Why I Can't Sleep/Sleep Too Much

Sep. 26th, 2017 01:28 pm
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[personal profile] handful_ofdust
Yesterday was Cal's thirteenth birthday, giving me once again an opportunity to reckon just how amazingly he's grown since...well, since he was born, obviously, but also since last year, and the year before that, etcetera. He's officially a teenager today. I bought him his first batch of student's tickets, made him stick one in the till as we went through the turnstile at Coxwell subway station. At Sherbourne, he suddenly turned to me and, quite seriously, said: "Mom, this is our stop." I'd intended to go to Yonge/Bloor and ride the subway all the way around to King, but I asked him: "Do you want to get off at Sherbourne?" "Yes." "You want to ride the Sherbourne bus down to our building?" "Yes." "Okay." So that's what we did, and when I told him to show the bus driver his transfer, he did. And then we went back to Sherbourne and I fell asleep on the couch, utterly gutted by a post-adrenaline surge exhaustion that later gave me a massive sick headache. I feel like I haven't quite recovered even today.

Because the other thing about yesterday, of course, is that it began with an 8:30 AM pre-op checkup appointment at Toronto East General Hospital, where Cal and a bunch of other kids got a little lecture about what to expect when they got their tonsils and adenoids out. I and the other parents were given a small tour of the pediatric ward, told things like "the parent who goes in with him gets to stay through recovery, no one else"--because he actually does have to stay overnight, ha ha ha, which means so do I--and "this is a fasting ward, you won't be able to eat until they go in, so have a big breakfast before you get here." Then we saw the anesthesiologist, who was so kind and pleasant I started to cry at one point, without even vaguely knowing why. I've signed off on them sedating him before giving him the gas, because he sometimes fights it at the dentist. And then there's two weeks of after-care, pain and weirdness and the constant threat of infection, bleeding, whatever. That terrible sense that something has changed, permanently.

I don't want him to feel like we've tricked him or betrayed him, but he probably will. I can't see how he wouldn't. I'd give my right arm to be with him through the procedure, even though the idea of seeing them cut into him is...awful, horrifying. He's literally never been in hospital before, aside from that time they put him to sleep to remove four rotted baby teeth and a recent-ish trip to Emergency Mom had, which he got caught up in because I had committed to walking up with her and Steve wasn't yet home to take him away. They have a lot of toys there, at least.

I know it's the best idea, that is really does have to be done; shit, I fought for this, after all. But yesterday, when he literally exploded into song after we left, then did it again after our birthday dinner with Mom, I couldn't help thinking that we don't even know if he'll be able to sing anymore after this surgery. Or if his voice will suddenly change in some wrenching way--drop, maybe. He sounded beautiful last night. He sang "Beauty and the Beast" all the way through, maybe because he knows Mom likes it, even though Mom was already far behind him. He let me sing along with him, even though I don't have perfect pitch, like he does.

I don't want him to hate me, even for a moment. I love him. I need him to love me. To keep ON loving me.

So there we have it: why I can't sleep, why I sleep too much, why I'm finding it hard to write, why why why. Because my heart permanently lives outside of my body, forever stuck inside a piece of myself that they cut out of me thirteen years ago. Because I am a Mom, along with everything else, and goddamnit, it did change me. It made me better, and worse, and different. He made--and makes--me who I am.

Happy birthday, Callum Jacob Barringer.
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Posted by John Scalzi

My Big Idea schedule says I was supposed to run the Big Idea for Fran Wilde’s Horizon today, but I already ran it last week. Which means that I screwed up, because today is the release day. So: If you missed the Big Idea when I posted it early, here it is today. Also, congrats to Fran for the release of her third book!

Also, a small public service message: Hey, if you ever want to just see Big Idea posts, there’s a way to do that: Use the BigIdeaAuthors.com URL. It works! Try it!

Also, also: I’m sending out my final batch of October Big Idea slots today. If you sent me a request for October and have not yet heard from me, check your email accounts. If you haven’t heard from me by the end of the day, I’m all slotted out.

I’m Gonna Wrecks It

Sep. 26th, 2017 12:00 pm
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Posted by dogkeeper

I’m Gonna Wrecks It

I’m Wrecks. I got diarrhea from eating bird suet. I pooped a big puddle on the futon in the basement and Mom sat in it. HA HA HA HA HA.

I thought the smell in the basement was coming from the cat box so I sat on the futon to scoop it out. I realized my bottom was wet and cold and stood up to see what the problem was.

Depressing Tuesday

Sep. 26th, 2017 11:21 am
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Posted by Josh

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Rex Morgan, M.D., 9/26/17

Oh, I forgot to mention the other day that we got a look at what our other beloved Rex Morgan, M.D. characters are up to, and what Heather is up to is being pregnant in England with the child of her now-fully-demented husband who no longer recognizes her, with the method she used to to achieve this state left tastefully unmentioned but presumably being along the lines discussed here. This means that family manservant Jordan’s job went from the extremely tricky (trying to help care for an increasingly infirm old man and offer emotional support to his bereft younger wife) to the comically easy (living in the Averys’ vast American mansion and, like, making sure it doesn’t burn down or anything). Apparently the price he has to pay is that whenever he brings a lady over, he has to kill any sexual tension by reminding her of her own mortality. He doesn’t make the rules!

Beetle Bailey, 9/26/17

Speaking of dementia, in Germany one nursing home figured out how to keep Alzheimer’s patients from escaping: setting up a fake bus stop just outside. The patients might be seized with the idea that it was very important that they go home, and rather than forcibly stopping them from leaving, staff would just allow them to go sit on a bench waiting for bus that will never come; eventually they forget why they’re there and can be convinced to come back inside more easily. I’ve always been fascinated by this technique, and it really came to mind today when I read Beetle Bailey, in which a soldier at a military base that has never quite seemed to have any of the details correct stands smiling at an obviously toy BUS STOP sign with two pork chops in his pockets.

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 9/26/17

Ha ha, it’s funny because the pets in Hootin’ Holler are covered in vermin, just like the people!

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The Emerald City and Me

Sep. 25th, 2017 07:34 pm
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[personal profile] cheriepriest
Well, we made it. We closed on our Seattle house literally the evening before we left the Chattanooga house - and it only happened then because a dedicated notary came out to our house after hours and helped us file all the paperwork. First thing the next morning, we hit the road.

It was a six-day drive back to the West Coast. We took two cars, and we each took two animals - I drove with Greyson in the back seat, and Quinnie in the front seat. (Both secured, yes.) My husband brought the eldercat and Lucy in a similar configuration. Using a AAA travel agent, we booked all our hotel rooms in advance - making sure that we could bring our furry family members along without any difficulty. All but two of those nights were screwed up by the aforementioned travel agent; but when all was said and done, nobody had to sleep in the car and everything was fine.

My husband and I each traveled with a small suitcase. For the animals, we packed the largest suitcase we own - and at first we could barely close it, for it contained pre-measured meals for all four of them, plus bowls, medicine (for all four), fluids kit (for the eldercat), cannibis oil treats for the canine nervous nellies, flea/tick preventatives, and five disposable litter boxes stacked together. And I guess now I know how to manage a good "bug-out bag" for the whole family, so there's that.

Eventually we arrived at a house I've named "Rockford Place" - a late mid-century modern with an angular seventies vibe and a massive fireplace surrounded by natural stone. There's also an enormous backyard that's mostly rocks and trees, terraformed into paths and a nice landing area.

Besides, I like James Garner. So yeah, it's called Rockford Place.

The house is really rather neat - lots of cool angles and funky architectural features (without going overboard, I mean.) But the bathrooms are an embarrassment, and when we got here, the kitchen was stocked with appliances that only halfway worked. We've decided to live with the bathrooms for now, but the kitchen...well. We scraped up the money to replace the appliances, which turned into a massive shit-show courtesy of HomeDepot.com... but that's another story. Frankly, I'm so fed up with the experience that I'm not likely to relate it here. Suffice it to say, don't buy appliances from HomeDepot.com. Home Depot's own employees (at a local store) told me the in-house joke is that online orders are "job security" because one way or another, they're fucked up literally 100% of the time.

Anyway, we do have working appliances now. Thank God.

We also have a new veterinarian, which is good because the eldercat ran out of fluids, Lucy came down with (what seemed like) a UTI, and Quinnie has had a couple bad bouts of diarrhea - one bad enough that I took her to the kitty ER. Still not sure what's wrong with her, but she's wrapping up another round of medication at present, and she seems to be 100% fine and dandy. Cats, man.

All four of the critters really seem to like the new house. The cats love the stairs, and the dogs love the yard - which is fenced all the way around to the front patio, so they can really get a good loop of "chase" going on. Both dog-fatties have even lost a little weight, which is good.

As a side note: If you're mostly following me (on any platform) because of the household animal population - or if you'd like to, going forward - you can catch me on Twitter or (more recently) Instagram. Twitter is sometimes LadyRage, but often pet pictures. Instagram is almost exclusively pet pictures. In case this matters.

Hm. What else?

I guess you might also be reading this because I write books. By way of What's Up Next, I can offer the following:
  • In December, a new installment in the Wild Cards franchise hits the streets - including a story from yours truly. The book is called Mississippi Roll, and my contribution is a somewhat wacky romp called "Death on the Water" that features my (now retired) Fort Freak cop Leo and his new wife, Wanda, on board a haunted riverboat. They share the stage with a trio of ghost hunters who, um, are entirely fictitious and not all mocking re: any given TV show that my husband and I might jokingly call "Brost hunters." Ahem.

  • Speaking of Wild Cards - I've just handed in a draft of my next piece, but I can't tell you about that yet. If all goes according to plan, it will be inserted into one of the old volumes, as part of a future re-release. But that's another year or two down the pike, I assume.

  • Production is finally getting underway on my next young adult project for Scholastic - a book called The Agony House. We don't have a pub date yet; things have been delayed on this one, largely because my original editor left the house for another job (which happens, such is life). But my new editor is on the case, and I should have more information on that for you before terribly long. The Agony House is not related to I Am Princess X, but it *does* feature a comic/illustrated element in a similar fashion. More details to come!

And that's all the writing news that's fit to type, for the moment. To be honest, writing updates are probably going to be few and far between for a bit, as I'm taking a little breathing room this year - breathing room that will give me time to get some work done on the house, and take on a day job, perhaps. I could use a steadier paycheck for a bit, and some room for my brain to cool off a bit.

I've been in fifth gear for the last few years, and I'm looking forward to just...doing production work on the Wild Cards projects, and The Agony House, and another adult horror project from Tor called The Toll (pub date TBD). So it's not like I'm quitting the industry and flouncing into darkness or anything. I'm just giving myself a break. Kind of.

More news as it develops.

Okay folks, that's all I can think of, at the moment - but I *will* try to update more regularly over here, now that we're more or less settled in. (We've been here about two months.) So as always, thanks for reading, and thanks for visiting this page. One way or another, I'll see you around...
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Posted by John Scalzi

There was thread over at Metafilter this week talking about book sales and author earnings, including a link to a study that purported to chart author earnings, based on sales at Amazon.  I have to admit I had a bit of a giggle over it. Not because it was attempting to guess author incomes, which is fine, but because the methodology for estimating those earnings came almost entirely from trying to estimate sales of the authors’ books on Amazon, and extrapolating income from there.

Here’s the thing: For non-self-published authors, the correlation between annual book sales and annual “earnings” as a writer can be fairly low. As in, sometimes there is no correlation at all.

Confusing? Think how we feel!

But let me explain.

So, I’m a writer who works primarily with a “Big Five” publisher (Tor Books, which is part of Macmillan). For each of my books, I’m given an advance, which in my case is paid in four separate installments — when I sign the contract, when I turn in the manuscript and it’s accepted, when the book is published in hardcover and when the book is published in paperback. This is fairly typical for most writers working with a “traditional” publisher.

Once the advance is disbursed, my publisher owes me nothing until and unless my book “earns out” — which is to say, the amount I nominally earn for the sale of each unit (usually between 10% and 15% of each hardcover, and 25% of the net for eBook) exceeds cumulatively the amount I was offered for the advance. Once that happens, my publisher owes me for each book sold, and that amount is then usually disbursed semiannually…

usually. There could be other complicating factors, such as if the royalties of the books are “basketed” (meaning the contract was for two or more books, and the royalties are not disbursed until the advance amount for every book in the “basket” is earned out), or if some percentage of the royalties are held back as a “reserve against returns” (meaning that some books listed as sold/distributed are actually returned, so the publisher holds back royalties for a payment period to compensate).

Bear in mind that most publishers try to offer as an advance a sum of money they think the book will earn, either over the first year in hardcover, or across the entire sales run of the work. Which means that if the publisher has guessed correctly, it will never have to shell out royalties. Sometimes they guess poorly, which means either they paid too much for an advance or not enough; in the latter case, that’s when the royalty checks come (please note that even if a publisher pays “too much” and the advance isn’t earned out, it doesn’t mean the book wasn’t profitable for the publisher — their bottom line is not necessarily heavily correlated to the author’s advance — nor does the author have to pay it back).

So what does this all mean? Well, it means that for a non-self-pubbed author, often none of their annual earnings from a book are directly related to how many of those books sell in a year (or any other specified time frame). In fact, depending on how the advance is paid out, three-quarters or more (even all!) of the author’s earnings from a book are disbursed before the book has sold a single unit.

Like so:

Book is contracted: 40% of the advance (“signing installment”) goes to the author. Books sold to date: 0.

Book is turned in and accepted: 20% of the advance (“delivery and acceptance installment”) goes to the author. Books sold to date: 0

Book is published in hardcover: 20% of the advance (“hardcover installment”) goes to the author. Books sold to date: 0 (there may be pre-orders, but the sales don’t usually start being counted until this time).

Book is published in paperback: Final 20% of the advance goes to author. Books sold to date: Hopefully some! But even if the number is zero, the final installment gets paid out (if so few books are sold that the publisher foregoes the paperback release, there’s still usually the contractual obligation to pay out).

Note these advances can be paid out over more than one year — I once got a final installment for an advance roughly six years after I got the first installment (it was a complicated situation). Likewise, once the book starts selling, it can be years — if at all — before the author starts earning royalties, and even then, thanks to the reserve against returns, what the author gets in those semi-annual royalty checks is not 1:1 with sales for the period the check covers (note: this sometimes works to the benefit of the author). Also note: Those semi-annual checks? Often cover a period of time located in the previous fiscal or calendar year.

All of which is to say: For a “traditionally published” author, at almost no point do what an author’s yearly earnings for a book directly correspond to how the book is selling in that particular year.

(Is this bad? No, but it needs paying attention to. Authors tend to love advances because they’re not directly tied to sales — it’s money up front that doesn’t have to be immediately recouped and can help tide the author over during the writing and the wait for publication. But it also means, again, that it can be years — if at all — before money from royalties comes your way. Authors need to be aware of that.)

To move the discussion to me directly for a moment, if someone tried to guess my annual earnings based on my yearly unit sales on Amazon (or via Bookscan, or anywhere else for that matter), they would be likely be, well, wildly wrong. At any moment I have several books at various stages of advance disbursement — some contracted, some completed but not published, some published in hardcover and some published in paperback — a few all paid out in advances but not earned out, and several earned out and paying royalties.

Add to that audio sales (another set of advances and royalties) and foreign sales (yet another) and ancillary income like film/tv options (which are not tied to sales at all, but sales help get things optioned) and so on. Also note that not all my sales provide royalties at the same rate — a lot will depend on format and how many were previously sold (if they are in print or physical audio), unit price (if they are eBook or audio files), and on other various bits that are in contracts but not necessarily disclosed to the wide world. Oh, and don’t forget my short fiction and non-fiction!

Basically, my yearly earnings as an author are a delightful mess. I’m glad I have an accountant and an agent and a very smart life partner to help me stay on top of them. These earnings have almost nothing to do with unit sales in any calendar year, and more to the point, never have, even when I was a newbie book writer with a single book contract to my name. I signed my first book contract in 1999; since then I have yet to have a year when my earnings from being an author approach anything like a 1:1 parity with my book sales in that same year.

Does this matter? Well, it matters if you are, for example, trying to extrapolate what “traditionally published authors” make based on their annual sales, and are then comparing those “earnings” to the earnings of self-published authors. It’s ignoring that these are entirely different distribution systems which have implications for annual earnings. I don’t think one is particularly better than the other, but a direct comparison will give you poor results. Note also that’s true going the other way — applying “traditional publishing” income models to self-published authors will very likely tell you incorrect things about how they’re doing economically in any one year.

(And as a further note: Do likewise be aware of the caveats for anyone trying to extrapolate self-pub/indie annual author earnings from Amazon as well. It misses direct sales, which for authors who ply the convention circuits can be significant, and also may not fully incorporate how Amazon deals with payments in its subscription models, which are handled rather differently than actual sales, and which (unless it’s changed very recently) come from a pre-determined pot of payment rather than a straight percentage of sales. Hey, it’s complicated! Almost as complicated as the “traditional” model.)

Here’s one thing I suspect is true: It’s possible to make money (sometimes a lot of it) as a traditionally published author, or as an self-published/indie author — or as both, either in turn or simultaneously, since, as it happens, there’s no deep ideological chasm between the two, and generally speaking an author can do one or the other depending on their project needs, or their own (likewise, it’s possible to make almost no money either way, too. Alas). It’s not an either-or proposition.

But yes: Here is a grain of salt. Please apply it to anyone who tells you they know how much any author (traditional or self-pub/indie, but especially traditional) is earning in any year, based on Amazon sales, even if they’re  limiting it to Amazon sales. They’re just guessing, and you have no idea how far off their guesses are. And neither, I strongly suspect, do they. Only the actual authors know, and most of the time, they’re not telling.

the hilarious world of depression

Sep. 25th, 2017 05:05 pm
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Posted by Wil

I spoke with John Moe about my mental illness for his podcast, The Hilarious World of Depression:

Wil Wheaton was a child star in Stand By Me, a regular on Star Trek: The Next Generation as a teenager, and has been trying to figure out his role in show business for a long time since then. He was dealing with the pressures of fame and the fickle tastes of Hollywood, all while dealing with a chemical imbalance in his brain that made him prone to anxiety and depression. Wil’s better now thanks to medication, but despite his long IMDb page and regular work on The Big Bang Theory, his hit YouTube show, and a thriving and varied career, he sees himself primarily as a failed actor.

It’s a good show, as they say. Go give it a listen.

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In a perfect relationship between economists, every time their preferences are slightly violated they make a microtransaction with their partners.

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Free Excerpt from The Glass Town Game

Sep. 25th, 2017 09:03 am
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[personal profile] catvalente

If you’re in or around Seattle tomorrow, Cat would love to say hello! She’s doing a reading of The Glass Town Game on 9/26 at Secret Garden Books: the event begins at 7 PM, and the store closes at 8 PM. Bring your books, bring your kids, and bring your smiles!

Haven’t gotten The Glass Town Game yet? You’re missing out on the Brontës and their secret world! To tempt you, here’s an exclusive excerpt from the book over at YA Interrogbang. Enjoy!

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

Love and revolution

Sep. 25th, 2017 11:28 am
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Posted by Josh

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Mary Worth, 9/25/17

Hi everybody, I’m back! Huge thanks to all who contributed to the fundraiser, and huge thanks to Uncle Lumpy for being a hilarious guest blogger as always! (I’m still giggling at “But his contract done restricted his wanderings to the premium content offerings from the Tribune Content Agency, LLC.”)

I’m glad to be back, though, and not least because I got here just in time for Dawn to hit her emotional nadir. We all know that Dawn’s true purpose in the great tapestry of life in Mary Worth’s universe is to be as demonstrably miserable as possible. Whether she’s mope-masturbating to Game of Thrones, or staring forlornly at one of the Renaissance’s most famous dicks while thinking about her ex-boyfriend, or, as in this case, stumbling disheveled out of her apartment after what I assume is a 24-hour long mismatched-sweatsuit-clad crying jag to grab a fistful of carrot muffins and then retreat to the nest of blankets she’s made for herself in the middle of the bathroom floor, Dawn is at her best when she’s at her most pathetic.

Crankshaft, 9/25/17

Oh, man, looks like Crankshaft is in for a tough decision that he’s going to have weigh against his moral code: what will allow him to be more of a dick to more people, siding with labor or management?

Pluggers, 9/25/17

Pluggers know that the opiate of today’s masses flows through electrical wires and broadband pipes, and they’re doing their part to help keep the spigot at full blast!

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Ow. My heart.

Sep. 24th, 2017 06:50 pm
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Posted by thebloggess

Today is Hailey’s birthday.  She’s now officially a teenager, which seems wrong because this was her yesterday: Or maybe it was seven years ago. Feels like yesterday. Except yesterday she was still a pre-teen and two days ago I tucked … Continue reading
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Well, I guess there are plenty more comatose fish in the sea.

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Sunday conundrums

Sep. 24th, 2017 08:46 am
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Posted by Uncle Lumpy

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Six Chix, 9/24/17

This comic is like one of those ambiguous Gestalt pictures from Psych 101 — how you interpret it depends on where you focus.

Concentrate on the pavement crack that disappears in the lower panels, and the horrifying Cyclops-girl somehow “poings” all the concrete back into place, trapping the pavement worker’s jackhammer, and he struggles to release it. But focus on the resemblance between the jackhammer and the pogo stick, and the worker suddenly realizes that tedious work with a noisy tool has replaced carefree play with a favorite toy, and he cries for his lost childhood.

Funky Winkerbean, 9/24/17

Funky prepares a Thermos® of coffee to take on his run but leaves it at home. Now Runner’s World seems to favor drinking coffee before a run, but I’ve never heard of anybody drinking it during one. And out of a Thermos®? He’s not wearing a backpack; how did he plan to carry it? How would he drink out of it, anyway — wouldn’t he have to stop, pull it out, and open it to fill his cup? And wouldn’t most of it spill out once he started running again? Maybe that’s the plan, to bring coffee along so he has an excuse to stop every once in a while? He might need to stop a lot, since he has prostate problems and probably needs to pee pretty often. Maybe all that’s wrong and he drank his coffee at home before his run, but out of a Thermos® instead of a mug? But why would anybody do that when there’s a set of drinking glasses right there? Wait, why is there a set of drinking glasses next to the coffee maker?

Why are the throwaway panels on the bottom this week?

Lockhorns, (panel) 9/24/17

I would’ve gone with A Rake’s Progress, but OK. What’s the conflict here? Border dispute? Feud between the Binner and Bagger clans? Mulch ado about nothing?

That’s it for me — thank you for a lovely time!

— Uncle Lumpy

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