World Building Part 2 – Building Setting

Much of your world building is going to help you build your settings, the concrete places in which the scenes of your story will take place. Yes, in part, this is the countries and continents you’re building, but more specifically it’s the church buildings, the towns, the castles, the forest camps, and other such sets.

Not only is setting individual, concrete locations, but also the concrete, specific details that we choose to describe these locations. Saying ‘a forest’ is one thing. Saying ‘a dark, dense forest of ancient oaks’ is far more interesting. Use tight, specific, direct language when crafting your setting. This will help create a vivid sense of place, and, if you choose carefully, can help you avoid info dumps.

As writers build fantasy and science fiction settings they borrow from real world climates, cultures, and experiences. This is a normal part of world building. You need to select a societal age and tech level. This will narrow down the architectural choices you have for the style of your buildings and the size and layout of your villages or cities. If you’re writing a Victorian steampunk, for example, your physical setting will be based heavily on Victorian London, or Victorian-era Paris, or Prague or whichever city best suits your story. Onto that base you’ll add your steampunk technology, tweaking the style of clothes and décor and buildings to fit the additions.

If you’re writing a period fantasy set in a blend of Feudal and Late-Middle-Ages with heavy European leanings you’re looking at castles and moats with villages springing up around their walls. You’re looking at placing major cities near waterways, in strategically defensible positions, or near key resources. For architecture, you’ll want to peak at period-appropriate buildings around the world and blend them together. Keep in mind that without magic you’re stuck with building techniques that fit your technology level.

If your setting is Earth, past, present or future, this has some shortcuts, as well as some interesting challenges. If you’re writing historical fiction you’re left to decide which historical facts to include and which to leave out. If you’re writing alternative history, you need to decide what changes, and how that will ripple out through your culture. If you’re writing in the present you need to choose whether you’re setting your story in a real city/town, or creating a fake one that is, in all ways, realistic, just doesn’t actually exist (like Stephen King’s Derry Maine).

Writing a future Earth presents unique challenges and opportunities. You have a setting that is familiar, and yet you must make it different. You look at the current state of environmental affairs and you must project a likely path into the future.

Rising tides? Nuclear war? An earthquake finally turns California into an island? A volcanic eruption? Whatever the case, something happens and the world changes.

Maybe it’s not environmental, maybe the change is political. Maybe the change is in population density, or technology. Is this a dark, grungy, dystopian future, or a bright, shiny, hopeful one?

Keep in mind, with a modern or futuristic city, that your architecture will not have a uniform look. Unless there’s a reason for a building to be torn down (disdain for old things, structural instability, major event that levels entire city streets) your cities will be a blend of old and new buildings. Often you have historic districts as the city will grow in sections, each section modeled on the period it was built in. You will have areas that are industrial and areas that are residential. You’ll have areas that are old stone and areas that are newer.

And this can and should translate over into fantasy and science fiction (alien world) settings as well. So often we see whole-planet cultures of shiny metal and glass buildings and futuristic vehicles. What about the alien that drives the equivalent of a classic car? What about poor districts, or historic districts? What about blended cultures, or distinct cultural areas (like China Town in a larger city)? Writing a single culture across the entire planet is easy, but doesn’t reflect “reality” well. Try expanding your fantasy and science fiction to be more diverse and exciting by building complex settings for your story to take place in.

Like what you’re reading? Stay tuned for more world building fun. Or hop over to Amazon and order your copy of The Ultimate World Building Book for geography, settings, characters, cultures, and more.

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Altered Carbon Review

Just finished watching season 1 of Altered Carbon (currently the only season) at the recommendation of my father. Altered Carbon is a science-fiction mystery with a touch of noir.

I wasn’t sold on the actor for the main character until more than halfway through the show. I think that’s because I really like Kovach’s birth sleeve (okay, a little back story. Everyone has a “stack” a bio-disc that contains their personality and memory. They refer to bodies as sleeves. You can “spin up” a stack in any sleeve, or in VR. The main character, Kovach, spends most of the show in the sleeve of Riker because, well, lots of reasons). The acting was good, and maybe me not liking him is a plus because the character is supposed to be a bit of a hard-ass and the sleeve belonged to a angsty cop.

The supporting cast was amazing. The cop, Christine Ortega, and her entire family of Mexican-Catholics were priceless. Just perfect. I mean, she’s a kick-ass, no-nonsense, woman with strong convictions, a loving family, and a heaped helping of smarts. She’s stubborn and compassionate. She fights with her mother but there’s still a lot of familial love to go around. And, they regularly speak Spanish.

Ortega’s current partner and mentor is an older Jewish man who is implied to have a casual, familiar relationship with Ortega’s widow mother, much to Ortega’s dismay. There’s an AI hotel named Poe (the hotel is called The Raven, go figure) and he stole the whole damn show as far as I’m concerned. Equal parts graciousness and sass, he provides deadpan humour and some much needed emotional support. Elliot, Ava, and their daughter Lizzie have a heartbreaking story arc and play a huge role, not only in the mystery, but in Kovach’s character development.

The rich people are assholes, or whiny snivelling brats, but they never feel flat. They have motives, they have opinions about themselves, they actually come across as complex. And the twist regarding the “bad guy” was well-played, subtle, and full of emotional impact. I felt some of the bad guy’s motivation wasn’t fully explored though.

There is a strong theme of classist exploitation and sexual violence/exploitation in this show. Elliot’s daughter is beaten to the point of sleeve death and her stack is stuck in a trauma loop. Later, Elliot must pose as a rich elite general and is confronted by the sickening sexual perversions the rich indulge in and you can see his rage and pain and his need to safe all these young women from these rich assholes. That scene is worth watching the whole show for. His face, his expressions, his reactions, they’re all so damn visceral, so real, it’s a punch in the gut.

The cast as diverse, the story fast-paced, the mystery twisted and dark. There was a fair dose of politics and religious debate but it never felt tedious or preachy. No one was really right or wrong about stacks and their use/misuse.

I can’t wait to see what they do with season 2.

Love, Death + Robots – A Review

Anyone here remember Animatrix? It was a collection of animated shorts but different artists/artistic teams that all took place in the universe of The Matrix. It was good, as good or better than the series itself.

Love Death + Robots is similar in that it is a series of animated shorts, in differing styles. Unlike Animatrix, there is NO common thread between them, no shared universe, no linking character or setting. It’s just random.

So, I guess it’s more like the old Heavy Metal Magazine, with the random comics.

The shorts range from 5-20 minutes in length. Some are done in 3D CG that is so good you have trouble telling they aren’t real people. Some are done in rotoscope. Some are done in edgy comic book/graffiti styles. Some are straight up 2D Sunday morning cartoons (but not family friendly).

The stories are gritty, but fun, for the most part. They all have something dark to them, something about survival, sacrifice, greed, stupidity … There’s a lot of violence, and a lot of nudity. And yet, it all stays classy somehow.

They’re stuck in my head. I mean, 97% of the shorts I watch end up stuck in my head for DAYS. I mull them over, admiring the concise storytelling, the expertly executed twists, the bland apathy of the robots touring a post-apocalyptic city, the deeper meaning behind the desert hallucinations, the subtle criticisms of colonialism or war, the strength of spirit, the depth of loyalty … And I admire the art, the clever writing, the uniqueness and audacity of the whole thing.

It just steps out and goes “fuck it, we’re doing this” and it’s so refreshing.

I’ve probably got 4 or maybe 6 episodes left, that I can’t watch until Friday night because I have to wait for my husband (we’re watching together and I’m not a ‘watch ahead cheater’). But I’ve been so blown away by the first dozen or so episodes that I can’t wait to review it.

No, I can’t wait to say “Go watch it!”

If I had to review every episode individually there’s one or two that might get 4 stars and so far only one that I would give 3 stars to. The rest get 5 out of 5. 11 out of 10. They’re good. They’re great. They’re “watch 17 episodes in one night and then watch them again tomorrow” good.

Seriously. It’s on Netflix. Go watch it. You won’t be disappointed.

Dear Authors, Write Crap

No, really, I mean it. This is one of the BIGGEST, HUGEST, MOST IMPORTANT pieces of advice I ever got, and I got it at twelve or thirteen years old and it changed my whole outlook.

You see these posts for artists about how your taste and your skill aren’t on the same level yet, that you draw your best and feel it’s not good enough because you’re comparing your “drawing #257” to a professional’s “drawing #20,985”. It takes time and practice to get the stuff coming out of the pencil to look as good as you want it to.

Same goes for writing.

In this lovely writing group I now belong to, I see a lot of posts from obvious beginners asking “how do I start”, “how do I get good”, “how do I get this book to publishable quality”? The answers? You write, you write lots of crap, and you don’t because it’s crap and you need to hide it in a drawer and write more crap until one day it won’t be crap anymore.

Give yourself permission to fuck up.

Give yourself permission to suck.

Yeah, classes and workshops and books on writing can help. Yeah, reading widely helps a lot. In the end, the only thing you can really do is put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and write. And accept the fact that it will suck. Your first novel will suck and should not be published. Your sixth novel may still suck and might not be salvageable. Your tenth novel … well, that might suck too, but you’ll get there at some point.

I have binders full of printed off stories, novellas, and starts of novels, not to mention discs my computer can’t even read any more FULL of stories, that I wrote from the time I was 13 until I was 28 and published my first novel. I WROTE FOR 15 YEARS WITH NO HOPE OF BEING PUBLISHED.

Let that sink in.

I’ll say it again.

I practiced writing for 15 years. So, don’t ask me how to get that first attempt published. Because you don’t. You write years worth of practice garbage first.

That’s the biggest problem with the indie market. Don’t get me wrong, I love being an indie author and I firmly believe the traditional publishing gatekeepers were keeping the gates too firmly shut. Indie publishing allows non-traditional voices that wouldn’t be able to get books to the public via the Big Five a space in the publishing world. And that is beautiful. But now everything thinks that you just slap words on a page and call yourself an author. You don’t.

Being an author, a professional author, a GOOD author, means practice. It means being humble enough to learn something through critique and lecture and practice. It means admitting that this scene or that character or an entire freaking book is not working and needs to be edited, cut, or tossed in a bin and burned.

Being a good author takes time. And that is something that our fast-paced, production-driven, star-struck social media world has forgotten. You don’t publish everything you write. You don’t publish the first thing you write.

This goes hand in hand with my previous post. Slow down. Get to know yourself as a writer. Give yourself time and space to evolve and develop a style and a voice.

As the dearly beloved Ms. Frizzle says “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy”.

Writer garbage. It’s good for you. Just don’t publish the garbage in your haste to “be published”. The rest of us will thank you for waiting.

Hey Writers, Slow Down

I joined a very active writing group on Facebook where authors of all stripes (published and yet to be published, self and trad, seasoned and fresh) can ask questions about anything writing related, from plot twists to book blurbs to sentence structure. I like that most posts get 10+ replies and many go into the triple digits as the conversation builds. I like that, for the most part, people are polite but pull no punches. We could be a little more tolerant of the spelling and grammar errors since we have a lot of EAL members, but hey, no group is perfect.

One thing I am noticing is the number of people looking to the Facebook hivemind to do their brainstorming for them. Not just help them with a sticking point (is this detail or that twist believable/plausible) but entire chunks of plot.

For example:

64 years old married man, in a search of new husband for his 55 years old wife. What could be the reasons?

how do i start a feud between brothers

how do I start a feud between a male and female friends

I want to end a relationship in the book I’m writing but can’t come up with a good enough reason, any suggestions? I want something that will completely traumatise the guy.

(Description of character set up and scene)  I stuck there. I am not able to come up with conflict. Could you guys please suggest for further?

My advice to these authors? SLOW DOWN.

If you’re an outliner like me and you’re hitting these roadblocks during the outlining stage, take a break. Take a walk, do the dishes, talk to a friend about what you’re planning and why you’re stuck – not online, but in person, out loud. Let it sit in your head for a bit. Work on something else for a while. Skip that part of the outline and jot down what you know. I’ve been stuck like this, I have interesting projects on the back burner because they’re stuck exactly like this. I have a character and no plot yet so I let it sit.

If you’re a pantster (someone who just writes with no outline) and you find yourself frequently stuck to the point of abandoning projects, maybe you need to try outlining. If you have tried outlining and it’s not for you, try the same tips as above: take a walk, talk to a friend, do a mindless chore, have a shower, let it sit, let your mind mull it over. I’ve been here before too. I get up and stretch, run through my taekwondo patterns, make a snack, write a different scene and come back to it.

We’re obsessed with productivity (I’m one to talk, right? Setting word count goals and project deadlines like a mad woman) but we’re allowed to have slow days. When I’m stuck on my novel I work on my memoir. Or I work on world building and catch the words up on a later day. Slow down. You don’t have to complete an entire novel every month. You don’t have to be the fastest. Slow down and think for yourself. This is YOUR story, YOUR novel, write it the way you want to.

And don’t worry about your productivity speed. I’ve been waiting 7 years for the next George RR Martin novel to come out. Write at your own pace, and take time to recharge your creativity. Do your own brainstorming because the book is ultimately yours.

And yes, when all else fails, that is what a writing group is ultimately for. But I get the feeling that the second these writers hit a snag they jump on Facebook yelling “bail me out! This is hard! Give me the answer!” Writing is hard. It takes a lot of braining. Creating is exhausting and draining work, no matter what or how you create. Recharge, slow down, take breaks, let your mind wander at its own pace instead of the pace the world has set out for it.

 

Publishing Tips for New Writers

I’ve been seeing this a lot lately, so often that it’s scaring me. It’s a question, or a variation on it, and new writers are asking it over and over again: how much should I pay to get published?

The short answer: YOU NEVER PAY TO BE PUBLISHED. ZERO. NADDA. NOT A DAMN RED CENT.

The long answer is, well, long, and involves some important terms.

If you are going the traditional publication route, here are the things you need to know:

  1. Getting an agent is difficult but useful. Agents are “governed” by a professional board of ethics thingy that forbids agents from asking for reading fees or editing fees. Agents get paid when you get paid and the amount is in the contract you sign with them (generally a percentage of any advances and/or royalties you earn on manuscripts they represent for you). If an agent asks for a reading fee, or sends you to a “professional reading company” or “screening company” that charges a reading fee, it is a SCAM.
  2. You can pitch directly to SOME publishers, but it limits the number of legit publishers you can reach out to. Many only accept submissions through agents.
  3. A traditional publisher foots the bill for cover art, editing, proofing, and layout. IT WILL NOT EVER COST YOU MONEY TO WORK WITH A LEGIT TRADITIONAL PUBLISHER. They will pay you royalties on EVERY book sold. They make their money back, and make a profit, on the rest of the cover price (the part they don’t pay you).
  4. If you get a publisher that is well-established, you may get an advance. This means “An advance on future royalties” and they don’t have to pay you anything else until your book earns back that advance and starts turning a profit again.

If you are publishing independently (self-publishing), here is what you need to know:

  1. The act of publishing the book, as a paperback or e-book, costs ZERO DOLLARS.
  2. You may need to hire one or more various PUBLICATION SERVICE PROVIDERS to help you get the manuscript ready for publication. This can include editors, proofreaders, cover artists, interior artists, and interior formatters. Whatever you are not comfortable doing yourself, you need to pay for. A service provider provides a service, for a fee, and that is it. If a service provider is requesting rights to your book or royalties IT IS A SCAM. You pay someone ONCE, either you pay upfront for a service OR you pay part of the cost of the book.
    1. SPECIAL NOTE: When I did my picture books I worked with a friend who did my illustrations. We have an agreement to split all royalties 50/50 because I could not afford to pay him upfront. This was mutually agreed upon.
  3. You need a SALES PLATFORM. Most commonly, people use Amazon, via KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) for both e-book and paperback. It costs NOTHING to upload your manuscript and cover and you earn money for each book sold. Amazon also makes money on each book sold. They hold no rights to your book. Other platforms include Lulu.com, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, Kobo Writing Life, and IngramSpark.
    1. SPECIAL NOTE: Ingram Spark charges a 1-time set up fee of $50 per title BUT they offer much wider distribution options on their paperbacks AND a return policy. I have many friends who use this service and are more than happy with the quality.
    2. SPECIAL NOTE: Many sales platforms and distributors and printers offer various publication services as listed above. If they are optional, it is more likely to be a legit company. IF IT IS A MANDATORY COST TO HAVE YOUR BOOK PUBLISHED WITH THEM IT IS A SCAM.
  4. If you are doing paperbacks, you need a printer. You can find small printers local to you (in Manitoba we have Friesen’s Printing). A printer’s only job is to take a digital file of your book and make it a paperback. Some are Print-on-Demand (POD), which means there is no minimum order size. KDP is POD, so when a reader orders your paperback on Amazon, KDP prints one copy and ships it. This is a little more expensive per copy, but you have no unsold stock sitting in a warehouse somewhere. Some printers do have a minimum print run (anywhere from 50-500 so be careful, it took me 4 years to sell 400 copies of my debut novel) and the bulk print run could save you as much as 30-50 cents per copy but you now have to store all those books. Printers may charge a 1-time set up fee, in addition to per-book costs. They do not get rights to your book, or royalties on books sold (unless, like Amazon, they are an automated POD system that is handling your sales as well).
  5. If you want books in retail stores, you need a distributor. These are the people who handle the orders from the store, and handle the returns for you. They get a cut of the cover price for every book they move on your behalf, and may also charge a warehousing fee for books in storage. I would skip this step unless you have high sales (1000 books a year or more) or are running a small press of your own.

 

The best rule of thumb to keep in mind is this: money should always flow to the author. My second rule is this: You either pay a person coming, or going, not both. That means, you either pay for a service upfront, or you pay royalties/cut of the book price but not both.

If you are unsure of a contract or company ASK. There are dozens of writers’ groups online and there should be a local writers’ guild or union close to you that you can join.  Do a search for the company but add “reviews” after their name to see what other people are saying about them.

If you have any questions about this article, or if you feel I’ve missed something, contact me. Just over 4 years ago I stepped off the deep end into the indie publishing world. We don’t have time to make all the mistakes ourselves, we have to learn from each other.

How Long to Stick Around

It’s a tough call to make. How much do you give? How hard do you try? How long are you going to stick it out? What are you willing to do before walking away?

I’m talking specifically about support groups, networking groups, writing groups and such. As creatives and entrepreneurs, we’re often invited to these types of groups. We join hoping to find like-minded people to discuss the trials and tribulations of our passions. We join looking for people to help us through the rough patches and support us in some way.

I’m a part of several writing groups. The ones I like best are groups for writers to just chum around in. We can ask for a bit of help with research or brainstorming, share neat stories and plot bunnies, and talk about the process of writing. These groups have zero focus on sales or promoting. It’s just writers hanging out. And it’s nice.

I’m in more promotion-focused groups too and I quickly lose interest. It devolves into “buy my book” and everyone shouting into the void. Everyone comes to sell and no one is there to buy. I don’t stay in groups long when they become sales groups.

I’m in handmade, craft, and local sell-stuff groups. Sometimes I’ll comment on a “looking for a gift” thread but most times people aren’t looking for books, even locally authored ones. They don’t equate books with crafts or with handmade. They don’t view books as good gifts. I like to hang around these groups anyways because I like to buy, and I like to support other local makers by tagging them in posts that might net them a sale.

The big question for me is how long do I stay in “networking groups”?

I joined a local networking group for local women who ran businesses or worked for themselves. Seemed like a great fit. I’m a writer. Not everyone is a reader, and not every reader enjoys the type of books I write. But I didn’t join the group looking to sell stuff. I went into this hoping to make connections that I needed. I need to connect with locally owned businesses in the small local towns who would be willing to stock some books. I need to connect with business owners who are looking for a proofreader or editor for their various materials. And yeah, I was hoping to connect with other people who understood the pains of marketing who would help me spread the word about some of my events.

I got none of that.

I’ve shown up for events, even events that cost me money to attend. I’ve bought from businesses promoted by the group. I’ve shared and liked posts. I’ve passed contact info back and forth. I held a contest and not a single member of the group entered. I have asked for help in promoting events and had zero shares.

So, when is it time for me to pull up stakes and leave? I mean, this obviously isn’t the community for me. None of the members actually care if I succeed or fail. I’ve done my bit, I gave and gave and tried and participated, but I see no returns. How long do I have to pay in? How much of my time and energy do I have to give to the group before the group will give back to me?

And this isn’t the only group. I’ve dedicated myself to multiple groups, over and over again, giving time and energy to wind up being the only one trying and everyone expecting everything of me. I’ve left critique groups because I was the only one actually reading and critiquing and I could never get a comment on my work. I’ve left promotion groups that were really about promoting the work of one or two people (who were not me) and the rest of us were only there to be the audience.

Maybe it’s time I leave this networking group too. Because I’ve asked for support. I’ve asked members to swing by my friend’s quilt shop but no one ever does. It has become a group run by a few for the benefit of their closest friends, and that’s fine, but then don’t advertise it as a group to help everyone. Because that’s not what you’re trying to do. It’s a group set up to help the in-crowd, and I’m not the in-crowd, I’m the awkward nerdy girl who gets stuck doing all the work for the in-crowd.

I’ve got my own projects that need my energy and if people aren’t going to help me, then I do not have the time and energy to help them either. Giving has to go both ways or givers end up burning out. And I would gladly help promote for these amazing women. I just don’t see anything in it for me except another drain on my time and energy.

It’s almost the end of the year. We all start talking about “next year’s goals”. My goal is to work on my priorities. Maybe it’s selfish, but I’m burning out. You want a piece of me this coming year? You want a piece of my time, my talents, my energy? Show up and help out. Otherwise, I won’t have the time or the energy to spend on you. And I won’t regret it one bit.

Toodles.

Popular Q&A Platform Harmful to Writers

Have you heard of Quora? Because Quora may be helping readers steal your books.

You sign up and you can ask questions and get multiple answers from other users on a variety of topics, both personal and technical in nature. Looking for a recipe? Kitchen hack? Relationship advise? Go ahead and ask. The idea is similar to Wikipedia in that users can add their own answers, creating discussion and a wide base of knowledge. You can up or down vote answers to help keep the most useful information more visible.

Sounds good, right?

I don’t remember when or why I joined up. I think I saw a question that I wanted to answer and I was in. I get regular emails from them “Can you answer this question?” I delete them without reading them if I’m not in the mood. No one forces you to answer anything.

Lately, I noticed a scary trend in the questions I was getting (since I have literature as one of my interests on Quora). People were asking where to download free e-books (in general) or free pdf copies of specific titles.

Some titles were classics and difficult to find in electronic format so people directed them to Project Gutenberg and other similar digitization projects.

For the general request, I directed people to the free section of Amazon, or to Smashwords (which is much easier for indie authors to use when it comes to free content and actually has pdfs).

Some titles were newer and not being offered for free. And that’s when I noticed people posting links to pirate sites.

I tried to combat it by answering “Stop stealing from authors. Go to Amazon and buy the book” or something to that effect. “Your library has a digital lending catalogue, go borrow the book if you legit can’t afford it” was added in there, but politer wording.

Obviously, as an author, this upset me, A LOT. Equally as obvious was the fact that I could not fight this, one question at a time. I changed my tactics to include two new things: I contacted the author or publisher of titles I saw people requesting; I contacted Quora support.

I haven’t heard back from any of the authors I contacted. I hope my message did not get lost in cyberspace and that they have someone who can help with the problem on their end. I’m one little indie author with no industry pull, but a few “cease and desist” letters or “copyright infringement” suits against Quora from the big 5 publishers would quickly change things.

Because Quora isn’t interested in changing. I FINALLY got a response to my inquiry with them:

Hello Casia,

The questions referenced in your complaint do not violate any Quora policy. For more info, see: https://qr.ae/TUG6CH.

However, there may be specific answers to those questions that do violate our policy on spam, or some other Quora policy. We suggest that you report specific content you come across that you believe may violate our policies.

You can report questions, answers, comments, and messages by clicking on the ‘more’ menu located beneath the content (e.g., the “…” option), selecting “Report”, and then choosing the appropriate reporting option. Our moderation team will then review the reported content and take action based on our policies and guidelines.

We appreciate your understanding.

Sincerely,

Roger
User Operations
Quora

That’s right. You heard it straight from Quora folks. To be fair, they’re right, there’s nothing illegal with asking “Where can I get TITLE by AUTHOR for free?”. The illegal part is the answers. It’s the fact that people are going “Yeah, I cracked that DRM and have it on my blog, here, download it free”. I saw this. I clicked the links. It worked. (I promptly deleted the file because I will not read stolen copies).

Quora is not interested in protecting authors. That means we have to protect ourselves.

Please share this post with every author you know and in every writing group that you belong to. If you’re with a traditional publisher, warn them about Quora. Joining is free and if they have a social media rep or someone who monitors for copyright infringement online (ie Pirate sites) they should add Quora to the list of sites they are monitoring.

If you do find someone posting illegal links to illegal copies of your book, contact Quora and tell them to take it down or you will take legal action against them. They are legally responsible for the content of their site, even user-generated content.

The world already looks down on our work and undervalues books and authors. This is just one more platform people are using to avoid paying us at all costs.

A Mother’s Pride

I am so proud of my daughter right now, but I am also hurting for her. She has come up against one of the hardest tests of the world, and she handled it amazingly well – unfortunately it cost her a lot.

On Friday at school a little girl, “T”, was poked in the eye by one of the known “mean boys”. My daughter was making paper snowflakes for her friends and decided to make one for “T” as well. Now, “T” is moderately high-needs, she has some pretty obvious symptoms like stimming, and she is 6, going on 7 (like my daughter). I know many of the kids, including my daughter, find “T” annoying. That didn’t stop my daughter from feeling mad that “T” had been bullied. My daughter knows what it feels like to be bullied so she was ready to cheer “T” up with a pretty paper snowflake.

Her friends were not impressed. They tried to talk her out of it, and even tried bribing her with a piece of gum. My daughter gave “T” the snowflake anyways.

On Monday her friends excluded her at recess and free play and sat at different tables from her. Same again on Tuesday.

On Tuesday my daughter did a nice thing for her friends, she sharpened pencil crayons for them. She then asked if she could borrow a marker and was told no. This resulted in an exchange of little notes. The one I saw said “I am never giving you gum again you are not my FRIEND”. On the back was a drawing of four girls, one on one side of a table, the other three on the other side. The lone girl was labelled with my daughter’s name, the other three were just labelled “us”. It was from the girl my daughter considered her best friend.

We were just making plans for my daughter’s birthday and this was the one girl my daughter wanted to invite to go out for a special day. This was the one girl my daughter has named her best friend since Kindergarten.

This afternoon my daughter exploded at me. She did not want to do her home reading. After an hour long temper tantrum she calmed enough I could do some prying and I got this story out of her. It turns out she was excluded again today.

I wrote a letter to her teacher explaining the chain of events. I’m all for children learning social interaction without major adult interference, and I think kids need the space and time to learn how to act towards each other on their own, but this concerned me deeply.

My daughter wrote a letter explaining how she was feeling. “I don’t want to go to school right now. I don’t want to be bullied anymore. I am afraid I won’t have any friends anymore.”

She was begging me to homeschool her. She said, “All the girls picked her side and I’m left with all the bullies” (she has a bit of a history with a few of the boys in her class).

I am so proud of her. She made the choice to do a compassionate and kind thing, even though her friends tried to talk her out of it. She’s had to learn the hard way that choosing the right thing can sadly cost you everything. These are the girls she desperately wants to be friends with, that she desperately wants to spend time with, and they’ve shunned her. I only hope when they dangle “friendship” in front of my daughter with some cruel or dangerous conditions (we’ll be your friends if…) that she’ll choose the right thing again.

Until then, all I can do is tell her I’m proud of her and help her build the emotional language to deal with the fall out.

Oh, and she grew up right before my eyes during dinner this evening. She said, “I know before I was yelling at you about my reading because I was mad but I want to apologize. I’m sorry for yelling. I was sad and I let it out as mad.”

She continues to amaze me and I think, road bumps aside, she’s on her way to becoming one heck of a young woman.

The Hateful Eight – Review

I want to start this off by saying I have seen a lot of Quentin Tarentino’s movies. I was probably too young to see Pulp Fiction the first time I saw Pulp Fiction. I saw Django in theatres, twice. I loved the whole cast of Kill Bill. So, when the previews came out for Hateful Eight I was excited.

I like Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russel, and Tim Roth and recognized Jennifer Jason Leigh from the Twin Peaks mini-series (the second one, not the original). I liked her in that (where she also worked with Tim Roth).

Now, to the movie itself.

It’s slow. Very slow. By the time I shut it off nothing really had happened. The movie relies on repetitive jokes and Jennifer’s character is punched and hit for laughs because she’s a murderer.

The setting is Wyoming in the winter, within the first few years after the American Civil War. There are several characters hailing from both sides of the war and the political conflict is supposed to add tension, especially with Samuel L Jackson playing a black cavalry officer.

When they arrive at the general goods store/tavern/inn where they plan to whether the storm there is some question as to where the regular owner is and why she left her place in the hands of a Mexican no one has met before. The previews stated that people were going to die and characters hint that someone there may be in league with the murderer, trying to free her before she goes to trial. Add that to the potential mystery of the missing owner and you’ve got a great set-up.

But the set-up takes so long I started losing interest. And then you find out that the Confederate General lost his son and that the black Major killed him. To be fair, the son was in Wyoming to kill blacks so he probably had it coming. But Samuel L Jackson is given a horrible monologue where he taunts the old general about this death, with the purpose of provoking the old man to violence.

At least I assume that was the purpose. This was the point where I shut it off.

Not only does the monologue go into detail about torturing the man in the snow, but then goes into graphic detail about how the Major sexually assaults the man.

That was enough for me.

I was willing to wait out the slow. I was willing to put up with the rather stupid sense of humour. I really wanted to see this movie. I enjoyed Tim Roth’s character immensely, and I loved the coach driver and the Mexican. But I couldn’t watch anymore of this movie.

I was a Tarantino fan. I put movies on my to-see list, simply because he was a part of them. No more. I have zero interest in seeing anymore of his films. His writing has become cheap and uninteresting and I don’t feel like supporting films with this type of content, or the people who create it.

Past Tarantino films I would have given a 4 or 5 stars for clever writing, quick jokes, solid acting, and fast-paced, raunchy, over-the-top stories. I give The Hateful Eight 1 star.

Don’t see this film. It’s a waste of your time.