The Big Idea: Lindsay Smith

The folks at Serial Box have been mashing up genres and serializing the results, and thus we have The Witch Who Came In From the Cold: Cold War meets Urban Fantasy. Here’s series co-author Lindsay Smith to catch you up on what’s going down.

LINDSAY SMITH:

The Witch Who Came In From the Cold is a study in duality. Most spy novels are—a delicate game of cat-and-mouse, a waltz between equals, a low moment in which patriot wonders whether they’re fighting for the right side. But with ColdWitch, as we’re calling it, we wanted to go even further.

A political cold war wasn’t enough. We had to go and add magic, too.

Prague is an ancient city with plenty of mystical, magical legends swirling in its foggy streets. In 1970, it’s the iron edge of the curtain, newly absorbed into the Soviet Union but just European enough to safely host Western intelligence services, too. We have plenty of USSR-US conflict simmering over in 1970, from the tail-end of the space race to the delicate maneuvering of arms, technology, and knowledge. Our two leading CIA officers, Gabriel Pritchard and Joshua Toms, are eager to recruit new sources in the soviet Czech government and exfiltrate a Soviet scientist to America for debriefing.

But Gabe has other problems. He picked up a little something in Cairo, something strange and elemental and seemingly bent on making his life miserable. He longs to stay grounded in his mundane world of political chess and slow, steady spycraft, but if he wants to keep his edge, he must confront this magical side of the world, and the more he learns, the more the magic gets its hooks in him.

Problem is, there isn’t just one magical organization in the world. There’s two. And any witch—Russian or American, British or Czech, or more besides—could be aligned with either one.

The Consortium of Ice is a longstanding organization of right-thinking witches, staid and growing more entrenched by the year. They seek to regulate magic for the greater good. A precautionary measure. Keep things nice and organized so the rest of the world doesn’t uncover the magic latent in everything.

The Acolytes of Flame, on the other hand, want to watch the world burn. A good, cleansing fire is just the thing the world needs for their order of powerful witches to ascend.

Tatiana Morozova comes from a long line of Ice witches, and a slightly shorter but no less powerful line of Soviet apparatchiks. When your ritual magic requires witches to work in tandem at all kinds of geographical locales, it helps to be able to move freely, and the KGB lets her do just that. Now she’s got this American, this outsider to the magical world, meddling in her business, attracting attention from the Ice and Flame both. It’s tough enough coordinating with other Ice witches, some of them Westerners, without tipping off the chief of the KGB rezidentura. Now she has to manage this bumbling CIA operative, who assumes she’s just trying to pitch him to spy for the KGB.

Which, in fairness, she might.

The idea of these shifting loyalties, these intersecting and diverging causes really fueled our writing process for Cold Witch. What if the MI6 officer helping you defeat the Russkies is an Acolyte of Flame, waiting for his chance to burn your hard work to the ground? How can you trust your American counterpart in the Ice when he’d do anything to embarrass your government? And is there anyone in this snowy, elementally-charged city who isn’t a witch, a spy, or some combination therein?

And we’ve only cracked the surface of Cold Witch’s potential in Season One. Now that we’ve lined our players up on their chess board, it’s time for the spy games and rituals to really begin.

—-

The Witch Who Came In From the Cold: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Google Play|iTunes|Kobo|Serial Box

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow her on Twitter.

A Brief Note to Nebula Award Nominators

So, I was chatting today with Lois McMaster Bujold, as one does, and she mentioned to me that her latest novel, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, which officially came out last week, was also in the last couple of days judged eligible for the Nebula Awards currently being nominated for, which are for books released in 2015.

Why is it eligible now? Presumably because an eARC version (an electronic version, before all the copy-editing and other cleanup is done) was offered for sale by Baen in 2015, and that’s enough to qualify it for 2015 consideration rather than 2016 consideration.

All well and good, of course, but it’s also the case that there are five days left for nominating for the Nebulas this year, and some Nebula nominators might not know that the book is eligible now, rather than later.

So: Hey! Nebula nominators! Gentlemen Jole and the Red Queen is eligible for your consideration now. If you’ve read it and liked it enough to want to nominate it, this would be the time. And if you were planning to read it with an eye toward nominating, you have until the fifteenth to do that.

(Please note this is informational on my part and not an endorsement of this particular book, for the simple reason that I have not yet read it. But I am looking forward to reading it. What can I say, I’m a Bujold fan.)

The Rest of the Night in New Hampshire

Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.

More thoughts on what went down in New Hampshire:

* First, that vaguely squelchy sound you hear in the background is the GOP pooping itself because, in fact, Donald Trump is real, and he is spectacular — or at the very least, he thumped the hell out of the rest of the GOP squad in New Hampshire. He outpolled his nearest competitor John Kasich better than two to one, and beat Iowa winner Ted Cruz three to one. Trump’s gonna come out of New Hampshire like the crowing cock he is, and he’s the favorite to win the next GOP primary in South Carolina (FiveThirtyEight says he’s got a 55% chance of winning there; Marco Rubio, his nearest competitor, is at just 19%) and he’s ahead in the polls in Nevada, too, which comes after South Carolina.

This scares the shit out of the GOP establishment — as well it should — but, as I’ve noted before, the rise of a populist demagogue was exactly what the GOP has been aiming at for years. Yet again, for the people in the back: If your party spends decades undermining the legitimacy of government, and of governance, and if you sublet your messaging to radio talk show hosts and news networks whose bread and butter is making old white people scared and younger white people angry at minorities, and if you’ve pandered to that scared and angry core to continue to undermine government and governance in a distinctly non-virtuous cycle, then a populist demagogue as your party’s presidential candidate is probably inevitable.

The GOP’s misfortune is that it comes in the form of Trump, who doesn’t need its money and doesn’t care about the Republican Party in any real sense, except as a rented mule he can whip when it suits him. Billionaires are supposed to fund, not run.  Trump is vulgar and racist and generally horrible but he’s not stupid, and he understands the moment, and the movement, the GOP has provided him. The GOP establishment gave him a car that runs on vitriol. He’s going to drive it hard until it falls apart under him, and he’s not going to stick around to clean up the exploded mess. Why should he?

In short, the GOP only have themselves to blame. They asked for Trump. They’ve been asking for him for years. And here he is.

* Trump is the GOP’s fault, but the rest of the field is the GOP’s problem. Kasich put nearly all his chips into New Hampshire and got a distant second place finish as a payout, but South Carolina as I understand it is likely to be less friendly territory for a Republican who actually thinks occasionally working with the other side is a thing that might be done, and anyway he doesn’t have many chips left. Bush left New Hampshire in fourth place with a plan to have his ads target Kasich and Rubio. Rubio has a fifth place finish and a reputation as a broken machine. Cruz has a third place finish and appeals to religious conservatives, of whom there are many in South Carolina, but if the GOP establishment fears Trump, it loathes Cruz. Everyone else in the race doesn’t matter at this point.

None of the above seem to be targeting Trump very much; they’re more content to snipe at each other for the silver, which works out great for Trump. But more to the point, Trump is vulgar and racist and generally horrible, but the people who like him really like him. Who really likes Jeb Bush? Or Marco Rubio? Or John Kasich? Nobody likes Cruz, but inasmuch as no one really likes any of the remaining undercard perfomers, this hasn’t hurt him as much as it should. So Cruz keeps at it. They’re like drowning men desperately trying to push themselves up out of the water on each other’s shoulders, while Trump is in a speedboat with a model and champagne, encouraging them to kill each other and float on top of the bodies.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in South Carolina. But it’s going to be a long ten days until then.

* On the Democratic side, you know, I’m not gonna lie, I was convinced that Sanders was going to have a larger blowout than he did. Not that 60% to 38% is anything to complain about, mind you. He did great. I just thought it would be more. I think it’s because my Twitter feed is full of Bernie supporters.

In any event, it was long known that New Hampshire was Sanders territory. I think Clinton’s people didn’t do a particularly good job of framing expectations there. For example, here’s a fun fact: Clinton’s 38.3% loss in New Hampshire this year is less than one percent off from her 39.1% win of the state in 2008. So her support in the state is pretty much the same as it ever was. The differences this year: One fewer candidate to slice up the rest of the voting pie, Sanders’ “hometown” advantage, and the simple fact that people in New Hampshire, at least, were more energized by Sanders than by her.

Sanders should capitalize on his momentum because it gets harder for him from here — the Nevada caucus is a question mark (Clinton’s got a big lead there but the state hasn’t been polled since December) and FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton a 95% chance of winning South Carolina.

There’s also this:

Clinton and Sanders have roughly the same number of pledges delegates at this point, but Clinton has substantially more “superdelegates” (i.e., party bigwigs) supporting her, so she’s far ahead in the delegate count. In fact, thanks to superdelegates, Clinton comes out of New Hampshire with more delegates than Sanders currently has, even though he beat her 60%-38% in the polls.

So, yeah. Sanders absolutely should enjoy the moment. It goes uphill now, and he’s already way behind, and his big victory ironically ended up being a loss, as far as delegates go — which, for the purposes of the Democratic nomination, are the votes that matter.

* Given her structural advantages, do I think Clinton could eventually lose the nomination to Sanders? Well, I think it will be difficult for her to lose it, but then, she’s been a front-runner before and blown it, so I wouldn’t say it’s impossible. 2016 is not 2008, Sanders is not Obama (for a number of reasons), and Clinton, in my opinion, is a savvier politician than she was eight years ago. So I suspect in the end it’s Clinton. But you never know.

One of Clinton’s bigger problems is that people don’t like her, and there are all sorts of reasons for that, many of which are external to her — two decades of conservative revilement, for a start, down to the recent phenomenon of “Bernie Bros,” i.e., ostensibly liberal dudes who still think it’s fine to crap on Clinton for the unforgivable crime of being a politician whilst female. Sexism is still a thing. Sexism isn’t the only reason for people disliking Clinton — she has her faults — but it’s flat out a lie to say it’s not an overlay, just like it’s flat out a lie to argue that racism isn’t part of why Obama has been loathed by many for the last eight years. It does complicate matters.

For all that, if I were a betting sort, I’d still bet on Clinton. But again, from my point of view, whether Clinton or Sanders wins the nomination is immaterial, since both are so vastly superior to anything the GOP has on offer that I’m pulling the lever for whichever of them make it that far.

(But what about Bloomberg? He might enter the race! Sure, and if he does I’ll think about him then. Until then, I won’t).

And that’s a wrap for New Hampshire.

The Existential Angst of Jeb Bush Failing to Best Ted Cruz in the New Hampshire Primary, in Twitter Form (Featuring Jim Gilmore)

How I spent my New Hampshire primary night.

Postscript: Gilmore eventually cracked triple digits. Good for him.

Team Scalzi

Not long ago I was having a conversation about some recent business stuff going on in my life, and the person I was having the conversation with noted that I was using “we” instead of “I” a lot when I was talking about decisions. They were curious whether there was more than one person actually involved in my decision-making process, or if I just had a massively inflated ego and was using the royal “we.” Well:

1. Yes, I have a massively inflated ego, I mean, duh;

2. In this case, however, I regularly rely on other people to help me make business decisions concerning my work, and that’s who the “we” refers to. At this point in my life there is, in fact, a “Team Scalzi.”

It’s not an official team, mind you. We don’t have softball jerseys or anything (although, now that I think of it, this could be done…), and none of them work for me as an employee. Rather, there are people I work with on the business side of my life to get things done and/or to help me plan for the future and for future projects.

Nor is this especially unusual; many professional writers (and most pro authors) have a group of people who they listen to, or at least get advice from, in terms of their careers and business and futures. The people in these roles, and the types of role, vary from writer to writer, of course.

So who is my “team”? They are:

Spouse: This would be Kristine Scalzi, who, aside from being my partner in life, has a super-sharp business mind both naturally and by education (she has a business degree). She also handles much of the business end of things here, in terms of tracking and organizing various projects and contracts and such. Also, she handles nearly all the homefront issues, which is important when one travels as much as I do.

Smart authors will often compliment their spouses/spousal equivalents and assure you that they would be nothing without them; in my case this is actually also true. Krissy’s organizational and business skills, and willingness to hold down the fort, are nearly entirely responsible for the fact that we are solvent and that I am able to take advantage of as many opportunities as I can. Nothing gets done without her, and everything that does gets done, is made better by her.

Literary Agent: This is Ethan Ellenberg of the Ethan Ellenberg Agency. Aside from a spouse or spousal equivalent, this is probably the most common “team member” for any author. I figure most of you know what an agent does, but for those of you who don’t, this is the person responsible for helping me sell my books to publishers, not just here in the US but worldwide. To do this Ethan has his own team, starting with Bibi Lewis, who handles my foreign sales, and also including a large number of subagents from around the world, who help find buyers in foreign territories. Ethan is a very large part of the reason this happened, and why my work is now in two dozen languages worldwide.

Editor: This is Patrick Nielsen Hayden, my editor at Tor (there are others as well, notably Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press and Steve Feldberg at Audible). Aside from editing my novels, a job that’s he’s done pretty well for a decade now, he and I also strategize about which projects to write and when to put them out, and how to market them to booksellers and readers. In this, Patrick quite obviously has his own team to work with: It’s called Tor Books (likewise Bill and Steve at their respective companies). All these teams are pretty good at what they do.

Film/Television Agent: This is Joel Gotler, of Intellectual Property Management. He’s the one who shops my work to/fields offers from producers and studios in Los Angeles for possible film/TV projects, and given the number of projects we’ve had optioned, he’s clearly good at it. He also advises me on which projects are mostly likely to get interest at any particular moment, and helps me field non-literary-derived projects as well (not everything I pitch for the screen was originally a book).

Entertainment Lawyer: Hey, did you know contracts are tricky and you might want to have a lawyer look at them and give you advice about them? My entertainment lawyer is Matt Sugarman of Weintraub Tobin. In addition to vetting contracts, I also bend his ear about the entertainment industry landscape as he sees it, and where he thinks it might go from here. I also and independently use a local lawyer, John Marchal, to handle estate planning and other such issues not directly related to entertainment, but which have bearing on my business.

Accountant: This is Julie Boring, of Boring & Associates, who has handled our taxes since we moved to Ohio in 2001 and who has kept up with my (sometimes rather drastically) changing income and tax profile over the last fifteen years. She keeps me up to date on tax issues and concerns and helps me regarding how best to maximize charitable giving.

Financial Planning and Services: Dave Selsor of Fifth Third Securities is helping us here. I’m not a flashy investor and generally I follow the advice I give nearly everyone about investing, i.e., “shove it into an index fund and don’t think about it for thirty years.” But we have a few other (generally financially conservative) irons in the fire, and a few less-than-usual financial concerns that take a bit of planning.

Note that members of this “team” interact with each other to varying degrees: My agent interacts with my editor and my film/TV agent, for example, but not generally with my accountant or investment planner. The only consistent point of contact here for all of these folks is me. Nevertheless, information is shared one way or another (usually through me).

I will also note that all the members of my “team,” save my wife, are part of other peoples’ teams as well — my agent (and his agency) has many other clients, as does my lawyer and accountant and so on. It’s a little presumptuous to talk about them as my team, and I know it. Nevertheless these are people in a privileged position in regards to both knowledge of my career and their ability to assist me with it, and when they’re doing that, we’re working toward the same goal. Like a team! So there you are.

Additionally — this is my particular team, which has been built over the years based on my own career needs. Other folks have have some of these people and not others, or others that I don’t have. For example, I don’t have an assistant, which several authors of my acquaintance have (at least one I know has more than one). I also don’t have a manager, which some authors, particularly those who want to work in movies/TV, choose to have. In my case, neither of these make sense. I know other authors who choose not to have agents, a choice I would not be comfortable with personally, but which they seem to be content with. And of course, many writers are single, or might, for varying reasons, prefer not to have their spouses actively involved with the minutiae of their careers.

For what I do and how I do it, this is the team loadout that works for me (literally). In return, most of them get a bit of my income out of it — commissions and fees and such. Which is another thing to think about, incidentally: Whether what you get out of these services will be what you pay for it. In my case it’s a yes — I can’t even imagine trying to wrangle my taxes at this point, or attempting to sell books in Thailand or Estonia, or wherever. Each of these “team” members either helps me save or make money (in some cases both!) and give me good advice, in their areas of expertise, to make decisions. They are well worth what they charge. Again, your mileage may vary.

Do one, as a writer, need people in these particular roles? Well, I always think it’s nice to have a spouse, if you can manage it. Other than that a lot will depend on what your career goals are and how much work you want to take on. For example, if you self-publish primarily and don’t want or plan to approach publishers, either here or overseas, your need for an agent is lower than mine; likewise if you don’t publish books and/or freelance primarily for magazines and Web sites where you can query directly. Also, in many cases, it’s not just about you choosing who to work with. They also have to choose you.

In any event, when I say “we” when I talk about my business, one or more of the folks above are the people that are included in the word. They’re all good at what they do, and I’m glad that in what they do, they do it with and for me.

The Big Idea: Tanita S. Davis

Sometimes people are uprooted and put in new circumstances. How do we adjust, and can we put down new roots that work well enough for us? In her Big Idea, Tanita S. Davis considers this question and how it relates to her YA novel, Peas and Carrots.

TANITA S. DAVIS:

There is no super power greater than knowing how to gather friendly, open, likeminded people around us, to use our intention to make our own safe place in the world. But when our relatives are rotten, and intentional choosing isn’t a skill available to us, what do we do then? Eventually, we stop thinking in terms of family, and seek other bonds.

My first teaching job out of college was working one-on-one with students housed courtesy of the State. They were a mixed lot: entitled incorrigibles who had smarted off to a truancy officer one time too many; runaways from intolerable home lives who’d ended up in the sex trade as a means of survival; gang-affiliated kids who looked like hard-faced adults, serving time for being accessories to grand theft and drive-by shootings. They all shared the simple human desire to belong somewhere – for their families to take them back, for the tight group they’d left behind to arrive one day and rescue them from my classroom… Every day that I worked with them, I watched their counselors and therapists and parole officers try to impress upon them the importance of making new connections, of finding different stomping grounds and other things to hold dear.

It was not a message which found a receptive audience. Almost every one of my students had some piece of the past they held onto against all comers, some piece of the world which represented to them all that they’d lost, and all that they would need to make the world right again. And, for almost all of those students, that thing was a representation of family. A location which they defended with fierce neighborhood pride. A faded Polaroid taped to the headboard at every new placement. A ratty old cardigan or piece of baby blanket held onto since childhood.  A tattoo, stick pin applied with charcoal and baby oil; the name of a best-beloved boldly claiming the tender skin of a wrist or forearm. A piece of a past, real or imagined, and long vanished.

Could they realistically be asked to let go of that? Obviously, no. And yet, how could they move into the future if they weren’t willing to let the past go?

What I saw work, during my brief years with these kids, was encouraging them to change perspective. Maybe they couldn’t have the crew they used to run with, but they could find literal running mates elsewhere. Some left the group home and get involved with long-distance running, basketball, tournament teams traveling and learning the feel of that inclusivity in teams. One girl embraced her love of arguing and took a semester to first observe, then begin to participate in her new high school’s debate team. We didn’t always get to see the next chapter in the lives of those with whom we worked, but sometimes we’d get a card or a call, or a social worker would bring back word. The kids who survived the destruction of their networks and didn’t return to the scene of the disaster were those who found and formed new connections, and new ways into what they ultimately wanted the most.

The world can be puzzled by these deliberate connections, these bonds we seek to supplement biology. Your new home may not be where any of you live, and your new family may be made up of what other people would consider strangers on the internet. I remember wheeling my through a crowded Costco shopping center when my sister was less than a year old, and encountering the crooned, “Oh, she’s precious! She looks just like you two!” It was, in this case, both ludicrous and …ludicrously wrong, as my youngest sister is an American of Cambodian ancestry, I’m an American of African ancestry, and my husband’s ancestral leanings are English, Scottish, and Irish. Sooo…maybe not just like us? But, I’m pretty sure that between her eye rolls – she’s nineteen now – and her general mien of disaffected snarkiness, there’s at least a family resemblance.

Peas and Carrots is a book marketed to middle grade/young adult readers and explores intentionally choosing people to love, and accepting each other in spite of our differences. At the end of the day, peas and carrots don’t go together because they grow together –  legumes and umbeliers are vastly different plant families – nor do they look alike or taste alike… They go together because we put them together. And so can we put together a family, too. Maybe blood shapes our earliest parts, but the choices of who we invite into our circles define us further down the road. It’s an absolutely huge idea that we can have some power over our own happiness in finding good, true, family-tested-friends. Love – and family, however we assemble it –  can be a lot simpler than we make it.

—-

Peas and Carrots: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Visit the author’s blog. Follow her on Twitter.

The 2016 Audie Award Finalists for Fantasy

The Audie Awards are the big award in audio books, celebrating both the words of the author and the performances of the readers. Having won this award myself with Wil Wheaton, I can assure you it’s a thrill to be a finalist with your audiobook reader and even more fun to win.

This year I’m delighted to announce the Audie Award Finalists for 2016 in the category of Fantasy. That’s right! You’re reading it here first!

If for some reason you can’t read the graphic above, the finalists are:

  • Ascension: The Trymoon Saga, by Brain K. Fuller, read by Simon Vance
  • The Cycle of Arawn, by Edward W. Robertson, read by Tim Gerard Reynolds
  • The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin, read by Robin Miles
  • Nice Dragons Finish Last, by Rachel Aaron, read by Vikas Adam
  • Son of the Black Sword, by Larry Correia, read by Tim Gerard Reynolds

Winners will be recognized at the Audies Gala in Chicago on May 11, 2016.

Congratulations and good luck to all of the finalists!

Guess Who Completely Lost Track of Time and Forgot to Update His Web Site Today?

Yep, that would be me. Sorry.

Here, have this lovely version of “God Only Knows” from Petra Haden in compensation.

Pizza and Particles: An Observation on Writing

Note: This entry includes spoilers for my book Redshirts, so if you haven’t read it and want some elements to be a surprise, go ahead and stop reading now.

As you can see from the above embedded tweet and picture, a reader (who also appears to be a NASA scientist) asked me a question about the atoms in the pizza eaten in Redshirts, consumed by the heroes of the story, who had also traveled back in time.

Why would this matter? Because as a plot point in the book, time travelers had about six days to get back to their own time before they began to disintegrate — the atoms of their bodies from the future also existed in the past they’re visiting, and the atoms (eventually) can’t be two places at the same time and would choose to “exist” in the positions where they were in the current frame of reference.

Which is fine as long as you don’t mix atom eras. But when the characters ate pizza, they were commingling atoms from the book’s 2012 with their own atoms several centuries later — and what happens to those atoms from the pizza when the characters return to their own time? Because the atoms gained from the pizza would simultaneously be present elsewhere, and, as already noted, the atoms default to where they were supposed to be in their then-current frame of reference. Right?

As you can see from the tweet above I avoided the answer by giving a completely bullshit response (and then bragging about it). I’m delighted to say I was immediately called on it by another NASA scientist, and I responded appropriately, i.e., by running away. I’m the Brave Sir Robin of science, I am.

But it is actually an interesting question, both for itself and for what it says about my writing process. So now let me try to answer it more fully, because why not.

First, here are the some of the options for what happened to the pizza atoms:

1. After six days they were pooed out and that was the end of it (so to speak). This is a glib answer, and immediately brings up other questions like: So, people from the future don’t absorb atoms from the past at all? Wouldn’t they get hungry? Or thirsty, because presumably it would work the same for liquids? How would they respire? Wouldn’t it be the case in this scenario that everyone from the future would be dead in five minutes from lack of oxygen? These are all reasonable questions, and if correct would have made for a shorter and rather more tragic book, so let’s assume this scenario is not in fact the correct one.

2. After six days the atoms do what they do and revert to their then current locations. What does this mean for each individual? I suspect in the long term not too much. One, a fair number of the atoms will no longer be in the body anyway; they’ll have left through excretion, both through the alimentary canal and respiration. As for the rest, some of them would still be in the body as waste product (i.e., in the process of being expelled but not yet), while the ones that were in the body would be roughly evenly distributed so their sudden disappearance would… probably… not be substantially noticed or cause great disruption to body systems. But it’s certainly possible (depending on how much you eat and/or the positions of these atoms in one’s body) there might be side effects. In this scenario, time travel carries risk analogous to exposure to high radiation levels: Probably fine in small doses, but the more you do it, the more problems potentially crop up. This scenario is logical, given the rules of the particular universe in the book.

3. But wait! At the very end it was revealed there was yet another layer of reality, maybe, and also, maybe, a prime mover of the story independent of the story itself, an author, if you will, who probably could, at their whim, decide that the pizza atoms would just stay where they were, or at least not cause any damage as they left because the author had promised the readers that everyone in the book lived happily ever, so he wouldn’t, like, have them die stupidly from vaporizing atoms, what kind of bullshit is that. This scenario is not outside the realm of possibility, given the rules of the particular universe in the book, but it is kind of slapdash and lazy. Or is it? (Yes.) (Maybe.)

So what’s the actual answer? The actual answer is as the writer I didn’t give the pizza atom scenario any thought whatsoever — it just didn’t come up at all while I was writing — so when this fellow asked the question, I had no idea what the actual answer was, aside from “I don’t know, I didn’t think about it at the time, or really ever, until just now.”

Why didn’t I think of it? For one thing it wasn’t directly material to story at hand, either immediately or long term, so as a plotting consideration it wouldn’t have been anything I would have spent time on. For another thing I was writing quickly and even if I had thought about it at the time, my answer would have likely been “it doesn’t matter to the story, keep going.”

For a third thing, and this is the most relevant thing, I think, writing fiction isn’t about necessarily about so thoroughly developing your world that you as an author have an immediate answer for every possible consequence of the development of your universe. What you are often going for is sufficiency — that the world is logical enough to play in for the purposes of your story — and direction — moving people along in the story quickly enough that they don’t have time or the interest to question your worldbuilding or story-telling choices, at least until the story is done and you’ve bundled them back out into the real world, waving and smiling.

This doesn’t mean you settle for bad or sloppy worldbuilding, on the idea that you’ll just move readers along quickly enough that they don’t see the seams. No, you still attempt to make the universe you’re creating sound. If you set up rules for the universe, you have to follow them as a writer. What it means, however, is that once you’ve made up the rules for the universe, you don’t necessarily have to have an answer for every single question that might come up later. If you’ve built the universe soundly, when previously unanswered questions come up, you can create plausible answers based on the rules of the world you’ve built. Or, more likely, others can, in fan forums and blog posts and Twitter streams, while you sit back and every once in a while say “This is a very interesting theory you have! It might even be true!”

The point is that authors are often an interesting combination of god and tour guide: We create worlds, but then only let readers see the parts of the worlds that suit our own needs — that tell the story we want to tell. What that means is sometimes there are parts to our world that we haven’t seen either, that we only see when or if a reader gets away from us and asks a question we didn’t think to ask ourselves. Sometimes, that question is about pizza.

New Books and ARCs, 2/5/16

Hey, you like books? I like books too! Here are a bunch of new books/ARCs that have come to my door this last week. See any you like? Tell me in the comments!

Various and Sundry 2/5/16

Thoughts on a few things, thoughtfully contained in a single post:

* First, look, a kitten picture!

So dramatic. As noted elsewhere, I suspect that at this point my obit will be headlined, “John Scalzi, Cat Photographer and Occasional Author, Dead of Dander” or something of the sort. But, eh. I’m having fun. And the kittens don’t seem to mind.

* Some folks have asked me if I have any thoughts on the most recent Democratic debate, and the answer is no, not really, for reasons that I mentioned earlier: Basically, Sanders and Clinton represent two flavors of “perfectly acceptable” to me, both in terms of their general positions and relative to whomever the Republicans eventually cough up on their side, so, really, the debates are at this point generally superfluous for one such as myself.

It’s not to say that the debates shouldn’t happen — I think it’s useful for both the candidates and others to see them go head to head on each other, and I suppose there’s a vanishingly small chance that either one of them might do something genuinely foolish or appalling, and then everyone will fall in line with the other candidate after that. But unless and until Clinton or Sanders start gargling puppy blood on stage, whatever.

* On the Republican side of things, it was amusing to watch Trump freak out about not winning Iowa, sad to see Jeb Bush beg people to clap, schadenfreudelicious to see Cruz get apparently absolutely no political or social bump from his win, and interesting to watch the entire chattering class decide that Rubio’s third place finish means he’s going to be the eventual GOP nominee.

Does it? Possibly, although don’t expect either Cruz or Trump to play along, the latter of whom is wounded but is still far ahead in New Hampshire, and the former of whom would happily push a schoolyard of children in front of a bus, one at a time, if that meant he was assured of the presidency. Neither will go down without a fight. Trump I think is already planning his ragequit and independent run should New Hampshire and the next round of primaries not go his way. Also, at this point in Republican history, it’s maybe not the best thing to be seen as a malleable empty suit for the billionaires, which is the thing that recommends Rubio at this point over his main competitors, despite on of them being funded by billionaires, and the other actually being one.

But, honestly, I think Kasich is the best of the GOP field, so what do I know.

* The Internet Outrage of the Week™ was about pathetic MRA/PUA troll Roosh V planning public meetups with his equally pathetic troll pals, only to cancel the meetups when the world announced its general intention to show up and mock the shit out of them. A writer at the Washington Post suggests that everyone got played and now this Roosh character has tons of attention, which is what he was really after. But, you know, when the major story coming out of this little escapade is that the fellow who is the grand alpha mastermind of a men’s movement, who frequently takes selfies of himself with nice cars and mad stacks of cash to signal his manly manliness to the boys he wishes to impress, lives, apparently on sufferance, in his mom’s basement, it does take the air of the fellow a bit, not to mention his “movement.” He’s got attention, but what the attention is saying is “you’re sad and ridiculous.”

The whole “Roosh lives in his mom’s basement” factoid inspired a bit of hand-wringing, in the form of “is it okay to mock someone for living in their mom’s basement when times are tough and sometimes you need the help of your family?” Well, one, in general? Totally fine to live in your parent’s basement as an adult if that’s the hand life is dealing you at the moment. Two, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to note that and also indulge in the rich, creamy irony of a dude trying to posit himself as a testosterone-spiked lord of all he surveys, surveying only as far as his mom’s washer/dryer unit in front of a foundation wall. Or to it another way, with regard to this Roosh character, I was immediately reminded of this meme:

(This isn’t to suggest the ethos this character promotes is to be laughably dismissed, since that shit is noxious and dangerous to women. He is sad and ridiculous; his ethos needs to be stomped on, hard.)

* This Roosh V nonsense washed up on my particular shore because more than a year ago the dude wrote a piece suggesting that maybe rape should be allowed on private property, and then apparently a couple of days ago appended a “THIS IS SATIRE DUH” notation on it when the media started referring to him as pro-rape, and he realized that his publicity master plan doesn’t do him any good when he’s referred to as “Pro-rape jackass Roosh V,” or some variation thereof, in headlines. As justification for his “satire” some of his useful idiots unearthed this piece of mine from 2012, which is indeed satire and on the subject of rape, and whined about why it was that I got to get away with my piece, and not this Roosh fellow.

Well, since the question has been asked:

1. It helps to note for those who might not be clear that the piece is satire, that it is satire, which I did, in the very first comment to the piece, before anyone had actually read it, rather than to, oh, wait a year to append the notation on the piece, long after it had found an audience, and after the media has latched on to it as representative of your views.

2. It also helps when your “satire” does not closely correlate to virtual reams of text you’ve produced as a “pick up artist” guru, suggesting in no uncertain terms that you think “no” means something other than “no” and encouraging others to model that sort of thinking, which would suggest to people that the “satirical” piece is actually representative of your views. Jonathan Swift did not espouse the efficacy of cannibalism generally; likewise I do not promote the ethos of “no means keep going” when it comes to sex.

3. With the two points noted above, announcing suddenly that something that has become inconvenient to you is now satire, duh, is a poor argument for it being so, especially if it’s been pulling freight to one’s audience as something else for the better part of a year. If you think it works this way, this is evidence that you may subscribe to the idea that life is like a card game, and that if, for example, you can lay down the “satire” card, it will totally negate the “accusation of pro-rape” card your opponent has played and give you a +3 Aggrieved Self-Righteousness bonus against further attacks. When you’re a grown-up, you learn that’s not how life actually works. This may be why this particular master of PUA (which tries to gamify human interactions) lives in a parental basement.

Now, despite the early notation of my piece being satire and complete textual lack of me as a person supporting the ethos in the satirical piece, some MRA/PUA types like to assert that the piece is evidence I have confessed to being a rapist. So the irony of the same sort of people simultaneously suggesting that it’s evidence that this Roosh character piece should be treated as satire, is, well. Substantial. Make up your mind, children.

* To end on a better note, Amanda Palmer and Jherek Bischoff have a new EP of Bowie covers, and it’s pretty good. I’m particularly fond of their “Ashes to Ashes” cover. Here you go. Enjoy (and buy if you like it; a portion of it will go to cancer research).

 

The Big Idea: Marshall Ryan Maresca

Super heroes are a trope, and fantasy novels are a trope too. So what happens when these tropes collide? Ask Marshall Ryan Maresca — he knows, and The Alchemy of Chaos is the latest installment of just such a mashup.

MARSHALL RYAN MARESCA:

I’m a total super-hero junkie. I have a steamer trunk in my garage filled with the comics of my teenage years. My favorite shows on television right now are Flash and Arrow. Superheroes are in my blood. That my first novel took the shape of a superhero origin story shouldn’t have been a surprise to me.

But when I first started The Thorn of Dentonhill, I wasn’t planning on writing a superhero book. I was writing a fantasy novel about a magic-student who had a secret life tied to the city’s street gangs and drug trade, fighting his own private war against a drug lord.  It took a while before it was clear to me exactly what The Thorn of Dentonhill was. Boiled down to the High Concept Elevator Pitch: Veranix Calbert is a magic student by day, street vigilante by night. Harry Potter as Spider-man.

The Thorn of Dentonhill was the origin story. Veranix started out harassing a drug lord– Fenmere– for entirely personal reasons.  Trying to disrupt a drug shipment, he ends up stealing two magic items. He decides to use in his fight and becomes “The Thorn”– folk hero for the neighborhood, a symbol to everyone who wants to stand up to Fenmere. He gets Great Power.

When I sat down to write The Alchemy of Chaos, I had fully embraced the kind of story I was telling. It’s a pulpy, action-packed fantasy novel, but it is still a superhero story. More importantly, it’s a superhero sequel.  The Alchemy of Chaos is about what it now means for him to be The Thorn. What he needs to do, what he wants to do, and what doing that could cost him. He deals with the Great Responsibility part of the equation.

So I threw everything I had at him.

Veranix is already overburdened from the start. He’s got several exams, as well as assisting on a special project that he is supposed to be devoting all his free time to. He shouldn’t even be going out as The Thorn, but the drug trade is creeping into the neighborhood he swore to protect.

Then come the pranks. Disturbing magical pranks that start as obnoxious and escalate to dangerous. The first prank affects hits Vernix’s dorm, so he’s immediately engaged. But given everything he already has on his plate, he has to ask himself: Is this his problem? Should it be his problem? Shouldn’t he just trust that someone else, someone official, will take care of it?

Of course he’s not going to trust that. No one puts on a cape (or in this case, a magical cloak) because they think that someone else ought to take care of the problem. They do it because they think they have to, that they’re the only one that can.

So Veranix is juggling as much as he possibly can: exams, special project, stop the drug trade from crossing over and figure out who this prankster is and stop them before the tricks turn deadly— and the small matter of the assassins that Fenmere hired.

This would be a terrible time for someone to figure out his secret identity, wouldn’t it? Especially the strident science student who is at the top of Veranix’s list of suspects.

Fortunately, Veranix does not have to face it alone. Harry has Ron and Hermione, Barry has Caitlin and Cisco, and Veranix has Kaiana and Delmin. They’re the ones who keep his head on straight, distract people so he can slip away, patch him up when he gets beat up, and remind him what he’s supposed to be doing. Of course, Kaiana and Delmin have a very different idea what Veranix is supposed to be doing. Veranix’s real problem is that they’re both right. He’s got to deal with all of it: magic, science, action, exams, assassins, street gangs, and fancy dinners. He’s got to take all that havoc and try to craft it into something that will not only keep him alive, but still in school.

That’s the Alchemy of Chaos.

—-

The Alchemy of Chaos: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow him on Twitter.

 

In Case You Have Not Yet Gotten Your Recommended Daily Allowance of Kittens From the Internet Today

There you go, all caught up now. You’re welcome.

Plus, a dog! You know, as an extra. You’re welcome again!

What The Hell, February

At the moment it’s 51 degrees here in Bradford, and expected to hit 54 as a high, which, I would note, is twenty degrees higher than the average temperature here for February 3rd. And while we again remind ourselves that weather is not climate, plus El Nino, I am nevertheless reminded that we had no snow in December and only a few genuinely cold days in January, and that while we might get to freezing daytime temperatures tomorrow, after that it’s all 40s until well into next week. February is generally one of our snowiest months around here, but this year, snow-wise, it looks like it will be a real bust.

Which, again, as someone who spent his childhood in Los Angeles, is fine with me! I went outside and took this picture in a t-shirt and bare feet! How awesome is that! And yet, the description I’d use for the winter is uncanny. There ought to be snow in February in Bradford, Ohio, or at least cold. 51 is not cold. It’s barely cool. On one level I like it. On another it’s unsettling. And it does make me wonder what the rest of 2016 is going to be like, weatherwise. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

The Big Idea: J. Kathleen Cheney

And now, from J. Kathleen Cheney, a very touching Big Idea about her new novel, Dreaming Death. As you read the Big Idea, you’ll realize I’ve just made a horrible pun. And I’m sorry. I’m a terrible person. But you should read the piece anyway, because it’s super interesting.

J. KATHLEEN CHENEY:

What happens when someone becomes overly sensitized to touch? That’s what my main character in Dreaming Death endures.

My original idea for this came from a late 1980s Glamour magazine that had a snippet in it about a scientific study that linked pale eyes and shyness. What the study actually claimed was that there was a correlation between pale eyes and ease of over-stimulation. And that got me thinking about my characters’ senses, and what it was like to sense too much.

We frequently see expanded senses in superhero stories: Superman and his x-ray vision, Wolverine and his excellent sense of smell, or Daredevil’s hearing. But we don’t often explore the superhero with an overdeveloped sense of touch.

The sense of touch is a curious thing. The skin is essentially one organ, but not every part of it senses at the same level. Science classes sometimes conduct an experiment where students measure skin’s responsiveness (usually by sticking each other with pins) to create a sensory homunculus. If you look this up online, you’ll see an unappetizing series of drawings and models that show distorted figures with huge hands and lips and tongues, because those are the areas of the skin that are most sensitive to touch.

So when I thought about my character, Shironne, I tried to apply what I knew about the sense of touch and extrapolate what it might be like to endure extreme sensitivity every day.

She feels every speck of dirt she touches, especially with her hands and feet. Her lips and tongue are more sensitive areas, so she’s aware of every impurity in her water and her food. Her face is sensitive, so a dirty breeze smacks her with smoke and fine dust and mist and spit from the man who’s walking past and talking. When her clothes are washed, particles of…well, everything…transfer from one part of her clothing to all the others via the water. Horse manure that got on her hem the day before spreads to her tunic sleeves, and she knows exactly what’s touching her skin. All day long.

(For those of you who are now cringing under your desks and rubbing yourself down with Clorox wipes, I apologize. A lot of people prefer not to think about this kind of thing.)

I can only imagine that an overdeveloped sense of touch would be awful. So until my heroine learned to ignore some stimuli in favor of others, her life would be a horrible and confusing cacophony of signals, some too terrible to contemplate. It’s certainly not a superpower I would want for myself.

I did my best to be aware of it in every scene. This is a curse Shironne has to live with for the rest of her life. She’ll eventually become acclimatized to some stimuli, and learn to set that input aside, like those of us who sleep through our alarm clocks. But I have to admit, I also fudged from time to time, just to keep readers from applying the Clorox wipes to the page.

Hopefully, I struck an acceptable balance.

—-

Dreaming Death: Amazon ǀ Barnes and Noble ǀ IndieBound ǀ Powells

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow her on Twitter.

The Worldwide Distribution of Scalzis

A website named Forebears.io claims to know the number of people who share one’s surname and their distribution worldwide (presumably via publicly available census materials), so I figured, what the heck, I would plug “Scalzi” in there and see what happened.

What happened: If the information on the site is at all reasonably accurate, then there aren’t a whole lot of Scalzis out there — just over 2,000 worldwide, just under half of them (somewhat logically) in Italy, with the US in second place with just over 700 (as a contrast, there are over four million people with the surname of “Smith” worldwide). There are more than four times as many people named “Scalzo” out there. “Scalzi” is, according to this Web site, the 175,162nd most common name in the world.

This doesn’t really tell me anything that I didn’t already know, i.e., that there aren’t a whole lot of Scalzis in the world. I knew that because outside of my extended family I only know of relatively few Scalzis, particularly here in the US, although of course of those there are, the Internet makes them easier to find. Hi, guys!

It also explains why, for all intents and purposes, I am the Scalzi online, which is to say that I’m all over the search engine results for the name. It’s not that I’m all that amazing; it’s that the field of other players with the name is limited. I mean, I’ll take it; I like being very easy to find on Google. But it’s a case of being a big Internet fish in a small online pond. I do once again apologize to all the other Scalzis out there. Sorry for hogging the bandwidth on the name.

Interestingly, my wife’s previous last name, Blauser, is even less common than Scalzi, worldwide, although it has nearly 100 more people using it in the US than Scalzi has. What can I say? We’re uncommon people.

The Big Idea: Faith Hunter

For today’s Big Idea, and for her book Blood in Her Veins, author Faith Hunter gets under the skin of her main character, and reveals why that character is often of two mind about many things.

FAITH HUNTER:

Big Ideas are exciting and scary and sometimes dangerous. So, of course, I dare, perhaps far too often, in life and in writing. In life, it’s whitewater kayaking. In writing, I dared to create a series about a character who has two souls and two distinct voices.

Mind you, to me, voice is one of the most important things in writing. Together, authorial voice and character voice create and support so many of the other elements of writing—from tone, to atmosphere, to point of view, and even to character development. Two different voices meant two different … everything. Two different character arcs, two different reactions to conflict, two different thought processes, two different worldviews and two points of view. My two voices weren’t even the same species—the character I envisioned was a human with a mountain lion soul intertwined with hers.

My human character is Jane Yellowrock. She’s a Cherokee skinwalker (the version from the oldest pre-European, Eastern Cherokee, storylines). My fictional take on the old tales made her a being able to assume the shape and form of any animal for which she has sufficient genetic material, always keeping in mind the law of conservation of mass/matter and the peculiarities of genetics. This means that Jane’s magic is best suited to creatures of her own size/mass and gender. I like the physics and the genetics of my magic systems to feel internally consistent.

An orphan, raised in a Christian children’s home, with all the guilt, remorse, sexual hang-ups, and self-reproach that come with that, Jane starts out as a hunter of insane vampires—vamps who attack and kill humans. The series opens with her taking a job for the Master of the City of New Orleans, an apex predator blood-sucker with no hang-ups at all.

My mountain lion character is Beast, a contrary, opinionated cat (also an apex predator, like Jane’s new boss), who has very specific likes and dislikes. She loves hunting and a fresh kill, tolerates thawed steak—raw—and hates cooked meat. She loves lying on a rock in the sun, wants to hunt alligator the moment Jane and she arrive in Louisiana, finds vampires enticing, and likes nothing better than for Jane to go on long rides on her Harley, Bitsa, so she can take in the smells and claim territory, even if just temporarily. She also has strong feelings about Jane’s love life and what kind of person Jane should choose as mate. Beast is feisty, determined, and a killer, without the conscience, contrition, or self-reproach of her human-ish host. Even when she’s in human form, Jane can feel/hear Beast’s opinions, and she both battles and embraces them.

The way these two characters came together is revealed over the course of the series, beginning with a mountain lion attack in 1839. Jane was five years old at the time, but in that fight for her life, she accidentally worked black magic. She stole both the body and soul of the puma who attacked her, and inhabited the big-cat body for two hundred years, her magic keeping them alive far longer than the usual life-span of a Puma concolor. When Jane finally became human again, Beast was trapped within her. And those two diverse voices are what, I think, has given the Jane Yellowrock series an original tone and an audience that is still growing.

One of the ways I dealt with the two character voices in the first book, SKINWALKER, was to mention Beast—but not let her speak, as a separate character, until page twenty-six. Even then, Beast was permitted only one word. Hungry. And that, only moments before Jane shifted into her Beast form for the first time on the page.

When I write in Beast’s voice, she’s an animal who perceives the world the way a young cat might. Sounds are more penetrating, scents are heightened and powerful, colors and the intensity of light are totally different. Beast can’t see the color red. Jane can’t see in the dark as well as her Beast. Jane would describe a vampire as too pale, too demanding, too dangerous to the public, and a pain in the butt. Beast would describe the same vamp as tasty, a good choice as mate, and a good hunter of prey. Jane would say that blood is red. Beast would say that blood smells good-to-eat.

But I can never forget that they’re in the same body, experiencing the same things, no matter who is at the forefront of their consciousness, and whether they are in human or cat form. Over the series there has been an organic evolution where Jane becomes more like a mountain lion and Beast becomes more like a human. They’ve been broken and shattered in the same way and have drawn strength from each other. And in those moments where they come together and depend on each other, the two distinct voices I have worked to create swap DNA and become the same voice or a hybrid voice. I must admit, that was something I did not expect!

In the course of the now New York Times bestselling series (the tenth book, Shadow Rites, will be published in April), there’s been an emergence of different camps of my readers. Yes, Beast has her own fans, which pleases her enormously. She also has her own point-of-view stories in my nineteen story collection, Blood in Her Veins, on sale today.

I’ve been writing for many years, under various names, and Jane/Beast is the character, bar none, who challenges the writer in me most. Jane / Beast are unpredictable, demanding, playful, and hunters of prey, each in their way and own voices. They are, for me, the Big Idea.

—-

Blood in Her Veins: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Visit the series page. Visit the author’s blog. Follow her on Twitter.

In Today’s Edition of Scalzi Buys Art: “Oscillations” by Johnna Y. Klukas

Last month I was the author guest of honor at the Arisia convention, and Johnna Y. Klukas was the artist guest of honor. She works primarily with wood, and had brought a number of pieces to the convention to show off as examples of her work, and to sell. One piece I had admired, and which my eye kept coming back to, was one called “Oscillations.” The piece was up for sale and I didn’t want to deprive any Arisia attendee of the opportunity to purchase it for themselves, so I didn’t put in an offer. But then it was Sunday and they were about to pack it up, so I said, “Hey, that one? I’ll totally buy it.”

And I did! And now here it is at my house, and I think it’s lovely. And so does Krissy, which is a good thing, because it’s not small, and now she has to find a place for it in our house.

In any event, I wanted to show off my new acquisition, so look: Here it is. And if you like it, here’s Johnna Klukas’ Web site, with other pieces she has done. Well worth the look, and I’m sure you can check with her to see what she has available for sale.

The End of All Things on the 2015 Locus Recommended Reading List

In the category of science fiction novels, naturally enough, alongside excellent novels by folks like Paolo Bacigalupi, James Cambias, Ann Leckie, Cixin Liu, Nnedi Okorafor, Adam Roberts, Justina Robson, Michael Swanwick and Catherynne Valente among others. Then there are the fantasy novels, first novels and all the other short fiction and non-fiction categories.

It’s an impressive list of worthy reading, and you can see the whole thing here.

It’s also a fine place to look for things to consider for awards; I would particularly suggest the non-fiction and art books categories for the Best Related Work category of the Hugo Awards. There’s some good stuff there, and the Best Related Work category, I think, is a category that’s particularly susceptible to mischief, in terms of nominations.

(Another reminder that I am myself sitting out the year in terms of award consideration. Nominate other people and works, please!)

Super pleased TEoAT made this year’s recommended reading list, and even more pleased to be in the company of excellent writers, not only in my own category, but in the list in general. Congratulations, everyone.

The Scamperbeasts Rule

The Scamperbeasts Twitter account passed the 5,000 followers milestone today, which is a nice round number considering it’s only been around for a little over three weeks. People love kittens.

In commemoration of this achievement, and also for the betterment of the Twitter experience in general, I made the following announcement:

Because, you know what? If you’re going to be the sort of jackass whose idea of a fun time is to troll and/or insult me on Twitter, I think it’s entirely fair for me to introduce a filtering process, dictating whether or not you rate any of my attention at all, involving kittens.

Why the somewhat arbitrary choice of using my kittens’ Twitter follower number as the filtering criterion?

1. Why not? It’s not like Twitter trolls/assholes deserve more consideration than that;

2. Because it amuses me to say to myself, as I mute these twits forever, “Come back when you’re not thoroughly trounced by kittens.”

(Not that I will unmute them if they do get more followers than my kittens, mind you. It’s totally meant as a dismissive statement.)

Formally codifying this into The Scamperbeasts Rule: 

If a Twitter troll/jerk has fewer followers than the @scamperbeasts Twitter account, do not engage; ignore and mute/block. 

My adopting this new Scamperbeasts Rule means that roughly 99+% of all possible Twitter trolls/jerks fall into the automatic “ignore and mute” category, as the Scamperbeats have more followers now than more than 99% of all Twitter users. Which is useful because honestly I’m tempted to snark at these jerks before I mute them forever. As enjoyable for me as that can be, it ends up taking brain cycles more profitably used in other endeavors. The Scamperbeasts Rule is a time management tool for me, basically.

(And what will I do with the would-be trolls who do have more followers than my kittens? My plan is to condescend to them once and then mute them, and bask in the knowledge that they are henceforth wasting their time only, trolling into a blank wall.)

Now, The Scamperbeasts Rule will not necessarily work for everyone, but if you do think it could work for you, I heartily encourage you to employ it. Just the pleasure or looking at someone spewing bullshit at you and thinking sorry, you’ve been bested by cats before you consign them into oblivion is reason enough to use it. I’m looking forward to it being my own standard practice.