annathepiper: (Thinking)

My colleagues over in NIWA are having a discussion about trigger warnings on our Facebook group tonight. I’ve added a little bit to that discussion at the level I thought appropriate, and would now like to come over here into my own space to go into a bit more detail about my stance on the idea in general.

I have seen a lot of sturm and drang about what trigger warnings actually are and what purpose they serve. There are a lot of folks out there who have negative opinions about them, but I don’t want to get into that; I already got into that in 2015, and do not need to do so again. The point of this post is to just talk about what I believe trigger warnings to be and what purpose I find them to serve.

There are two ways I can talk about this: as a reader, and as a writer.

As a reader, there are certain things that cause me to actually appreciate a thoughtfully worded trigger warning. For example, anything warning about sexual violence as a plot point. Due to my own history and that of more than one of my loved ones, the vast majority of the time, I’m really not going to want to engage with any story that involves sexual violence.

I would be overstating the matter to claim that such a story would trigger me; it probably wouldn’t, not in the way that I understand that word to be used when people talk about being triggered by things. But at the same time, I want to know before I actually start to engage with a story if there’s going to be rape involved or any other kind of sexual abuse–because if there are other aspects to that story that might counterbalance that and make me want to engage with it anyway, I want to be able to factor that in when I’m making my decision about whether to read or view that story.

Here’s a specific example. While I’m a big Marvel fangirl and have happily watched all the various Marvel movies, both seasons of Daredevil, and some of Luke Cage, I have specifically avoided watching Jessica Jones on the general grounds that I know that story’s about a woman dealing with having been sexually abused. And while I rationally understand that it’s a very powerful story and that in fact David Tennant by all reports does a brilliant job of portraying the bad guy, I also know that I would really not enjoy being a viewer of that story.

Again, it would be overstating the matter to say that it would actively trigger me, and I don’t want to disrespect the term by claiming it would. But I also will not dismiss my own less potent reactions. I know I wouldn’t want to engage with that specific story, so I won’t.

Also, let me emphasize that if I know a story has sexual violence in it beforehand, this doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not going to engage with that story at all. What it does mean is that I’ll probably go to greater lengths to find out whether it has other aspects to it that might counterbalance my distaste for that kind of plot and make me want to take that story in anyway. In the case of Jessica Jones, I read several reviews and recaps of episodes just to see whether the plot sounded like something I could deal with anyway, and to get a sense of what the fandom felt about the material over all.

With a book, I’d do much the same. If I’m looking up a book on Goodreads and I see a mention in the reviews on it that there’s sexual violence in the story, if there are other things about that book I may want to engage with anyway, I’ll take greater care before deciding whether I want to buy it. I might check it out from the library instead. And I’d go over the reviews for it in more detail, just to see what people have to say about it.

In short, a thoughtfully written trigger warning about sexual violence in a story is something I feel would let me make an informed decision about whether I want to deal with a particular story. And the key phrase here is “informed decision”.

I also don’t feel as though a trigger warning about some other thing (e.g., graphic non-sexual violence, e.g. a car crash, or whatever) would annoy me. The presence of a trigger warning on a story in general is not going to make me specifically not want to read it. It’d be a neutral piece of information for me, one that would not be immediately relevant to my own decision about whether to engage with a story. But I am totally fine with it being there for someone else to make that same informed decision.

Now let me talk about this as a writer.

To date, I haven’t written anything that I feel really warrants a trigger warning. As you might guess from the first part of this post, it’s extremely unlikely that I’ll ever write sexual violence into one of my plots. I’m not saying I never will, if a story presented itself that legitimately required it, but the bar for that story to clear would be very, very high. (In fact, as a younger writer, I actually tried working a rape plot into a draft of one of my earliest novels. It… did not work. And that’s a decision I do not feel I would make lightly now that I’m an older and more experienced writer.)

If I were to write something that would warrant it, though, I’d be thinking about how to present a trigger warning in a thoughtful way. I don’t feel like I’d make it hugely complicated or blatant–just a little note at the beginning of a story, to alert potential readers that “hey, this story has potentially sensitive items X, Y, and Z in it”. I also don’t feel like it’d be appropriate to go into too much detail, because spoilers are not a thing I want to throw out willy-nilly, but I could see myself inviting readers who do in fact need to know more to contact me directly.

Because really, at the end of the day, it’s all about that aforementioned informed decision. It might cost me a reader, who might say “well shit, I guess that story isn’t for me”. But on the other hand, it might also gain me a reader, who might say “oh dear, well, this one bit of the story sounds like it’ll be a problem, but I like these other bits so I want to read it anyway, and by the way, Anna, thank you for actually warning me in advance”.

‘Cause really, sticking a trigger warning on a story is going to cost me at most a few sentences worth of effort. Which, if you’re a writer writing a 100,000 word novel, really isn’t that much effort at all.

And if it happens to make a potential reader’s life a little easier, I certainly can’t see the harm in that.

Given the world we live in, I think we need all the little gestures of compassion we can get.

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annathepiper: (Good Book)

Finally, another post in the Bilingual Lord of the Rings Reread series! This post provides my commentary on the French edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, and specifically on Chapter 1.

As I get into the bilingual commentary on these chapters, I’m going to be following a similar format to what I’m doing in the Harry Potter Reread posts. So I’ll be borrowing many of the same headers I’m using on that series!

Read the rest of this entry »

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annathepiper: (Book Geek)

I currently have the following things available for direct purchase from me!

Faerie Blood

I have six total print copies of Faerie Blood left in my main stock.

Additionally, I have one extra copy that has a slightly different coloration on the cover, since it’s one of the earliest copies printed and we were still experimenting with the color tones. So it’s a bit paler than the usual copies. Still looks good though so I include this as available at the same price as the usual copies.

Bone Walker

I have 10 total print copies of Bone Walker available.

Additionally, I have two extra copies that have wildly miscolored covers. These were bad copies that came out during the original print run, and Third Place Press just let me keep them. These are available at a significant discount, since they do look very weird. These copies are otherwise fine, though!

I have another copy that has faded a bit on the spine, since it was sitting on the shelf and got some sun on it. So I consider this a cover problem as well, and will make this available at the same discount.

Lastly, I have two damaged copies of Bone Walker. These ones were originally intended for Kickstarter backers, but came back to me damaged in the post. Their covers were damaged, and since they were backer copies, they are signed made out to those backers. These are also available at a steep discount.

Faerie Blood Ebook Bundle CDs

These are the limited run of CDs I burned with an ebook bundle of Faerie Blood in various formats on them. This disc includes both the Drollerie Press edition of the book as well as the current edition. As a bonus, it also includes the short story “The Blood of the Land”.

I actually sold a copy of these at Orycon, go me! I now have eight of these left, and will not be making new ones with this specific set of files.

All of these items are purchasable via my Square store. Additionally, the print copies are available via the Bandcamp merch pages Dara set up for me, which you can find here.

The next convention I will likely have items available will be Conflikt in January, and after that, Norwescon. But if people buy from me before either of these, I’ll be in a position to do fresh print runs of both books.

Questions? Let me know!

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annathepiper: (Little Help?)

So here I am working on Warder Soul, Book 3 of the Free Court series… but I have a problem, y’all, and my problem is this: my awesome cover artist for Faerie Blood and Bone Walker is no longer available. 🙁

Which means I am in the difficult position of needing a new artist! This is made more complicated by these specific problems:

One, a lot of indie cover artists these days appear to focus on doing photo manipulation art instead of line art. I specifically need someone who does line art, in order to match the style of the previous covers.

Two, in my ideal world, a new artist would have already have a style that’s similar to Kiri’s. Because while two different artists may each be individually awesome, I acknowledge that asking artist B to draw like artist A, if artist B doesn’t already have a similar style, is asking a lot of that artist! So I’d like to make a new artist’s life as easy as possible here, and start from a point of “new artist already has a style pretty close to old artist”, if at all possible.

What will make this at least a little easier is that I do not actually need this new artist to worry about doing the actual cover layout. Dara will take care of that for me, as she did for both Faerie Blood and Bone Walker. I just need someone who can do a piece of art for me that’s reasonably close to Kiri’s style, in dimensions similar to what the Book 1 and Book 2 pieces were, so that Dara can take the Book 3 art and do the same layout to it. I already have a pretty good idea of what I want that art to look like, even; I just need somebody who can actually draw it.

So does anybody out there have recommendations for line artists who have an established history of fulfilling commissions in a reasonably timely fashion? Names, contact data, links to DeviantArt pages, other galleries of previous work, etc., would be most appreciated. Also, if you know anybody who might be appropriate and who is actively seeking commissions, please feel free to point them at this post, or at my own contact data.

I do have plenty of time to get this done, at least, since I’ve only barely begun work on the book and it’ll be a while before I finish it. But I do need to actually settle this now, so that any new artist will in fact have time to work on the piece and chat with me about any necessary changes.

Thanks in advance all!

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annathepiper: (Book Geek)

Picked up on Kobo last month, and it’s taken me this long to actually post about it:

  • In the Labyrinth of Drakes, by Marie Brennan. Book 4 of her Lady Trent series. Which I have indeed already read, and good lord I loved it. (heart)

Picked up in print at Orycon this past weekend:

  • The Venomsword, by Stephen Hagelin. Fantasy. Picked this up because the author was working a table in the dealers’ room two tables down from me and Madison Keller. And he was a friendly young fellow who also is writing books about the fey, which is Relevant to My Interests! Also, I have to admit that I actually rather liked his extremely minimalist cover design, which he said was influenced by his affection for Japanese design sensibilities in book covers.

Pre-ordered on Kobo, so even though this doesn’t actually release till next year I’m counting it as acquired in this year’s tally:

  • River of Teeth, by Sarah Gailey. Alternate history SF, a novella which will be released in 2017. Grabbed this because I’ve been following the author on Twitter ever since her delightful livetweeting of watching the Star Wars movies, and lately I have also seen her reaching out to her readers in constructive ways as we all try to find our way through the bombshell of the election. Also, I totally want to read about her hippopotamus wranglers. More data on this story here.

61 for the year.

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annathepiper: Han Says NO (Han Says NO)

Tomorrow I will write a short con report for Orycon. Tonight, I will simply note that I have updated my FAQ, since I continue to get email spam from random people who say that they are with such-and-such a company and think it would be super-awesome if I posted about some random topic that has absolutely nothing to do with either my books, or the things I have a history of being personally interested in (such as Tolkien, Doctor Who, feminism, and politics).

The updated items are at bottom of my FAQ page, and I will note them here as well:

  • Can I get you to run a sponsored post about topic <fill in the blank> on your site?

    No. This site has two purposes: a) to promote my books, and b) to be the master location for my blogging on topics that are of personal interest to me. The only exceptions I will make for this are for fellow authors who need a signalboost for their works, and even then, I will only do that within the context of Boosting the Signal.

  • Can I talk with you about running advertising about product <fill in the blank> on your site?

    No. I have no intention of running any kinds of ads on for the foreseeable future. If I were to consider doing that, the only sources for ads I would be considering would be for other authors’ books. And even then, only under strictly controlled circumstances, in which I could guarantee that any such ads would not be intrusive on a user’s browsing experience.

  • I’m from commercial site <fill in the blank> and I think it’d be neat if you posted about <random topic that has absolutely nothing to do with my books or my personal interests>! Will you do that post?

    No. If you want to drum up interest in random corners of the Internet on topics pertaining to whatever you’re selling, might I suggest you put up a post on your own blog or social media, and get your readers to interact with you about that topic on your own site? Because reaching out to random authors elsewhere on the net to get them to blog on your topic of choice is useless, especially given that I would have no intention of linking back to you or indicating that this is a sponsored post in any way. See above item re: sponsored posts.

Note that anybody who actually regularly reads me and knows me, none of you are the problem. I’m mostly putting this up for reference because I HAVE started getting spam from people about this kind of thing, and it’s annoying, and I want something I can officially point at when I ask people to stop.

Also, pro tip: I’ll be much more inclined to take your email telling me what a great post I did seriously if you actually bother to point out a specific post.

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annathepiper: (Path of Wisdom)

Namely, I attempted to get over this whole “AUGH PHONES” thing and actually freggin’ call my state Senators and Congresswoman. The goal here was to give them constituent feedback on certain current events, namely:

  1. My strident opposition to Stephen Bannon holding any position whatsoever in the White House; and
  2. My strident opposition to any kind of Muslim registry, since that idea is getting bandied around by Trump’s gathering staff, and I find it particularly reprehensible that the Japanese internment camps are getting cited in some news report as actual legitimate precedent for doing that kind of thing, to wit, no.

There has been a thread going around on Twitter the last several days, which was posted by someone named Emily Ellsworth. She says she has six years’ experience working as a Congressional staffer, and because of this, she wanted the Net to know that making actual phone calls is still the very best way to make your voice heard to your representatives. The number of emails as well as printed letters or faxes that any given member of Congress gets is huge, and so they just have to scan them for keywords and tick off items on topic counters. But if you actually call and interact with a human on the other end, they take more notice of that.

The full thread starts here:

So because of this I made a point of calling the offices of both Washington Senators, as well as my district’s Representative to let my input be known on those two issues. I kept it brief. I introduced myself, identified myself as a Washington state voter and gave them my zip code, and just basically said “I wanted to let the Senator/the Congresswoman know that I feel this way on X and on Y”. And I made a point of thanking the various staffers for their time. They were all quite polite and were happy to take my feedback.

Side notes on this experience:

  1. I had way less trouble reaching Maria Cantwell’s office and Suzan DelBene’s than I did Patty Murray’s. Senator Murray’s office in Seattle never picked up on the line, and the voicemail box was full, so I couldn’t leave a message. Likewise for her office number in Everett. I had to call her Tacoma office to actually reach a staffer. Apparently Senator Murray has been getting a LOT of calls.
  2. Since this came up in discussion on Facebook, I am aware that Congress doesn’t have any actual veto power over Mr. Bannon’s appointment, given the specific position he’s been tapped for. That said, there is still some leverage here that the Dems or sympathetic Republicans can take, e.g., refusal to deal with holding hearings on the positions that Congress does need to give their approval for.
  3. I was a little nervous making these calls, I’ll freely own up to that, but it did help to keep it short. And also in that I’ve had at least some practice doing pitches for novels, which helps one focus in on short sound-bite editions of something you want to talk about.
  4. Senator Murray’s staffer in Tacoma chuckled ruefully when I told him that these were my two main issues I wanted to speak up on for the moment, but that I expected there would be more as we move into the new administration.
  5. As a Great Big Sea fan, I keep wanting to read Senator Murray’s name as “Paddy Murphy” and yeah no. 😉

All in all: not too bad as an exercise in civic awareness. Cell phones, especially smartphones, are powerful little gadgets. I feel like for once I’m actually harnessing the power for mine for something meaningful.

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annathepiper: (Book Geek)

Since I am heading to Orycon in Portland this coming weekend, it’s time for another 99 cent sale for Faerie Blood and Bone Walker!

Sale prices will be in effect starting today, Monday November 14th, through Monday November 28th (which, conveniently, is also Cyber Monday).

As soon as price changes take effect on the various retailers, you should be able to see the sale price on all places these two ebooks are sold. For the duration, I have also set all my titles on Smashwords to be ‘Reader Sets Price’, so if you’re a Smashwords user, yes, this means you have an opportunity to snag both of these novels (as well as my two short stories “The Blood of the Land” and “The Disenchanting of Princess Cerridwen”) for free.

As always, the major locations you can buy these books are featured on their pages on my site. See the Faerie Blood page and the Bone Walker page for the Buy buttons at the top, and also the Preview buttons that will let you read samples if you are unfamiliar with my writing in general, or the Free Court series in particular.

Here also are direct links if you want them:

Faerie Blood:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords | Google Play | Square

Bone Walker:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords | Google Play | Square

Also, if you don’t want to go through any of the vendors where the book is on sale, you may buy the books directly from me via my Paypal account. You can do that on my Paypal.Me link here.

Spread the word!

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annathepiper: (Great Amurkian Novel 2)

This week has, suffice to say, not been good for my word count. But I have attempted to coax at least a bare minimum of words out of my brain every day since the election, on general “because dammit I am not letting this kill my creativity” grounds.

I’ve made it into Chapter Five of the story, though I begin to suspect I may have actually planned it out to be too short. I do have a full outline, and I’m still more or less following that. But if I write everything I’ve planned, the story may come out around 50-55K rather than a full-length novel. I’m not focusing yet on what I want to do about that, because it’ll distract me from actually getting the first draft done. But this will be something I need to review once I have a full draft.

Things I have had to look up in the last few days: doublechecking some pictures of some of the colorful town houses in downtown St. John’s, just to confirm that some of them do in fact have garages; photos of the B&B Dara and I stayed at when we were there in 2012; and a quick doublecheck to make sure that it’s plausible for a male cancer patient to lose his facial hair (because Thomas Hallett, Warder of St. John’s, is undergoing chemo as of the timeframe of this story).

Today, for the first time in days, I have actually managed to make word count. And I can say with no small satisfaction that at least regardless of everything this week has tried to throw at me, today’s writing has let me accomplish fulfilling things.

Christopher has gotten to greet his uncle Thomas and cousin Caitlin in person, and given that his family are in fact Newfoundlanders, he has greeted them properly. Which, as the Newfoundlanders and/or Great Big Sea fans who follow me will know, is of course by saying “What’re you at?”

Also, my first Quebecois character in the Warder universe is now officially on camera. Gabien Desroches–Gabe to Anglophones–is a minor character so far but I’ll be working on establishing him as Caitlin’s beau. He has also uttered a bit of French as part of his dialogue, nothing complicated, just “c’est bon, ça”. The bigger challenge with writing him properly will not be using actual French–it’ll be how to phrase his word choices to be plausible for a French speaker speaking English. I have at least some small experience with this, what with having been around several French-speaking Quebecois musicians off and on over the last couple of years, and listening to and learning how they tend to phrase things.

Tomorrow I have a fiddle lesson. But I should be able to break 20,000 on the book as long as I get writing time in too. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Day 9 word count: 537
Day 10 word count: 523
Day 11 word count: 328
Day 12 word count: 1,704
Nanowrimo total: 12,409
Full book total: 19,190

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annathepiper: (Thinking)

If you’re someone in my social circle, whether offline or online, and I find out you’re a Trump supporter, I’m not going to necessarily automatically disown you. I’m not going to automatically defriend you or block you or stop speaking to you.

What will provoke me to defriend/block you is if you come at me with dismissive, divisive language such as “drinking the DNC Kool-aid” or “libtard” or “social justice warrior”. Or if you refuse to give credence to my personal life experiences, or attack my logic or my rationality. I will give you the courtesy of assuming that your personal political views are born out of your life experiences and the conclusions you have drawn about what is appropriate for you and your life. I will assume that you have a brain and that you know how to use it, and that the possibility exists that two different people with different brains and different life experiences can reach wildly different conclusions. Grant me the same courtesy, or we have nothing to discuss.

I will not come into your Internet space and fight with you about what you believe. My space is mine. Your space is yours. If you invited me over to your house for a meal, I would not attack you for your beliefs in your own living room, and I will also not do so on your blog or your social media accounts.

However, I also reserve the right to stop reading your space. I do not dispute your right to be happy about your guy winning the White House. If you are in fact happy about that, good for you; I’m glad at least somebody is happy about the election results.

But please also realize that there is a huge divide between how happy you may be, and how terrified I, many other queers, and many other persons of minority populations are. Understand that for us, it’s going to be really difficult for us to be able to deal with seeing happiness about the election of an administration that has a very real chance of making our lives meaningfully and measurably worse.

This doesn’t mean I hate you personally. It doesn’t mean I never want to hear from you again. By all means, if you’re somebody in my offline social circle, or if you’re related to me, and you want to share news with me, come talk to me. Post directly to my timeline, or PM me, or email me, or whatever.

But it’s probably best if you avoid talking to me about politics. Because right now, I don’t have the heart to hear it.

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annathepiper: (Viva Las Vegas WTF)

I said on Facebook and I’ll say it here: my feed is likely to become a lot more political in the coming months and through the coming administration. If this is a thing that’s likely to bug you, you are welcome to stop reading my blog and social media accounts. If you like my writing but need to limit the amount of politics in your internet, believe me, I understand.

With that in mind, yep, this is going to be a political post. And it’s going to be a long one.

One of the things I’ve seen in the news this week is a general call for unity in the wake of the election results. Obama’s been saying that, and yeah, that’s fine; he’s the outgoing President and it’s kind of his job to urge the American people to come together.

Another thing I’ve seen is that people are not understanding why queers are freaking out about Trump. I have had multiple iterations now of a conversation that goes something like this:

Me: I’m stressed out and terrified about this election because I’m queer.

Other Person: But I thought Trump was pro-gay. I saw an article about how he was waving a rainbow flag at one of his rallies.

Me: I am way less concerned about Trump personally than I am about his cabinet. His VP is virulently anti-queer. His cabinet members are virulently anti-queer. His party is on record as being opposed to marriage equality, and his VP and other cabinet members are people who think that not only should I not have the right to be married to my wife, my wife and I are abominations against their God, and we should be legislated right back into the closet if not outright put to death. So yes, I am terrified.

What happens next in the conversational flow is one of these three options:

Other Person: …


Other Person: *weakly* Well, try not to worry, I’m sure it’ll be fine!


Other Person: I don’t believe you! Trump is the most pro-gay President the Republicans have ever elected! And also, the Orlando shooter was a Taliban-supporting Muslim!

Now, how does this tie into the call for unity?

Trump put out a pretty speech about how he intends to be a President for “all Americans”. But here’s the thing: some Americans are queer. And when he has been elected by a party who has as a solid tenet of its platform that queers should not be allowed to marry one another, he cannot claim to be pro-gay no matter how many rainbow flags he decides to wave around.

When he said during his campaign that he would not personally oppose rolling back marriage equality (as of back in January 2016), he cannot claim to be pro-gay.

When his supporters have already started lashing out against queers and other minorities, and he says absolutely nothing to stop it or condemn it, he cannot claim to be pro-gay.

When the people he is appointing to his transition team and cabinet are virulently anti-queer, believe queers are an abomination, and believe they have a religious mandate to code into law that discrimination against us is allowable on religious grounds, he cannot claim to be pro-gay.

When all he has to try to prove that he is pro-gay is “I will keep Muslims from getting into the country so they can’t shoot queer people”, that is not enough. I am not scared of Muslim immigrants shooting queers. I’m scared of Americans who are already here shooting queers. I’m scared of my fellow Americans legislating against us. Denying us medical treatment, or the right to be at the sides of our spouses if, gods forbid, we have to go to the hospital. Assaulting us. Killing us. And of there being an uptick in this kind of violence because the party that’s about to be in power condones it.

There is no having unity with this. There is no “agree to disagree” when one side is “I agree that queer people should have the right to marry one another and live their lives in peace” and the other side is “not only do I think gay marriage should be illegal, I think queers are an abomination and should be locked up and/or put to death, and I will be doing everything in my power to pass laws against you.”

This is why queers are terrified about the impending Trump administration.

I am not going to go so far as to claim Trump is not my President, because, well, I’m an American, and he was rightfully elected. Is he the next President of this country? Yes.

Is he going to be a President who actually cares about me and people like me?

That’s the thing, isn’t it?

And right now, I’m not seeing evidence that this is going to happen. I don’t care how many photos there are of him waving rainbow flags. I care about what he actually said during his campaign, and the contradiction between his blithe “ask the gays” remarks on Twitter and how he’s also on record as saying he won’t stand in the way of rolling back marriage equality. And how his transition team is full of people who think my wife and I are abominations.

If he really wants to make me believe that he’ll be a President for all Americans, I need to see him come right out and say, for the record, that he will oppose revoking marriage rights. And then I need to see him put his money where his mouth is. I need to see a distinct lack of executive orders against queers. I need to see him vetoing any attempt of a Republican Congress to roll back marriage equality–and I don’t believe for an instant that a Republican-controlled Congress is not going to try to do that, just so’s we’re clear on that, too.

I need to see Trump specifically and explicitly condemning the violence his supporters have started slinging against queers and other minorities. He needs to make it clear to the country, now that he is the one who’ll be taking office, that such acts are unacceptable in a civilized society–that they are unacceptable in America.

(And yes, I am aware that there have been acts of violence against Trump supporters in the news this past week, too. For the record, yes, I do in fact condemn that too. I will say that loud and clear right here, and I’ll say it again any time you like. As I am not in fact an idiot, I do not claim that all progressives are blameless paragons of virtue. Please do not try to come at me with any arguments of that nature.)

If you’re a Trump supporter and you’re not happy that progressives are expressing our terror about this, if you’re wondering why we’re not trying for that unity, this is why.

If you’re a Trump supporter and you actually personally care about the rights of queers, people of color, the disabled, immigrants, etc., then listen to us when we tell you we are terrified. Do not dismiss our fears as “drinking the DNC Kool-aid” when we’re coming at this from our own life experiences, and in many cases, all too much discrimination actively thrown directly into our faces. Do not tell us to “wake up” when we’ve been spending our entire lives fighting that discrimination.

Go read John Scalzi’s post on The Cinemax Theory of Racism. I co-sign every word of that post. Although he chose to focus on the racism aspects of the Trump campaign, everything he says in that post is equally applicable to sexism and homophobia. If you’re a Trump supporter, even if you are not personally racist, sexist, or homophobic, you signed up for this as part of the package when you voted for him. You need to own that.

And if you really care about that unity being called for, then get on board with helping make sure that your candidate, now that he’s got the White House, will not be wrecking the lives and the rights of the people who are not you. Listen to us and believe us when we express our fears to you.

Say to us, “We hear you, and because you are fellow citizens, we’ve got your backs, and here is what we’ll do to show you.”

Then and only then will I believe that unity can happen.

Editing to add: Jim Hines has an important post along these lines up over here, with some links off to incidents of harassment this past week, specifically ones for which there is supporting evidence (photos, videos).

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annathepiper: (Book Geek)

Given the political events of this week, I find myself moved to pull Boosting the Signal back out of hiatus. So, effective immediately, I am now open for submissions as outlined on the Boosting the Signal page.

I will continue to accept submissions from channels I have had open before: Carina Press authors, NIWA, the Here Be Magic crowd, authors I personally know, etc.

But moving forward, I am especially interested in submissions for progressive fiction of any stripe. If you’re a QUILTBAG author and you have some work to share, I want to hear from you.

As always, Boosting the Signal is a promotional column, not a review column. It is an opportunity for authors to get creative with putting out some hooks to interest potential readers. As such, you are not obligated to send me a copy of your work, but I will certainly not turn down free ebooks if they are offered. (I encourage you to keep print copies for reviewers, though!)

Any questions, talk to me.

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annathepiper: (Path of Wisdom)
Where Do We Go From Here?

Where Do We Go From Here?

Those of you who are fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and in particular of the sixth season musical episode “Once More With Feeling”, are very likely finding yourselves songvirused by the same song that’s been in my head since the events of Tuesday night: “Where Do We Go From Here?”

For me, that’s certainly been the ongoing theme of what I’ve seen coming over my social media feeds. As I wrote in my last post, I’m seeing a lot of despair from people–especially from people who are relaying word of a sickening rise in overt, violent bigotry, as documented on People are already being attacked. People are already dying, and others, as reported by USA Today, are being trolled by white supremacists who are getting their jollies on by trying to provoke them into suicide.

I have seen some hope that the electoral college vote might pull us out of this, if enough of the electors bailed on handing Trump his electoral votes. It’s a nice thought. It’s even worth a shot. But I am not counting on this happening, if nothing else because we do not actually live in that kind of feel-good-surprise-ending fictional storyline. If you want to hope for that, absolutely, take whatever hope you can right now. But plan for it not to happen. It’s the only way to be rational and practical about how the hell to get through the next few years.

So where do we go from here?

Dara’s got a post up over here, and in that post she’s outlining exactly why Trump’s transition team and inner circle put the immediate lie to the idea that he will be a “President for All Americans”–because his inner circle people are on documented record as being virulently anti-queer. They are people who think that Dara and I are an abomination. They not only want our marriage illegal, they want us illegal, too.

So right there, there’s a thing you can do. If you’re not already, start supporting charities whose mission is to provide outreach and safe haven for queers–especially young people, especially queers of color, especially transgendered persons who are going to be scrambling to get official documentation of their genders before 2017 gets here. With an incoming actively queer-hostile administration, queers will need you.

Look also for charities that provide support and outreach to populations of color. Find out how you can support Black Lives Matter or similar groups. Look for organizations that will provide legal assistance to any Muslims who have been targeted just for being brown or for wearing a hijab in public. Look for organizations providing support to immigrants and refugees. These populations of color will need you.

Look for charities that provide support to the disabled, who are at huge risk from the imminent gutting of the Affordable Care Act. Remember also that some disabilities are not obvious, and that anyone fighting mental illness or depression will also be medically vulnerable. These people will need you. Even with the Affordable Care Act, we live in a country where it’s somehow acceptable for Americans to have to friggin’ crowdfund their own medical care, and pray that the Internet will save them from having to choose between health and having a roof over their heads and food on their tables. Expect that to keep happening. If you have an opportunity to support a friend or a loved one who will need your help with medical expenses, do it. They will need you.

Support Planned Parenthood and other organizations that fight for women’s reproductive freedom.

Support the ACLU. Because holy Jesus jumping Christ on a pogo stick, we will need them looking out for our civil liberties. They have already posted their open letter to Trump, announcing their coming vigilance. Help them.

If you are religious but also progressive, especially if you are Christian, then get your church to step up to the plate and be public in support of these marginalized populations. And have them be public in their decrying of bigotry and religious hatred. Because right now, the alt-right fundies are about to own both the White House and Congress. If they don’t speak for you and your brand of Christianity, now is the time to demonstrate that.

Support organizations that encourage actual science. Because Trump’s looking at appointing a Creationist to be Secretary of Education, and that right there is enough to make me very concerned for the state of American schools.

Support organizations that are working to counter the effects of climate change. Because Trump’s administration is also likely to be hostile to climate change, and at least from where the NY Times is sitting, the EPA sure looks like it’s going to be in trouble. Pro tip: all those aforementioned marginalized populations are going to be in even more trouble once climate change starts making us a lot more miserable. Second pro tip: putting your hands over your ears and going LALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU is not going to make climate change not happen.

Relatedly: if you’re not already doing so, start looking for ways you can live in a more environmentally-friendly way on the local and personal level, if the national level is going to fail us on this. It may not seem like much, but every tiny little bit you can do will help. Consult your local power companies to see what advice they have about more eco-friendly power consumption. And for all the bitching I’ve done about Puget Sound Energy, they do at least have a Green Power program. If you’re a PSE subscriber, info on this program is here. If you’re on Seattle City Light, go to their home page and look for the “Renewable Energy” header towards the bottom. They have data there.

Dara’s post that I linked to above links off in turn to this document on Google Docs, with some ongoing concrete suggestions for planning. Check that out too.

Most of all: look out for yourselves and each other. If you are in a marginalized population, do whatever is necessary to protect yourself. Your safety and your well-being are also important. You cannot help others without making sure you’re strong enough to do so first.

If you are a creative artist of any kind–writer, painter, photographer, singer, songwriter, podcaster, anything–try to hold fast to your art. We will need your art. If you are motivated to work your worry and frustration and fear into your art, do that. If you feel all you can do is colored pencil sketches of cute little puppies and kittens and bunnies, do that. Somebody out there is going to see your picture of a cute little bunny, and have their heart’s burdened eased just a bit. That is what art is for.

And at the same time, fellow creatives–remember as well that if you can’t produce your art, that is okay too. Sometimes extreme stress will short out your muse. Remember your self-care too. Do whatever you need to to maintain yourself. If that means you have to take a break from your art, do that and come back when you’re ready.

Hang in there, everyone. Love one another. Look out for one another. We’re all going to need it.

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annathepiper: (Hard Day)

I am taking a mental health day today, and am giving myself minimal exposure to the Internet. I’m avoiding reading my usual social media feeds, as well as most of my usual RSS feeds as well. I don’t have enough stock of Cope to be able to deal with people right now, nor can I really comfort myself with the usual pop culture or book things I like to read about.

What I have done, though, is glance at some of the LJs and Dreamwidth accounts from people in my extended circle–QUILTBAG folks as well as allies. This is the theme I’m seeing: we’re fucking terrified, and also trying to keep it together enough to have one another’s backs. Because moving forward, into the next four years, we’re going to have to have each other’s backs even more so than we have been up till now.

I know people all over the QUILTBAG spectrum, and I know multiple people as well who are raising non-binary-gendered children. One fellow author I know was despairing about how to explain the fallout of last night to her offspring, and how to give said offspring strength to be able to face school.

I know multiple people as well who are now also terrified about the imminent evaporation of their healthcare. Because now that we’re looking at a Republican President, a Republican House, and a Republican Senate, as we move into 2017, you better believe we’ll be looking at the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Because apparently if a Democratic President put it into play, tearing it down is more important than making sure Americans who need reliable healthcare actually get it.

If you happen to be against the ACA and think it should be repealed, do us both a favor and do not try to debate with me about it. Because until I actually hear the new administration coming up with something better, I will not believe that they have any fucks whatsoever to give about Americans getting reliable, affordable healthcare. Before the ACA showed up we did not have a system that gave us this. We still don’t, even with what small gains the ACA has given us–yes, I know, the ACA has its problems, but it at least has tried to get health insurance to Americans who haven’t had it before.

And you know what else I know? I know that there are way, way too many people who have had to turn to crowdfunding to try to raise money for their medical expenses. I see GoFundMes crop up all the damn time for people who are desperate to pay for surgeries, for dental care, for treatment after accidents, and more.

How is any system of healthcare that drives people to beg the Internet for money to cover their expenses at all fair? How is it just? How is it looking out for the well-being of our citizens?

And you know what else I know? I know that the American health care system is a root cause of why my parents died as young as they did. It’s not the only cause, but it sure is a big one. My mother died in 1985. She was 38 years old. Thirty-eight. And the cancer that struck her just about the time I was born beggared our family.

My father died in 2001. He was 57. Did he ever have health insurance? Fuck no. Hell, for a chunk of when I was growing up, after Dad got custody of me and my younger brother, he couldn’t afford to keep us. He struggled to hang onto jobs and stable places to live all throughout the rest of his life. Where in here would he have ever been able to afford to pay for proper medical care for himself, care which could have realized the damage he was doing to his heart and his lungs, and which might have helped him survive that heart attack?

And you know what else I know? I know that while I have been fortunate enough to have stable, lucrative employment for most of my adult life, that even the reasonably decent health insurance coverage I’ve had has lasted only as long as my jobs have done. One of the reasons I’ve clung to my current day job with every scrap of strength I have in me is because I know what’ll happen if I have to change positions. My insurance coverage will reset and there’s all sorts of risks that my now stupidly complex medical history will get “pre-existing condition” stamped all over it next time I have to change jobs.

And that’s even assuming I change jobs voluntarily. If I get laid off and have to go back to COBRA, it gets harder. How do I know this? I know this because of all the times I’ve had between tech jobs, when I’ve been on contractor positions, and you know what all those tech contracting firms DON’T do when they’re trying to get you that year-long gig at Microsoft or wherever? Give you health benefits. I know this because of everyone else I know in the tech industry, too, who’ve been in the exact same boat.

And you know what else I know? I know that even with a well-paying job and stable health coverage, Dara and I have still had to lay out multiple thousands of dollars per year for the last several years because medical shit just keeps fucking happening. I live in low-level dread that this superpower I have of generating precancerous tissue is going to wake up and bite me again as I get older. I’ve already lost one breast, my thyroid, my uterus, and my ovaries. I’m just waiting for something else to get something growing on it that’ll have to come out–and let me tell you, when I had to have an MRI of my head lately to try to figure out why the hell I have ongoing pulsatile tinnitus in my right ear, I was terrified they’d find a tumor.

Because guess where my mother’s cancer was. Right in her brain.

And you know what else I know? I know that with a new incoming administration who is on record as being hostile to queers, Dara and I are going to be braced going into 2017 just waiting for a repeal of marriage equality. At minimum, we’ll be expecting the return of DOMA or something like it. If that happens, even though we live in a liberal state, this will impact us. It will mean we have to pay taxes at the higher single-payer rate instead of the rate married couples get to use, even if I work for a company that is pro-domestic-partners.

More than that, though, we are terrified about the ramifications for fellow members of the QUILTBAG community all over the red states. There will be a resurgence of transphobic bathroom laws–hell, that shit’s even tried to get a foothold here, and that was even before last night’s election. There will be a resurgence of hate crimes against queers.

We are terrified about what this means for people of color. Every single POC I saw commentary from on Twitter last night was justifiably afraid. All throughout this shitstorm of a year, we’ve continued to see outbursts of hate against immigrants, particularly Muslim and Latinx ones.

Dara and I have already had multiple renewals of offers from Canadian friends to give us emergency crash space if we ever need it. We’re not exactly planning on bolting across the border tomorrow–for one thing, it’s not just a matter of “fuck it we’re noping off to Canada, chuck everything into the Raptor and go”. We’d need jobs. We’d need housing. We’d need to sell both our properties. And we’d need to find out whether my stupidly complicated medical history would be a problem. None of these things lend themselves well to immediate emigration.

But there are reasons Dara and I live as close to the border as we do. And every one of those reasons was in play last night–and will be in active play as we move into the next four years.

We are terrified. Don’t try to tell us everything will be okay and that we’ll be fine–because in our experience, living through the history of how treatment of QUILTBAG persons and POCs and people of minority religions has played out in this country, the likelihood is high that no, everything will not be okay.

All we can do now is try to weather the oncoming storm and hope we do not drown.

QUILTBAG folk, women, POCs, and anyone of minority religions who reads me: hugs. Let’s look out for one another. We are going to need one another more than ever. Vent to me here if you need to.

ETA: Dara’s reaction post is here.

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annathepiper: (Hard Day)

I gave myself proactive amnesty for not getting anything done on Nanowrimo yesterday or the day before. Which, turns out, yeah I needed that. Because I pulled in only 547 words on Monday–I was shooting for my off-Nano word count if I couldn’t hit the full 1,667, and I did at least do that.

Yesterday, though? Not a word. Too distracted by a little political thing going on. Y’all probably were distracted by that too.

I am not convinced I will be able to wrangle any words today either, but given that I am taking today as a mental health retreat day, some words might at least help a bit. At least writing about Kendis and Christopher is a situation I can control.

I am dubious at this point that I will hit the 50,000 mark by the 30th. But I will also give myself the break of reminding myself that the actual important point here is finishing the book, and Nanowrimo is simply a side bonus.

Day 7 word count: 547
Day 8 word count: 0
Nanowrimo total: 9,317
Full book total: 16,098

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annathepiper: (Great Amurkian Novel 2)

Yesterday was particularly productive on the Nanowrimo front, since I didn’t have to go anywhere, and what usual weekend chores had to be done (laundry, bill paying, updating the checkbook) didn’t really interfere with the serious business of getting words out of my brain.

So I put a real big dent in Chapter 4, and finally pulled off what I’ve been looking very, very forward to writing in this plot: having Kendis and Christopher show up in St. John’s. I have also now brought on camera two more characters very important to this plot: Caitlin Hallett, Christopher’s cousin, who is also the daughter of his uncle Thomas who’s the current Warder of St. John’s; and Gabien Desroches, Warder-born from Quebec, where the Warders are called les Gardiens. I’ve already written a little bit about Caitlin in the novella I have on the back burner right now–the novella in which she’ll meet Gabien for the first time–but this story’s really going to be where these two step up to the plate.

Interesting items of research for yesterday’s efforts: a LOT of peering at Google Maps’ Street View pics for a particular area right near Signal Hill, and any Newfoundland-based readers who follow this blog will know what I mean when I say ‘Johnson Geo Centre’. Some peering through the Dictionary of Newfoundland and Labrador, looking for an appropriate word Caitlin could use to affectionally refer to Christopher. And considerable browsing of the Snow Clearing section of the official St. John’s website, trying to get an idea of what exactly it’s like in downtown St. John’s when the place gets hit by snow.

Related to that last, I also had a highly interesting chat with friend and reader userinfolethendy on Facebook. She informs me that on a practical day-to-day basis, there’s considerable distance between city policy on snow clearing and what actually happens. Critical to know. Thanks, Lethendy!

(Also: any other Newfoundland-based friends and readers, I will be putting out a call for Newfoundland-based beta readers once this draft is done. I will need you to reality-check my depiction of the city, as well as dialogue for Caitlin and Thomas. Christopher is less of a priority since he’s already an established character, and he’s been away from home for years, so his speech patterns have become rather more Americanized. But it’s highly likely he’ll jump right back into more Newfoundland-based dialogue for the brief time he’s going to have a chance to do so. WHEE!)

Fifteen thousand words reached in the draft! FORTH EORLINGAS! \0/

Day 6 word count: 1,902
Nanowrimo total: 8,770
Full book total: 15,551

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annathepiper: (Great Amurkian Novel 2)

Day 4 of Nanowrimo ran really short, only 680 words. Which means I’ve now got two days of deficit to make up for. Though again: my real goal here is finishing the book; winning Nano is just cake. Though it’ll still be nice to do that too.

Yesterday I did in fact hit the goal: 1,708 total words! I would have done more, except that Dara and I had to go out for a good chunk of the afternoon and run a bunch of errands. Truly dedicated pursuers of the 50,000 goal might argue BUT BUT BUT WRITING. My counterargument is that Dara really needed new shoes–shoes that wick up water from damp pavement, never mind puddles, are a problem during Seattle’s rainy season–and I’m the one with the REI membership.

Once all the errands and adulting were done, though, I was able to buckle down and get writing. Go me!

I finished Chapter 3, and as of this writing, I’ve also put a serious chunk into Chapter 4. This has gotten me to one of the first big plot points I’m laying down in this book, which was already called out in the outline. What I had not previously anticipated is that I was going to line up Elessir, Kendis, and Christopher right behind Jude for the level of crisis this plot point is going to throw at them.

I’ve already dropped the hint that a big chunk of this book is taking place in St. John’s. But I hadn’t really committed yet to the implications of “St. John’s in February”–which means St. John’s with winter weather. I’d already known this was going to mean likely conditions much colder and snowier than my Seattle-based characters are used to.

But as of last night, with Dara’s encouragement, I went ahead and committed dropping Kendis and Christopher into the middle of a blizzard. Muahahaha. >:D

(Seriously, with all the shit I’m throwing at my principle characters in this book, it’ll be a wonder if they don’t revolt on me and decide to defect to some safer plotline. But then, I’ve always maintained that my job as an author is to make up imaginary people and then make their lives as difficult as possible.)

Research topics of interest through the last couple of days have involved looking up assorted locations on Signal Hill, a couple of different CBC articles about blizzards in St. John’s, and the Wikipedia pages for both ‘blizzard’ and ‘whiteout’. And although this didn’t require looking anything up, I did also recall that my experience with the Worst Commute Ever will actually come in handy for descriptive purposes here.

For giggles and grins, here’s what my Nanowrimo profile’s stats page looked like as of last night!

Nanowrimo Day 5 Stats

Nanowrimo Day 5 Stats

Day 4 word count: 680
Day 5 word count: 1,708
Nanowrimo total: 6,868
Full book total: 13,649

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annathepiper: (Great Amurkian Novel 2)

Here is a list of things important for me to keep in mind when I’m doing a Nanowrimo run:

  1. Despite how it doesn’t get nearly as much press on my blog and on my social media, I do in fact have a full-time day job;
  2. Having a full-time day job does mean that no matter how late I stay up writing, I do in fact still need to get up in the morning;
  3. While I am often mistaken for being younger than I actually am, I am in fact not as young as I used to be, and that manifests more often in my stamina than it does in my outward appearance;
  4. Therefore, if I’m up past midnight for two days running because I’m trying to pull 1,700 words out of my brain, that’s going to make getting up at a quarter to 7 a lot more difficult.

Which is why, on yesterday’s Nano run, I didn’t quite make it to the 1,700 words a day mark I’m shooting for, because that’s a nicer, round number. Nor did I make it to the actual minimum mark I need to hit, which is 1,667, in order to hit that 50K by the end of the month.

But I did still clear 1,100. And given that my writing record this year has not been good, I still choose to count this as a victory. Plus, we’re heading into the first weekend of the month and I should have some time tomorrow to make up that deficit.

I finished the fight scene I was working on in Chapter 3 and started the next scene after–which, as it happens, will be the first non-Kendis-POV scene in the book. The POV in question is Elessir’s. Those of you who have read Bone Walker may recall that I did jump POVs a couple times in that book, keeping Kendis in first person and everybody else who got POV time in third. I will be doing the same thing in this book.

Also, I decided that Seattle has monkey puzzle trees, but Faerie has serpent puzzle trees. And serpent puzzle trees have branches that get very, very cranky at you if you fall through them. Elessir and Jude are now in a position to offer firsthand testimony about this.

Also #2, writing this entire chapter, as well as what I know is coming in the next one, reminds me that when it comes to adding tension to a scene, the maxim for me to live by is apparently “when throwing characters into a difficult situation, think up ways to make it as difficult for them as possible“. Muahaha. I’d apologize to Jude for what I’ve just done to her, but Jude’s tough, she can take it. ;D

Also #3, Kendis is about to be simultaneously relieved and very, very cranky that her decision to leave her phone behind before committing a major act of magic (because having to replace your smartphone every time you manage to fry the damn thing gets expensive) will turn out to have been less useful than she thought. Sorry, Kenna-lass, I’m not apologizing to you either.

Day 3 word count: 1,113
Nanowrimo total: 4,480
Full book total: 11,261

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annathepiper: (Great Amurkian Novel 2)

I’m in the middle of working on Day 3’s words, so while I’m thinking of how to start off this next scene in Chapter 3, here’s a quick report on how yesterday’s writing went!

Notable things I had to look up: where the boundaries of Seattle’s actual city limits are, on the southern side of the city. Where interesting parks are, just south of the Seattle city limits, and how close they are to Elliott Bay. Doublechecking that Elliott Bay is in fact salt water. Pictures of Seahurst Park in Burien. And, what actual examples of woods that match the phrase “dark polished maple” would look like, so that I could visualize and describe a minor character properly.

This burst of effort let me finish off Chapter 2 and start putting a dent in Chapter 3, and write a fight scene! Fun! 😀

Now back into Chapter 3–look for the Day 3 report tomorrow!

Day 2 word count: 1,669
Nanowrimo total: 3,367
Full book total: 10,148

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annathepiper: (Great Amurkian Novel 2)

My Nanowrimo 2016 effort is officially underway–and I gotta say, people, having Scrivener this year, and specifically having used it to plot out the entire outline for Warder Soul, has made it significantly easier to get the words out of my brain and into the draft. All I have to do is more or less follow the outline, with occasional pauses to look things up if I need to, and make comments there and there to note stuff I’ll want to fix when I come back through on edits.

Also, since it’s been a while since I did an official Nano, I checked in on the official site and woke up my account there. Wow, that site’s a lot more organized and detailed these days! So I filled out a lot of things in my profile, including details on past Nanowrimo efforts: the 2003 win, but also the failed attempts in 2005 and 2009 that did at least add words to Lament of the Dove (which of course eventually became Valor of the Healer) and Bone Walker.

You can see my official Nanowrimo profile here. And hey, if you’re participating in the madness, feel free to add me to your buddy list!

As to the actual words, I am now very, very close to finishing Chapter 2. Finally.

Things I looked up as part of last night’s writing effort:

  • Pics of Ravenna Park in downtown Seattle, with an eye to trying to identify how many picnic shelters it has available, and how close such shelters are to nearby streets
  • Model names for electric cars, because here’s a fun trivia fact: Elessir drives one

And here’s a snippet of last night’s words, which I shared to Facebook and Twitter!

There are reasons I don’t own a car, mostly amounting to how I hate driving with the blazing passion of a hundred fiery suns. Especially during rush hour. Especially during the winter. You’d think that with all the rain we get in this town, people would be better at driving on wet roads, but you’d be wrong. We’ve had a massive uptick in population in the last few years, not only computer geeks from all over the world to feed the ever-growing staff needs for our local tech companies, but refugees from Syria and other troubled parts of the world as well. And every winter, all these new drivers get to learn the joys of what our rainy season does to oil-slicked asphalt—not to mention how fast one or two accidents anywhere on our highways can slow down the whole system.

I would rather face demons than drive during a Seattle rush hour. And I’ve faced a demon.

And I realize that it’s traditional to start a Nanowrimo effort with a fresh project, but I am taking the liberty of doing Warder Soul anyway even though I had nearly 7,000 words in it already. I’m pretty sure nobody’s going to actually mind, as long as I do actually throw 50,000 brand new words at the book to count whether or not I win this year. So here are yesterday’s stats!

Starting word count for the book: 6,781
Day 1 word count: 1,698
Nanowrimo total: 1,698
Full book total: 8,479

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annathepiper: (Default)
Anna the Piper

December 2016

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