated from adult (it wasn’t, until about 15-20 years ago), it’s a main ambassador of SFF to younger readers.

It’s a bad thing for primarily Adult authors, because they may coming away with the picture that publishers, agents, their fellow authors, and the market itself supports YA speculative fiction more than it supports adult. I don’t think that’s the whole picture, from looking at publishers’ catalogs, but it does seem to indicate that un-agented writers may have an easier time getting publisher interest if they are writing YA. It also seems to indicate that many agents (whether they openly admit it or not) seem to be more favorably disposed to YA authors.

Point 2: agent and editor participation was down sharply, and seemed to show fewer of what I’d deem responsible professional publishers. There were many more newer publishers and younger agents, often a warning sign meriting a lot more research.

Point 3: Dan ended his analysis with a pitch for the upcoming PitchWars. This may be good for some authors. PitchWars, according to Dan, gives un-agented authors a chance to have ‘published/agented authors, editors, or interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer critiques on how to make the manuscript shine.’

I’m still dithering about participating in PitchWars, mostly because of timing and market issues. I’m also probably not going to participate in more general Twitter pitching contests. It was a fun experiment, I learned a lot from it, I had valuable feedback…but in the end, I didn’t make any serious headway.

Packing and shipping for dummies

A subtweety primer, for folks who ship stuff from online sales:

If you are selling glass jars of honey over international borders, it doesn’t matter if you carefully wrap all jars in bubble wrap…if you push them against one side of a too-small cardboard box! Nor does the amount of air-packs and newspaper you stuffed into the other side.

I’d like to think the bad arrangement was Customs doing its Thing, and not you…but YOU chose the small box. Remember: breakables go into the center of the box, with at least 3″ of crushable packing around them on all sides. Putting ‘Fragile Glass Inside’ tape outside was apparently taken as an invitation, not a warning, because this box came looking like it had barely survived an airplane crash. Nothing was broken, by sheer luck.

We won’t discuss how you managed not to pack a single jar of the honey actually ordered.

Also, if you are selling delicate porcelain jewelry components off Etsy, please don’t shove them all into a small clear plastic bag together, tape the bag tightly, then shove that into a padded mailer. Ceramics crunch and break when crushed by, say, automatic mail sorting machines. Again, by sheer stupid luck, not a piece was broken. But they should have been separately bagged or bagged individually in plastic foam, then shipped in a more rigid box.

I wrap and ship things professionally, and have for the past 20+ years through several jobs. If you don’t know how to wrap things, and you cannot afford to have your local UPS, DHL, or FedEx depot do it for you…LEARN.

Here is a UPS guideline set to packing.

Here’s the catalog for Gaylord, a museum-grade archival firm whose products I use a lot when prepping pieces for shipping or longterm storage.

Etsy itself even has this comprehensive guide: How to pack and ship anything.

Do these things, and you will have happier customers. Return customers. Customers who will not call you out with snide blog posts.

Ciao!

Moro’s Price first edition 2012 to 2016

I say ‘first edition’ because I have several future paths for my first published novel, now that its association with Loose Id LLC has come to an end. Moro’s Price no longer exists as an ebook on Amazon.com, or on the Loose Id website. Over the next month or so, it will leave AllRomance Ebooks, Barnes&Noble, and its other vendors.

If you see it there and want this version, this will be your last chance.

I’ve enjoyed working with Loose Id, and wish the company and its authors the very best going forward. For me, rights reversion came at a good time, letting me revise the story to better fit its planned sequels and the larger universe it inhabits.

Moro Jade Disc

What happens next to the story of Val and Moro? That very much depends on what happens with the (very slightly) related mms I’m currently shopping. I have a lot of options, all of them interesting.

When I know, I’ll pass the word.

My deepest gratitude to Loose Id for taking a chance on the book in 2012, for Cherry Weiner for going to bat for me over contract issues, and all the people who read, enjoyed, and reviewed the book.

Linen pearl scarf in progress

pearl scarf progress for blog

A progress shot of the constructed-fabric scarf I just made from some of these gray-tan linen strips I showed before.

scarf strips

I posted the image on Twitter a few minutes ago, so here are the specifics:

Size: 80″x9″

Materials: 1.25×80″ linen strips / matching thread / some secret ingredients / 140 flat mother-of-pearl shell rectangle beads.

I’m just territorial enough that I won’t go into production specifics, but anyone who knows fabric will be able to tell. I will say this: it’s way too much sewing for something this basic.

The grid foundation is done, washed to frizz it out further. Now I’m hand-sewing on those shell rectangles for a bit of glimmer. I’d dithered about huge freshwater pearl coin beads, or 5mm flat tourmaline square beads. Both would have meant another $80 to $100 in rather fragile beads. So I settled for creamy natural mother-of-pearl, which can be cold-water hand-washed with gentle soap. That’s only $25 added to the cost.

Given other materials and sheer labor, this will still easily be a $200+ scarf when I’m done. Not cost effective enough for large production, but a fun proof of concept for me. It’s great when the final piece comes close to what I imagined!

And it’s very wearable, even now (so fuzzy).

 

Thrift store treasures: flask and black gloves

One of the perks of living in a large, relatively low-income Sun Belt city is the diversity of thrift store finds.

As I’ve mentioned before, a lot of this transferred wealth comes from tragedy: retirees dying off and their heirs shoveling stuff to Goodwill or the dump, divorced or unemployed folks suddenly having to get rid of possessions they’ve no room to keep, and transferred workers leaving for out-of-state jobs and dropping off their sparse gear rather than move with it.

This benefits the careful and patient shopper. I am always very conscious of the past sacrifices I witness whenever I walk into a resale store. Today, Goodwill was kind enough to furnish me a 3oz, unmarked, flawless stainless steel hip flask for $3, a gift for a friend. I’ll look into etching his personal sigil on it.

flask for blog

And these incredible black leather gloves with sewn geometric applique detail and nickel-plated brass studs, for $4.

black gloves for blog.

They scream ‘cosplay’ no matter what I do to them.

Thank you, unknown people, for letting me be the next owner of your stuff.

Learn to write with Girl Genius

I love this graphic novel series enough to have it in my sidebar. I follow several dozen online and print graphic novels, because they’re excellent. If I included them in the links, it would be probably bore you.

Girl Genius is there for lots of reasons.

Give me 600 words, and I’ll blather about why I love it. And why new writers of high and epic fantasy are well-served if they pick up some pointers from Kaja and Phil Foglio’s masterwork Girl Genius. (There are hundreds of other graphic novels and manga that could help, as well. Pick one you like, read critically, and apply.)

  1. Story beats. Girl Genius is a multi-part graphic novel, a comic book adventure on steroids. Bless the internet for making things like this more available! Because it is a gigantic page-by-page series of graphic novels, this story has clear and recognizable beats. There is at least one major, interesting, or funny (or all three) thing happening on every page. There are always peripheral events happening, too, which just add to the fun.
  2. Depth and worldbuilding. I’ve been following since around November of 2010. I’m regularly blown away by the incredible detail in the world of Agatha Heterodyne and her friends…and how it all supports rather than overwhelms this story.
  3. Plot. Yes, Virginia, there is a plot. A vast and devious one, that frequently hides its tracks in hilarious or heartbreaking side quests. I trust the Foglios to know exactly where they’re going.
  4. Art. Graphic novel, duh. The Foglios have realized a lot of the early promise I saw in the Dragon Magazine runs of ‘Phil and Dixie’ (yes, I am that old.) The art of Girl Genius brings together an incredibly skilled team, to create some of my most favorite characters in a gorgeous world. Also, this team loves costumes.
  5. Diversity. Kind, calm, matter-of-fact diversity, where lots of different kinds of people interact without the slightest hint of our worlds’ racist and sexist attitudes. And without any of the self-conscious, aggressively overt, and equally divisive posturing that often seems to flavor arguments from the real world’s more left-of-center population. Agatha’s world has its own serious problems, but the color of one’s skin and the nuances of one’s gender identity and preferences do not seem to be an issue. The Foglios and their team are not afraid to write and portray real people with real bodies and minds.
  6. Merchandising. Yes, there are great T-shirts, pins, toys, etc. available from the main website and its affiliates. But the Foglios and their team have skillfully navigated some major developments in outreach and sales. They fund collections of their works with popular, well-considered, and very lucrative Kickstarter campaigns. They’re active at genre conventions and through social media. Probably most ambitious, they’ve adapted the visual media of their graphic novels into text. Book versions! Ebooks and print novelizations that tell the same story, but offer exciting new tangents that fill in the whole epic in all its formats.
  7. Responsibility. The Foglios and their team are incredibly generous with their time. From working with and helping showcase other graphic novel creators, to donations of time and goods to worthy causes, and actually stepping away from Hugo Awards nominations so other people could have a shot…Okay, I’m sniffling sentimentally here. But the creative community really needs to have its kinder, gentler inspirations, in the face of so many ‘Screw you, I got mine’ success stories.

Every single one of these points are things that benefit other writers. Learn from the Professors Foglio, folks.

‘Of Lips And Tongue’ by A.G. Carpenter

Delaney Green is one of them that don’t burn.

Touch Trilogy 1 cover AG Carpenter

Possessed of the Touch – with the ability to not only see the future but manipulate it – she’s been kept in an institution for most of her life. When the Salesman, a murderous entity with a connection to Delaney’s past, starts burning girls to death, FBI Agent Percival Cox gives her the chance to leave the asylum behind. But he presents an even greater threat and she must risk flesh and bone in order to keep him from becoming a Power more destructive than the Salesman.

I was lucky enough to read this novella in bits and pieces as a beta reader for A.G. Carpenter. Seeing everything stitched into place just proves all over again: this woman can write with the best of them.

Many novellas (my stuff included) can suffer from too little worldbuilding and story. A.G. has a deft touch with just the right amount of setting and plot, character and atmosphere, and social commentary slipped into a roller-coaster of a story. My Twitter blurb about this book may say just enough to avoid spoilers:

If you like dark, unsettling, gorgeous Southern Gothic books with a taste of Southern Fried X-Files, this novella might be your cuppa.

Second-best part: it’s part of a trilogy coming from Falstaff Books. First best part: I’ve already read some of the second book!

Amazon buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Lips-Tongue-Touch-Trilogy-Novella-ebook/dp/B01HMVHOVW

B&N buy link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/of-lips-and-tongue-a-g-carpenter/1124017184

A.G. Carpenter’s Amazon Author page (worth a look, I promise.)

She will be at LibertyCon next week