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Hypocrites and idiots abound… April 29, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in annoyance, hypocrites-and-idiots-abound.
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By now, I think most people have heard about Judy Buranich, the high school English teacher who writes erotica under a penname, and who is being accused of everything up to and including pedophilia because of this. Personally, I think that the two women who are leading the charge against her are the fruit-loops here (one of whom admits to being a former student — wonder if Mrs. Buranich failed her or something?)

Something similar happened to me late last year. You see, I didn’t put the WHOLE story in that post. Later that same day, I was contacted by the school admins, who were FREAKING OUT about my talk. Despite the fact that the teachers told them that I said nothing untoward, and despite the fact that they had my website information and could have looked me up at any time, they had only just then looked at my blog and seen what exactly it was that I wrote. And they went ballistic. They were also not happy that I had the presence of mind to turn it around on them (You’ve had my information for a month. You’re only just looking at it now?) I’m lucky, thought. I don’t have a teaching career anymore that could have been jeopardized.

And now, today… there are groups now, over on LinkedIn. I found one for Authors and Writers, and I applied to join, sending them the requested information (professional credits and website). This morning, I was not only declined membership, I was blocked — I can’t even access the page anymore!

On the Groups site, the description of this group is: “This is a group for all serious and would-be Authors, Poets, and Writers, of all categories to mix, meet, and make friends.”

Really? I don’t think so.

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Shortest tease ever… April 27, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in KermitArms, Princes of Air, SOLD!, SQUEEE, upcoming work, writing, yippee.
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I’ve been given the go ahead to announce…

Coming from Circlet Press

PRINCES OF AIR!!!

I sold the novel!!!!

Ahem…. April 27, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in a-writers-life-is-never-dull, Good news, happy-happy- joy- joy, KermitArms, wow, yippee.
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EEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!OMFG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!KERMITARMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!EEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

*cough*cough*cough*

That is all.

I… ummm… uh April 27, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in legal junk, Sable Locks, sex, writing.
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I just posted chapter 9  of House of Sable Locks to the crit group, along with comments on the problems I anticipate from the content. (Seriously, Chapters nine and ten might make the whole book unpublishable in the current publishing market. An under-aged main character (he’s sixteen, which was not underaged at the time the story was set) involved in an abusive relationship with a manipulative psychopath (who is only a year older)… yeah, a bit hard to get past the morality police, I think).

One of the people who have been critting since chapter 1 told  me that any possible resolutions would be like taking chainsaws to a Rodin. I am so completely blown away by this comment, I can’t even… wow!

Bear of very little brain.. April 24, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in annoying-muse-is-annoying, inspiration-strikes-OW.
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Today, I am doing a damn fine impression of Winnie-the-Pooh. My head is stuffed with fluff, and I’m having a sit and a good think. I was up way too late last night finishing up the cooking for today (why do I do this to myself? It’s just the three of us!), and then up way too early to get the bread for breakfast into the oven (Almond Babka — om nom nom!!!! However, WAY too many Weight Watcher points for one serving. Sigh.)

Anyhow, now I’m starting to think about what we’re having for dinner (not ham), and exploring the WONDERFUL Internet Sacred Text Archive. If you’re a writer and you haven’t found this site yet, go check it out! AMAZING collection of sacred writings from around the world and from throughout history. I was doing some looking for Victorian esoterica, for the gaslight fantasy I’m planning (if you actually read my to-do lists, I mean the Mystere books). Found some good stuff, too. Had to find free downloads on GoogleBooks for some and bookmark others to read online, but I’ve got a whole mess of lovely research to do.

I noticed a subject on Women’s Studies, and went looking there. Found a research book on cults and rituals associated with the Amazons. And other on Cretan mysteries. And that was when the Muse snuck up on me with a mallet.

In the last update to the list, I got tired of seeing (no title yet) for book 2 of the Mystere books. So I slapped a title on it — Blood and Gaslight. And I hated it. Blood and Gaslight is, too my mind, the perfect title for a Sherlock Holmes/Dracula crossover — because it was a Sherlock Holmes/Dracula crossover, a graphic novel from the mid-80s. I have a copy somewhere.

I’ve always intended to change the title, but I had no idea what the title was. The plot wasn’t telling me — until I found those two books on Sacred Texts.

The title of Mystere Book 2 will be The Lady and the Sword.

And that is enough thinking for one day. Happy Zombie Savior Day!

The Son of the To-Do List April 14, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in to-dos.
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I’m focusing mostly on Sable Locks right now, and seem to be doing well, although I’ve blogged a little about the lovely ethical dilemmas with chapter 9.  Sigh.
To Write:

  • House of Sable Locks (novel, in progress)
  • Drum Mage
  • Sea Prince (To be written with Danielle Jones)
  • Wanderer’s Moon (next book in the Midnight Moon series.)

To Outline

  • Coral Throne (sequel to Sea Prince)
  • Hidden Things (Mystere Book 1)
  • Blood and Gaslight (Mystere Book 2)
  • Ashes and Light (Mystere Book 3)
  • Tablets of Stone (Mystere Book 4)
  • Tales from the Arena
  • Rainbow Wars (the teach-in idea. May be YA. And it needs a better title)

To Sell

  • Nomad’s Moon
  • Exile’s Moon
  • Princes of Air
  • Silk Skin (short story)

Allow to percolate

  • Professional virgin story (no title as of yet)
  • Wandering star story

Excerpt: Infernal Machine April 12, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in Carnal Machines, excerpt.
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>In honor of the EARLY release of Carnal Machines, I decided to put up a little something. Here’s an excerpt from Infernal Machines, which I wrote under my pen-name of Elias A. St. James.

Enjoy!

****

Gently, I eased my tool into the opening, easing my way down the tight passage. I made sure to restrain myself, knowing that as eager as I was, I might damage something if I simply rushed in. Instead I moved deliberately, seeking the treasures hidden within….
“Blast!” My probe clattered to the floor as I jammed my bleeding thumb into my mouth and glared at the machine in front of me. Across the room, my lover looked up from his book.
“Elijah?” he asked, clearly wanting an explanation.
“The infernal machine savaged me,” I grumbled around my thumb. I turned so that I could look at Sasha, a much more pleasant view than the obstinate machine that now seemed to be laughing at me. Aleksandr Andreyevich Koslov, affectionately called Sasha, was sprawled indolently on our bed, looking very much the dissolute Russian nobleman. I’d been dizzy in love with Aleksandr since our first day at L’Académie des Sciences Mécaniques in Paris. And, for some reason I never understood, he loved me in return. It couldn’t have been my breeding; compared to his bloodlines, my own pedigree was pure peasantry. My father was a rabbi in a small village just outside Calais, my mother a rabbi’s wife and the daughter of another rabbi. I was the oldest of six children, and until two years ago, the one destined to follow my father’s footsteps. Until the day I took apart the boiler in my mother’s kitchen and redesigned it so that it was twice as efficient and used less than half the fuel. When my father saw what I had done, he decided that my younger brother would be better suited to the life of a rabbi. I, Elijah Moyse Saloman, was to be an Artificer, the first ever from our village. I’d arrived in Paris without even the barest hint of the world I was going to be thrust into. Wild, wicked Montmarte, with its cabarets and music halls, and its whores of either sex. And wild, wicked Sasha, whom I loved like I loved no other.
Sasha swung his legs over the edge of the bed and stood up, crossing over to sit down on the floor next to me. He was incredibly handsome, his long, dark hair hanging loose around his shoulders, his shirt hanging open to better face the heat of the summer afternoon. He frowned slightly at the machine and then poked me in the shoulder. “So what is this thing? You’ve not told me yet.”
“I haven’t?” I frowned, thinking back. Surely I’d mentioned something…?
“No. For four days you’ve barely said a word to me. You haven’t eaten, unless I was feeding you. The only times you’ve come to bed was when I picked you up and put you there myself, usually after you’d passed out on the floor. So what is this thing that you are so enamored of? Other than being the most singularly ugly chair that I have ever seen?”
I grinned at his very apt description; it wasa singularly ugly chair, if that was all it was. Surely, that was all the that ironmonger had thought it, or else he’d never have let me have it for the pittance I paid. I reached out and ran my fingers over the now-bright brass. “It’s a Carstairs machine.”
“It isn’t!” Sasha gasped, leaning closer. “How can you tell?”
“The hinges. Look at them; no one but Carstairs used that odd box hinge.” It had been that detail that had caught my eye and sent me scrambling after the cart. “That was my first hint. Then I found his mark when I was polishing the brass. There, where the seat casts a shadow. Do you see it?”
Sasha nodded, “I see it… but none of his other works are this ugly. His work was always simple and elegant.”
He was right, of course. Carstairs had been the Artificer’s Artificer, and his work had always been simple in form. The complexity, he’d always said, was on the inside. The design on this chair was elaborate, with brass scroll-work ornamenting nearly the entire construct. “An early work, do you think?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Sasha shrugged. “What does it do?”
That was the question I was hoping he wouldn’t ask. “I don’t know yet,” I admitted. “I’ve cleaned and polished the entire thing, I’ve made certain that the boiler and the tank work, I’ve replaced anything that looked like it might have needed to be replaced, but I can’t get into this compartment.” I tapped the panel that formed the pedestal for the seat. “It does open… I think. There is a seam here, and hinges on the edges.”
Sasha leaned in close enough that I could smell the light fragrance of the soap he used. He nodded, “I see. Well, that is annoying. You can’t tell what it does without opening the case, and if you break open the case, it might not work at all.” Sasha looked at me with his fabulously wicked grin. “Have you fired the boiler?”
I shook my head, “Not yet. I wanted to be certain that everything else worked first.”
“And everything works now?”
“As far as I can tell.” I glared at the recalcitrant chair. Without a word, Sasha got to his feet, fetched the pitcher from the washstand, and ceremonially poured water into the tank.
“Then we shall fire this Carstairs’ machine and see what the master wrought and what the student rescued!” he declared, throwing an elaborate bow in my direction. I laughed and went to fetch some kindling.
It took time to get a good head of steam. When finally the gauges showed that we had adequate pressure, Sasha came to stand next to me in front of the chair to watch the show.
Nothing happened. We watched and waited in nervous silence for nearly five minutes, then Sasha coughed and looked at me.
“Is there… a switch? A lever? Some way to turn it on?” he asked.
I shook my head slowly, “Not that I found. You look. Maybe I missed it.”
He knelt down and crawled around the blasted chair, hunting for a switch that I already knew didn’t exist. When finally Sasha was convinced, he sat down next to me on the floor, shoulder pressing against mine, and cursed roundly in Russian before repeating himself in French.
“Four days! Four days you’ve wasted on this…. infernally ugly chair, and all it does is clutter the room!” he railed while I sighed and turned away, starting to clean up my tools. To my surprise, Sasha grabbed the back of my shirt and pulled me into his arms, my back against his chest. “Four days where all you’ve done in bed is snore at me,” he whispered into my ear, tugging my shirt open with one hand, his other hand slipping into my trousers and closing around my quickly hardening cock. I leaned my head back against his shoulder, and was rewarded by his teeth along my neck, nibbling just hard enough to sting. He tugged at my shirt, pulling it off my shoulders, dipping his head down to lick the spot where my shoulder met my neck. Then he shifted, tipping me back until I was lying on the floor with him kneeling over me. He ran his hands down my chest to my waist, fumbling at the buttons on my trousers; I could see how his own trousers were bulging outwards, and moaned softly, reaching for his waist. He laughed and pushed my hands down, tugging my shirt and braces down so that my arms were tangled in them.

SQUEEE!!!!! April 6, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in Carnal Machines.
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>I got my author copies of Carnal Machines today. Opened the package and squee’d loud enough that bats all over the state are going “Damn, what was that?”

April 5, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in Boosting the signal.
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>

Support rape crisis centers and enter to win an advance copy of The Snow Queen’s Shadow, by Jim C. Hines.

Guest Blog: Creative Commons and the Small Press April 5, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in creative commons, guest post.
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>

Today I’ve got a special guest blog, from Brandon H. Bell of  Fantastique Unfettered. It’s an interesting look at an alternative to traditional copyright — Creative Commons. Check it out! 

***
Hail Caesar: Creative Commons and the Small Press
Brandon H. Bell
It is not these well-fed long-haired men that I fear, but the pale and the hungry-looking.
                                                                                         –Julius Caesar
1. Write story
2. Get said story published
3. Profit! Karma!
I believe short fiction is important. The small press magazine I edit (Fantastique Unfettered, aka FU) uses a Creative Commons license, CC-BY-SA*, for reasons related to this view, and in service to the dual end-goals of money and karma on behalf of the writers we publish.
Our alignment is not indie against corporate, small against large, or fan against pro. Those are foolish stances. Our alignment is one against obscurity**, expressed via a pragmatism that acknowledges money may or may not follow our good karma. We certainly hope it does: our goal, after providing quality fiction to our readers, is to pay writers professional rates.
This article will appear in the second issue of FU, but I hope it’s not where you originally read it. You see, it carries the same CC-BY-SA license. A Creative Commons, Attribution, ShareAlike license, meaning that others can do pretty much anything they want with the article, but they must give attribution and release under the same. Each instance of a presentation, adaptation, or derivative of the article is, essentially, a finger pointed back at FU. Um, not that finger.
The old world-think of walled gardens and content farms suggests the only way forward is copyright extensions, possibly to perpetuity. Our old-thinkers recognize the current audience is merely the first audience. It’s a numbers game, and while individual creators will not make much to crow over statistically, the bulk IP of the mass of creators certainly will. These Caesars would own human culture, every song a commercial jingle, every myth protected by a ™.
I’m not an ideologue: I’ve stated in blog posts that I don’t know how well CC-BY-SA scales, and for the Stephen Kings of the world, traditional copyright may be the only reasonable default for their work. Creative Commons is a tool, in a toolbox that includes tradition copyright, and I have no prohibition against the latter (though even if I reach ‘rockstar’ level, I would ensure my work returns to the culture at some point.)
With Aether Age (our first CC-BY-SA project, a shared world of space-faring Greeks and social revolutions in Egypt) we’ve made the work immediately available to the culture. The same is true of FU. The same will be true of my novella, Elegant Threat, to be release in the M-Brane Double #1 later this year. The New People by Alex Jeffers, the other half of the Double, will carry a traditional copyright. My first novel may carry a traditional copyright, depending on the publisher.
Writers deserve to be paid for their work, and we hope that you, dear reader, will take an active interest in supporting short fiction. If not FU then some other venue. As a writer I hope to someday make loads of cash at my craft and to have people bemoan my place on the NYT list. That hack, they’ll complain as I laugh my way to the bank. (Yeah, it’s a writer thing.) So, a final reminder that our use of Creative Commons licensing is not purely ideological or a revolt against traditional publishing.
Creative Commons licensing does not rob writers of ownership of their work, the ability to publish it in anthologies, collections, or even to waive the license to accommodate incoming requests to publish/adapt under other terms.
The license is a tool to reach readers, and to proclaim cultural relevance to the future. Maybe our work, and work like it, becomes an island of open/libre culture in a future of copyrighted IP masquerading as culture. We intend to run FU much like a nonprofit (though it isn’t a nonprofit), to not profit off the periodical ourselves, but to use any incoming funds to make FU self-sustaining, then better pay our contributors.
CC-BY-SA is a tool for proactively freeing art to the culture, and will be right for some projects, and wrong for others. It is a tool for generating karma and reaching more readers. The other CC licenses and traditional copyright are also valid tools.
While the small press is a valuable part of the greater cultural ecosystem, big publishers (and big writers) are our heroes. Copyright is, ultimately, agnostic, insofar as it allows creators and their families to benefit from their work. The same is true of Creative Commons, and use of CC licenses does not preclude profitability.
It would be easy to stop there, with that pithy statement ignoring the real challenge we face in obscurity. The small press is a playground for the new, the odd, the possibly non-commercial –or not commercial right now–, the niche. The small press bears the responsibility to pursue the mandates of a given niche while striving for a quality of content, presentation, and a dedication to the idea that if anyone should be hungry and unsatisfied with imitation and shallowness, the merely commercially viable, it is us.
To close on a theme, perhaps our Caesar is that societal voice addressed to those who would participate in the culture, that suggests: you are a consumer, only.
We have come not to praise Caesar, but to bury him.
Please steal this article and post anywhere you like, just provide attribution and keep it under the same license. Encourage others to do the same.***
footnotes:
*http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/
**See the Tim O’Reilly article here http://openp2p.com/lpt/a/3015
***Use the above link for the general license, attribution: Brandon H. Bell, editor, Fantastique Unfettered, http://www.fantastique-unfettered.com