Author, photographer, certified Hufflepuff. Adoptive mother of the internet. Way, way over 21 years old. Constantly struggling with impostor syndrome. Notoriously difficult to kill. Tumblr gave her a crown and she forged a knighthood.
Brief update on the state of your favorite dragonmother: I am finally sleeping through the night again, after weeks of waking myself up every few hours with coughing. The cough is still there, and sometimes still bad, but I’m a tiny bit better every day so I’ll take what I can get. This was my first time with pneumonia, and some of my longtime followers might remember that my immune system is pretty borked, so it hit me really hard.
I ended my history blog early for the year on account of the illness plus working retail. All writing projects are now suspended until the new year, so if you’ve been wondering why there’s been no new fanfic, that’s the reason. I had intended to start the final arc of my dual-Inquisitor series by now, but there was just no way I could do it.
I might do holiday cards next week. If you want one, poke an address into ye olde ask box - yes, even if you think I already have it because, rest assured, there are no guarantees.
I expect to continue being largely absent from most online things, barring the occasional reblog, for at least another week or two. I hope you’re all well. Mother loves you.
hello everyone if u have a cat that u believe needs protection you can email the san francisco cat museum and they will add your cat to the list of cats under the protective paw of Bastet the Egyptian goddess of cats http://www.catmuseumsf.org/protectpaw.html
okay but actually pls read the list of existing names on this
read the names it’ll make your day 10000% brighter
a personal highlights list
Shout out to the person who submitted “All the Cats,” because that’s exactly who should be protected - all the cats.
Here’s my nagging little reminder that if you’re able to contribute and feeling generous, there are great charitable options out there that are not discriminatory, who truly do the work they claim to do, and provide benefits beyond the holidays.
These are just a few:
AIDS United - This group was founded during the original HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s, but AIDS is not history yet. Please don’t forget that.
Your local food bank - I cannot stress to you how amazing food banks are. They provide exactly what is needed, and so many go far beyond food in giving clothing, free education and more (should out to my friends at CCNW).
NYT Neediest Cases - What I love about this drive, though it is local to NY organizations, is its focus on telling people’s stories and giving them their humanity. These aren’t nameless, faceless charity cases—these are real people.
Operation Santa Claus - For our friends with serious mental health issues. Ok, now this is very local to me and holiday-focused, but it’s great to have an opportunity to give to adults who would like to have a nice holiday. I love kids, kids are great, but there are lots of people who could use some extra love this time of the year.
If you know of any other adult gift drives like this one, please let me know!!
In my modern AU that I write with one of my closest friends, Varric DMs a roleplaying game for a bunch of the other characters, and it was so much fun to write that I’m sorry we’re done. Among the highlights, Bull plays a fairy, Josephine plays a gigantic barbarian, and Hawke plays a character who is obviously supposed to be Varric. It’s hilarious and I can’t wait to see how the readers react.
I’ve decided to tell you guys a story about piracy.
I didn’t think I had much to add to the piracy commentary I made yesterday, but after seeing some of the replies to it, I decided it’s time for this story.
Here are a few things we should get clear before I go on:
1) This is a U.S. centered discussion. Not because I value my non U.S. readers any less, but because I am published with a U.S. publisher first, who then sells my rights elsewhere. This means that the fate of my books, good or bad, is largely decided on U.S. turf, through U.S. sales to readers and libraries.
2) This is not a conversation about whether or not artists deserve to get money for art, or whether or not you think I in particular, as a flawed human, deserve money. It is only about how piracy affects a book’s fate at the publishing house.
3) It is also not a conversation about book prices, or publishing costs, or what is a fair price for art, though it is worthwhile to remember that every copy of a blockbuster sold means that the publishing house can publish new and niche voices. Publishing can’t afford to publish the new and midlist voices without the James Pattersons selling well.
It is only about two statements that I saw go by:
1) piracy doesn’t hurt publishing.
2) someone who pirates the book was never going to buy it anyway, so it’s not a lost sale.
Now, with those statements in mind, here’s the story.
It’s the story of a novel called The Raven King, the fourth installment in a planned four book series. All three of its predecessors hit the bestseller list. Book three, however, faltered in strange ways. The print copies sold just as well as before, landing it on the list, but the e-copies dropped precipitously.
Now, series are a strange and dangerous thing in publishing. They’re usually games of diminishing returns, for logical reasons: folks buy the first book, like it, maybe buy the second, lose interest. The number of folks who try the first will always be more than the number of folks who make it to the third or fourth. Sometimes this change in numbers is so extreme that publishers cancel the rest of the series, which you may have experienced as a reader — beginning a series only to have the release date of the next book get pushed off and pushed off again before it merely dies quietly in a corner somewhere by the flies.
So I expected to see a sales drop in book three, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, but as my readers are historically evenly split across the formats, I expected it to see the cut balanced across both formats. This was absolutely not true. Where were all the e-readers going? Articles online had headlines like PEOPLE NO LONGER ENJOY READING EBOOKS IT SEEMS.
There was another new phenomenon with Blue Lily, Lily Blue, too — one that started before it was published. Like many novels, it was available to early reviewers and booksellers in advanced form (ARCs: advanced reader copies). Traditionally these have been cheaply printed paperback versions of the book. Recently, e-ARCs have become common, available on locked sites from publishers.
BLLB’s e-arc escaped the site, made it to the internet, and began circulating busily among fans long before the book had even hit shelves. Piracy is a thing authors have been told to live with, it’s not hurting you, it’s like the mites in your pillow, and so I didn’t think too hard about it until I got that royalty statement with BLLB’s e-sales cut in half.
Strange, I thought. Particularly as it seemed on the internet and at my booming real-life book tours that interest in the Raven Cycle in general was growing, not shrinking. Meanwhile, floating about in the forums and on Tumblr as a creator, it was not difficult to see fans sharing the pdfs of the books back and forth. For awhile, I paid for a service that went through piracy sites and took down illegal pdfs, but it was pointless. There were too many. And as long as even one was left up, that was all that was needed for sharing.
I asked my publisher to make sure there were no e-ARCs available of book four, the Raven King, explaining that I felt piracy was a real issue with this series in a way it hadn’t been for any of my others. They replied with the old adage that piracy didn’t really do anything, but yes, they’d make sure there was no e-ARCs if that made me happy.
Then they told me that they were cutting the print run of The Raven King to less than half of the print run for Blue Lily, Lily Blue. No hard feelings, understand, they told me, it’s just that the sales for Blue Lily didn’t justify printing any more copies. The series was in decline, they were so proud of me, it had 19 starred reviews from pro journals and was the most starred YA series ever written, but that just didn’t equal sales. They still loved me.
This, my friends, is a real world consequence.
This is also where people usually step in and say, but that’s not piracy’s fault. You just said series naturally declined, and you just were a victim of bad marketing or bad covers or readers just actually don’t like you that much.
Hold that thought.
I was intent on proving that piracy had affected the Raven Cycle, and so I began to work with one of my brothers on a plan. It was impossible to take down every illegal pdf; I’d already seen that. So we were going to do the opposite. We created a pdf of the Raven King. It was the same length as the real book, but it was just the first four chapters over and over again. At the end, my brother wrote a small note about the ways piracy hurt your favorite books. I knew we wouldn’t be able to hold the fort for long — real versions would slowly get passed around by hand through forum messaging — but I told my brother: I want to hold the fort for one week. Enough to prove that a point. Enough to show everyone that this is no longer 2004. This is the smart phone generation, and a pirated book sometimes is a lost sale.
Then, on midnight of my book release, my brother put it up everywhere on every pirate site. He uploaded dozens and dozens and dozens of these pdfs of The Raven King. You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting one of his pdfs. We sailed those epub seas with our own flag shredding the sky.
The effects were instant. The forums and sites exploded with bewildered activity. Fans asked if anyone had managed to find a link to a legit pdf. Dozens of posts appeared saying that since they hadn’t been able to find a pdf, they’d been forced to hit up Amazon and buy the book.
And we sold out of the first printing in two days.
I was on tour for it, and the bookstores I went to didn’t have enough copies to sell to people coming, because online orders had emptied the warehouse. My publisher scrambled to print more, and then print more again. Print sales and e-sales became once more evenly matched.
Then the pdfs hit the forums and e-sales sagged and it was business as usual, but it didn’t matter: I’d proven the point. Piracy has consequences.
That’s the end of the story, but there’s an epilogue. I’m now writing three more books set in that world, books that I’m absolutely delighted to be able to write. They’re an absolute blast. My publisher bought this trilogy because the numbers on the previous series supported them buying more books in that world. But the numbers almost didn’t. Because even as I knew I had more readers than ever, on paper, the Raven Cycle was petering out.
The Ronan trilogy nearly didn’t exist because of piracy. And already I can see in the tags how Tumblr users are talking about how they intend to pirate book one of the new trilogy for any number of reasons, because I am terrible or because they would ‘rather die than pay for a book’. As an author, I can’t stop that. But pirating book one means that publishing cancels book two. This ain’t 2004 anymore. A pirated copy isn’t ‘good advertising’ or ‘great word of mouth’ or ‘not really a lost sale.’
That’s my long piracy story.
note: for those asking why there will be no ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of CALL DOWN THE HAWK this year.
where is that renaissance painting with those two fellers and a giant fucking random skull on the floor that looks like it was accidentally stretched out in photoshop
somebody please explain
Someone once told me it’s like that because it was designed to be hung in a stairwell so the skull pops out as you walk past.
…I guess it works but you have to be at a pretty sharp angle
There was a whole trend at one point where artists would include something in their paintings (usually a skull, for whatever reason) that’s super distorted in just the right way so that it looks normal if you hold the painting up to a convex/concave mirror. I have absolutely no idea why. But I think that’s what’s going on here.
In case anyone’s curious, here’s what it looks like when you walk past it irl:
It does have a 3D effect to it! It’s pretty neat, guess it would be even more impressive to people from the 14th century.
ahhhhh it’s my favourite painting on my dash!! strap in folks it’s nerd commentary time!!
so there’s like a billion and one things going on in this painting (because it’s the middle of the renaissance and they got a li’l excited) so let’s break this down.
first off, it was painted smack dab in the middle of the renaissance (1533) which means people-with-money are interested in two primary things:
Knowledge of God
this is important and will explain 90% of everything going on (the remaining 10% is just the painter showing off).
okay, so first off it’s called ambassadors because on either side we have a)a stately, educated man of the world, and b)a religious figure head. who precisely they were was up for debate for like 300 hundred years and isn’t really the point. what is the point is that one of them represents the best of man, and the other the best from God; they therefore are ambassadors of these two facets, and to prove their excellence, we have all the items on the shelves.
on the top shelf we’ve got a celestial globe, a sundial, a quadrant, a torquetum, etc. these are all things focused on learning the up there, the things beyond this world but yet are still scientific that humans are categorizing.
meanwhile on the bottom shelf, we’ve got the awesome things of human learning on earth: a terrestrial globe, a book of mathematics for merchants, a lute, hymnal, etc.
the point of having all these things is to show off the glory of human excellence when it comes to learning and also the artist’s ability to paint details. you’ve got the full trivium of learning going on: grammar, logic, rhetoric; and then also the quadrivium: geometry, arithmetic, music, and astronomy. everything is balanced.
H O W E V E R.
holbein is also problematizing human learning even as he’s extolling its virtues. for example, we have a broken string on the lute:
the instrument settings on the polyhedral sundial are actually wrong:
and, most importantly, that mother effing skull.
so the skull represents a couple things.
first, perspective was all 👏 the 👏 rage 👏 during the renaissance, and the better you were at it, the higher respect you got. so if you could draw something like this (which a previous commenter is correct, it was hung by a staircase so you would see it as you passed by), you automatically got that sweet sweet street cred. also if you don’t think it’s impressive that he could paint this by hand, you try it because dear lord it’s not fun pls pls professor let us go back to normal still lifes we’ll never complain about onion skins and tomatoes ever again aaaaaugh—
um so second, this is a form of memento mori, or vanitas, meaning “remember you must die” and “vanity” (a reference to ecclesiastes), respectively. the point of painting these was to remind the owner that they are mortal, and that time is short — and that no matter how much human knowledge they accumulated (the shelves), nothing could stop death.
side note: the placement of the skull is also important. the skull is a reference to death, the end of life, so it’s placed on the floor. compare this to michelangelo’s creation of adam, which is a reference to the beginning of life, and is placed on the sistine chapel’s ceiling.
for life you look up, for death you look down.
AND BECAUSE OF THAT, we get to the last thing this painting is hiding:
a crucifix, tucked away in the top left corner so that you can barely see it, but once you do, you can’t unsee it. because, once again, this is the middle of the renaissance: holbein wants to stress both the importance of human knowledge (plato’s know thyself), and its limits (calvin’s ‘man never has clear knowledge of self until he has seen God’s face’). remember knowledge, remember death, remember christ.
and remember how good of a painter he is he needs more patrons.
anyway i could wax poetic about this painting for literal hours (the one and only time i saw it in person i wound up explicating to random viewers bc i can’t help myself and y’know they were receptive), so yeah. there’s the cliff notes version.
How many of you just tilted your computer to make the skull appear?
Reblogging to commend @momentofmemory for some of the best and most interesting art meta I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.
Okay in my house we have a strange tradition. My mother builds this beautiful Christmas village.
It wraps all around our house through the rooms and under the trees and it’s wonderful.
Every year she hides the Christmas Vampire
This started when I was a very small got child and spread to all of my friends, including my best friend from elementary school who I just so happened to grow up and marry. Now that we have grown up and moved nearly 600 miles away we still always go home for a week at Christmas for multiple reasons, including the Christmas Vampire.
Needless to say we still partake and things have gotten heated.
Stay tuned for the epic conclusion and to see my husband and father in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s sooty costume when I find the Christmas Vampire First!
Dad has no fricken clue how to trash talk and I don’t trust him in the slightest.
The saga continues. Mom hasnt finished the village yet and it’s starting to get to her….
Hahahaha, I mean I love this on multiple levels. But what really threw it over the top was the mom’s anxiety over the world-building and city design being right. I feel you vampire-hiding mom, I feel you.
can I just say that the Christmas Vampire is infinitely preferable to the Elf on the Shelf
Life doesn’t end at 23. 30 isn’t old. Fetishising youth as the ultimate desirable characteristic in a person is actively harmful to both young and old people. Some of us lost our teenage years to abuse and recovery, and can only begin living when we’re at a different life stage. Literally knock it off, the lot of you.