High Gear

I say stuff like this from time to time and then promptly ignore it; neverthless, here I go again:

I’m to the point where I need to ramp up writing production on The Last Colony, which is the third book in the “Old Man” sequence, which means that there may be a corresponding reduction in output here for a while. I think it’s a good thing to post daily, but you may find the entries shorter for a while. Now again, having said that, I’m sure I’ll ignore it entirely and write novel-length entries because I’m just that stupid. But I like covering my bases. If you do notice I seem to be writing short over the next several weeks, well, now you know why.


Athena At Bat

Athena’s doing pretty well on her baseball team; she catches and throws pretty well and is good at the plate. She can switch-hit, which I suspect will be useful one day, although less so at the moment: she’s playing coach-pitch baseball, so it’s not like they’re really trying to get it past her. Still, not a bad skill to have and develop.


Androids and Zombies

A couple of things to get you through Friday:

First, wondering what the cover of my next novel will look like? Wonder no more:

No, that’s not the actual book the cover’s wrapped around; it’s on the SFBC version of The Ghost Brigades. The actual book for The Android’s Dream is still several months away (although, of course, you can pre-order it now).

I like this cover. It’s got sheep!

Second, Jonathan Coulton cracks me the hell up. “Re: Your Brains” is a great song that combines all the brain-freezing terror of a zombie attack with the mind-numbing banality of a conference call. You can’t go wrong, here. You just can’t. (If you can’t get the “listen to this” button to work on that page, you can probably get it work here.) Buy some of his mp3s, why don’t you.


10 Things Teenage Writers Should Know About Writing

Dear Teenage Writers:

Hi there. I was once a teenage writer like you (see goofy picture to the right), although that was so long ago that between now and then, I could have been a teenager all over again. Nevertheless, recently I’ve been thinking about offering some thoughts and advice on being a teenage writer, based on my own experiences of being one, and on my experiences of being a teenage writer who kept being a writer when he grew up. So here are some of those thoughts, for your consideration.

I’m going to talk to you about writing as straight as I can; there’s a possibility that some of what I say to you might come off as abrupt and condescending. I apologize in advance for that, but you should know that I sometimes come off as abrupt and condescending toward everyone, i.e., it’s not just you. Also, I hope you don’t mind if I don’t go out of my way to use current slang and such; there’s very little more pathetic than a 36-year-old man dropping slang to prove he’s hip to the kids. I own a minivan and the complete works of Journey; honestly, from the point of view of being cool, I might as well be dead. You might find what I have to say useful anyway. Here we go.

1. The Bad News: Right Now, Your Writing Sucks.

It’s nothing personal. When I was a teenager, my writing sucked, too. If you don’t believe me, check these out: A short story I wrote in high school, and (God help us all) the lyrics to a prog-rock concept album I wrote in my first year of college. Yeah, they suck pretty bad. But at the time, I thought they were pretty good. More to the point, at the time they were also the best I could do. No doubt you are also pounding out stories and songs to the best of your ability… and chances are pretty good that your best, objectively speaking, isn’t all that good.

There are reasons for this.

a) You’re really young. Being young is good for many things, like being flexible, staying up for days with no ill effects, not having saggy bits, and having hair. For writing deathless, original prose, not so much. Most teenagers lack the experiential vocabulary and grammar for writing well; you lack a certain amount of perspective and wisdom, which is gained through time. In short: You haven’t yet developed your true writing voice.

Now, if you’re really good, you can fake perspective and wisdom, and with it a voice, which is almost as good as having the real thing. But usually, sooner or later, it’ll catch up to you and your lack of experience will show in your writing. This will particularly be the case when you have a compelling, emotional story, which would require the sort of control and delivery of your writing that you only get through time. You may simply not have the wherewithal to express your very important story well. Yes, having a great story you’re not equipped to tell pretty much bites. Normally, this is when teens look for help from the writers they admire, which brings us to the next reason your writing sucks:

b) You’re besotted by your influences. If you look at those two pieces I linked you to earlier, they rather heavily bear the mark of people like whom I wanted to write — humorist James Thurber in the case of the short story, and Pink Floyd lyricist Roger Waters in the case of the would-be concept album. If I were to subject you to other writing of mine from the time (and I won’t), you’d see the rather heavy influence of other favorite authors and lyricists, including Robert Heinlein, Dorothy Parker, HL Mencken, P.J. O’Rourke, Bono, Martin Gore and Robert Smith. Why? Because I thought these people wrote really, really well, and I wanted to write like them.

You are not likely to have my influences, but you almost certainly have influences of some sort, who you love and to whom you look as models and teachers. But since you’re young and haven’t gotten your own voice worked out, you’re likely to get swamped by your influences. My concept album lyrics aren’t just bad because they’re the work of an immature writer, but also because it’s clear to anyone who cares to look that I was listening to whole hell of a lot of Pink Floyd when I was writing them. Extracting Roger Waters out of those lyrics would require radical surgery. The patient would not likely survive. That’s bad.

c) When you’re young, it’s easier to be clever than to be good. Now, when you’re older, it’s easier to be clever than to be good too, and you’ll see a lot of writers doing just that, even the good ones. This is because “clever” gets laughs and attention and possibly sex (or at least flirting) with that hot little thing over there who thinks you’re so damn amusing. And none of that ever gets old. So this is not just a teenage problem. Where teenage writers are at a disadvantage is that you’re not always aware when you’re genuinely being good, or merely being clever. It’s that whole lack of experience thing. Yes, the lack of experience thing crops up a whole lot. What are you going to do.

There’s nothing wrong with being clever, and it’s possible to be clever and good at the same time. But you need to know when clever is not always the best solution. Even older writers find this a tough nut to crack, and you’ll find it even more so.

(Update, 6/18/07: I’ve noticed that in the comment thread, quite a few folks seem to stop reading right about here in order to post messages complaining about how I said that teen writing sucks. If you’re about to be one of them, let me suggest two things. One, read the rest of the article first, particularly the next point. Two, read this, which covers most of the major complaints people have had about this assertion. If these do not address your particular complaints, then by all means leave a comment. Otherwise, don’t, because my response will be to refer you to one or the other. Thanks. Now, back to our regularly scheduled entry.)

So those are some of the reasons your writing sucks right now. There may be others. But, now having told you that your writing sucks and why, you’re ready to hear the next point:

2. The Good News: It’s Okay That Your Writing Sucks Right Now.

Because, look. Everyone’s writing sucked when they were teenagers. Why? Simple: Because they were just starting out. Just like you are now.

Writing is tricky thing, because everyone assumes that the act of writing to move and amuse people with words is somehow only slightly more difficult than the act of writing to place words into vaguely coherent sentences. This is like saying that playing professional baseball is only slightly more difficult than hitting a beach ball with a stick. Most everyone can hit a beach ball with a stick, but very few people would think that means they’re ready to play in the World Series. Given that, it’s funny that people think that they’re going to be really excellent writers from the first time they try to tell a story with the written word.

Excepting the freaks of nature, which very few of us are, anything we decide to do takes us time to get good at. It’s just that simple. The figure I hear a lot — and which I agree with, mostly — is that it takes about a decade for people to get truly good at and creative with their craft. The prime example of this is the Beatles; at 17 John Lennon and Paul McCartney were beginning their musical collaboration together, and ten years later they were writing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The “ten years” thing is a guideline, not a rule — some people hit their stride earlier, some later, but the point is that there was work involved. This is even true of the people you’ve never heard of before — scratch most “overnight sensations” in whatever field and you’ll find they did their time outside the spotlight.

Understandably, no one wants to hear that you’ve got to wait the better part of a decade to hit your stride — who doesn’t want to be brilliant now? — but I think that’s looking at it the wrong way. Knowing you’ve got years to grow and learn means you’ve got the time to take risks and explore and figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. It’s permission to play with your muse, not stress out if every single thing you bang out is not flat dead brilliant. It’s time to gain the life experience that will feed your writing. It’s time you need to write — and time you need to not write and to give your brain a break. It’s the time you need to learn from your literary influences, and then to tell them to piss off because you’ve got your own voice and it’s not theirs. And it’s the time you need to screw up, make mistakes, learn from them and move on.

The fact that your writing sucks now only means that your writing sucks right now. If you keep working on it it’ll very likely get better… and then comes the day that you write something that really doesn’t suck. You’ll know it when it happens and then you’ll get why all that time banging out stuff that sucked was worth it: because it’s made you a writer who doesn’t suck anymore.

So don’t worry that your writing sucks right now. “Suck” is a correctible phenomenon.

3. You Need to Write Every Day.

I’m sure you’ve got this wired, and I’ll note that for teenagers today, it’s easier to write every day, because there’s an entire social structure revolving around writing that didn’t used to exist: Blogs and blog-like things like MySpace, or whatever thing has replaced MySpace by the time you read this. Writing isn’t the isolating experience it (mostly) was before.

Now, be aware that writing in your blog or journal isn’t the same as writing stories or songs or whatever your writing aspirations might be. Blogging very often takes the form of what writers call “cat vacuuming,” which is to say it’s an activity you do to avoid actual writing. You want to avoid doing too much of that (yes, there’s some irony in me writing this in a blog entry — particularly a blog entry being written when I could be writing part of a book I have due to a publisher).

“Cat vacuuming” though writing in a blog may be, any sort of daily writing will help build the mental muscle memory of sitting down to put your thoughts into words, and that’s not a bad thing. So write something today. Now is good.

4. I’m Not Going to Tell You to Get Good Grades, But, You Know, Try To Pay Attention.

High school is often asinine and lame — I’m not telling you anything you don’t know here — but on the other hand it’s a place where you’re actually encouraged to do two things that are a writer’s bread and butter: to observe and to comment. Provided your teachers are not entirely defeated drones who have bought into the idea that their sole purpose is to detain you in soul-numbing classes so you and your fellow students won’t set fire to the school with them in it, they will actually be pleased if you ask a few pointed questions now and then, and as a result, you might learn something, which is always a nice bonus for your day. School is a resource; use it.

(Also, for the love of all that is holy, please please please pay attention in your English composition class. You should know English language grammar for roughly the same reason you should know road rules before you go driving: It avoids nasty pile-ups later.)

Being writers, I don’t need to tell you that observing your fellow students is also hours and hours of fun, but don’t just look for the purposes of wry mockery. Any jerk can do that. Work on your empathy — try to understand why people are the way they are. This will achieve two things. One, it’s a good exercise for you to help you one day create characters in your writing who are not merely slightly warped versions of you. Two, it’ll make you realize there’s more to life than wry mockery.

5. Read Everything You Can Get Your Hands On — Even the Crap That Bores You.

And here’s why the crap that bores you is worth reading: Because someone sold it, which means the writer did something right. Your job is to figure out what it was and what that means for your own writing. It should also give you hope: If this bad writer can sell a book or magazine article, then you should have no problem, right? Excellent.

This suggestion is actually more difficult to follow than you might think. People like to read what they like, and don’t like to read what they don’t like. That’s fine if all you want to be is a reader, but if you want to be a writer, you don’t have the luxury of just sticking to the stuff that merely entertains you. Writing that’s not working for you is still working for someone; take a look and see if you can find out why. Alternately, pinpoint why it doesn’t work. Fact is, you can learn as much from writers you don’t like as you can from writers you do — and possibly more, because you’re not cutting them slack, like you would your favorite writers.

A corollary to this is: Read writers who are new to you. Don’t just stick to the few writers you know you like. Take a few chances. You don’t have to spend money to do this: Most towns have this wonderful thing called a library. We’re talking free reading here, and the publishing industry won’t crack down on you for it. Heck, we like it when you visit the library.

6. You Should Do Something Else With Your Life Than Just Write.

There are practical and philosophical reasons for this. The practical reason: Dude, writers make almost nothing most of the time. Chances are, you’re going to have a day job to support your writing habit, at least at first. So you want to be able to get a day job that doesn’t involve asking people if they want fries with that. Just something to keep in mind.

The philosophical reason: the writer who only writes isn’t actually experiencing much of life; his or her writing is going to feel inauthentic because it won’t reflect reality. You want to get actual life experience outside of being a writer, otherwise your first novel will be like every other first novel out there, which revolves around a young writer trying to figure out his life, and then sitting down to write about it. People who write books where the main character is a young, questioning writer should be shot out of a cannon into a pit filled with leeches. Don’t make us do that to you.

“Doing something else with your life,” incidentally, also includes your college major. There are people who would advise you to be English majors and then go after an MFA, but I’m not one of them (I’m a philosophy major myself — useless but interesting). The more things you know about, the more you’re able to incorporate your wide range of knowledge into your work, which means you’ll be at a competitive advantage to other writers (this will matter). You might worry that all those English majors and MFAs are learning something you really need to know, but you know what? As long as you’re writing (and reading) regularly and seriously, you’ll be fine. Writing is a practical skill as much as or even more than it is an area of study.

Now, I’m sure many of those English majors and MFAs might disagree with me, but I’ve got ten books and fifteen years of being a professional writer backing me up, so I feel pretty comfortable with my position on this.

7. Try to Learn a Little About the Publishing Industry.

If you’re going to be a writer for a living (or, if not for a living, at least to make a little money here or there), you’re going to have to sell your work, and if you’re going to sell your work, you should learn a little how the business of writing works. The more you know how the publishing industry works, the more you’ll realize how and why particular books sell and others don’t, and also what you need to do to sell your work to the right people.

This is not to say that at this point you should let this information guide you in what you write — at this point you should write what interests you, not what you think is going to make you money one day, if for no other reason that the publishing industry, like any industry, has its fads and trends. What’s going on now isn’t going to be what’s going on when you’re ready to publish. But there’s nothing wrong about knowing a little bit about the business fundamentals of the industry, if you can stomach them.

If you think you’re going to write in a specific genre (science fiction or mystery or whatever) why not learn a little about that field, too? A good place to start is by checking out author blogs, because authors are always blathering on about crap like that. Trust me. Also (quite obviously), authors are prone to offer unsolicited advice to new writers on their sites, because it makes us feel all mature and established to bloviate on the subject. And sometimes our advice is even useful.

There’s no reason to be obsessive about acquiring knowledge of the industry at this early age, but it doesn’t hurt to know; it’ll be one less thing you have to ramp up on when you’re ready to start putting stuff out there. Which reminds me:

8. Be Ready For Rejection.

It’s very likely the the first few years that you submit material to publishers and editors, or query them for articles, your work and queries are going to come back to you unbought. Why? Because that’s just how it is. I’ll give you an example: Recently I edited a science fiction magazine. For the issue of the magazine I edited, I had between 400 and 500 submissions. From those, there were about 40 I thought were good enough to buy. And of those, I bought 18. That’s a 95.5% rejection rate, and an over 50% rejection rate of stuff I wanted to buy, but couldn’t because I didn’t have the space (or the money, because I had a budget, too). Now, as it happens, for this magazine I also managed to give first sales to four writers because I wanted to make a point of finding new writers — but I imagine if you asked them how long they’d been submitting work before that sale, you’d find most of them had been doing it for a while.

There are things to know about rejection, the first of which is that it’s not about you, it’s about the work. The second is that there are any number of reasons why something gets rejected, not all of them having to do with the piece being bad — remember that I rejected a bunch of pieces I wanted to buy but couldn’t. The third is that just because a piece was rejected one place doesn’t mean it won’t get accepted somewhere else. I know that at least a couple of pieces that I rejected have since been bought at other places.

Rejection sucks, and there’s no way to get around that fact. But if you’re smart, when you start submitting you’ll consider pieces that are rejected simply as ready to go on to the next place. Keep writing and submitting.

(Which brings up the question: If you have pieces now that you want to submit, should you? Well, I’m sure submissions editors everywhere will hate me for saying this, but, sure, why not? If nothing else it’ll get you used to the rejection process, and there’s always a chance that if it is good, someone might buy it. But, on behalf of the submissions editors, I implore you not to submit unless you really think the work in question is the best you can do.)

9. Start Getting Published Now — Yes, That Means the School Newspaper.

I know, I know. But, look, you’re going to have to deal with editors sooner or later. And you know how many editors in the real world were editors of their school newspapers? A whole lot of them. Lots of writers were, too (I was editor-in-chief of both my high school and college newspaper, so that makes me a two-time loser). Basically, as a writer you’ll never be rid of these guys, so you might as well learn how they work. But also, and to be blunt, school newspapers may be piddly, but they give you clips — examples of your writing you can show to others. You can take those clips to your tiny local newspaper and maybe get a few small writing assignments there — and then you’re professionally published. And then you can take those and use them to get more serious gigs over time, and just keep trading up.

You can also also use those high school clips to help you get on your college paper, and when you’re in college, working at the college newspaper can be very useful. I used my college newspaper clips to freelance with the local indie papers in town and also with one of the major metropolitan newspapers… and those clips help me get my first job out of college, as a movie critic at a pretty large newspaper. And all of that started doing little articles for my high school newspaper, the Blue & Gold.

What does this teach us? First, that it can be worth it to deal with the high school newspaper editor, even if he or she is an insufferable dweeb, and second, that all the writing you do can matter, and help you to continue on your writing career.

10. Work on Your Zen.

Being a writer isn’t easy; it’s a lot of mental effort for often not a lot of financial reward. It takes a lot of time to get good at it — and even when you are good at it, you’ll find there’s still more you have to learn, and things you have to deal with, in order to keep going in the field. It takes a measure of patience and serenity to keep from completely losing it much of the time, and, alas, “patience” and “serenity” are two things teenagers are not known to have in great quantities (to be fair, adults aren’t much better with this). Despite that, you’ll find as a writer that there is a great advantage in keeping your head, being smart and being practical, even when everyone around you is entirely losing their minds. It helps you see things others don’t, which is an advantage in your writing, and also in the workaday aspect of being a writer.

So: Relax. Spend your time learning, observing, writing, and preparing. Don’t worry about writing the Great American Novel by age 25; don’t worry about being the Greatest Writer Ever; don’t worry about winning the Pulitzer. Focus on your writing and getting better at it. As they say, luck favors the prepared. When the moment comes, if your skills are there, you’ll be ready to take advantage of it and to become the writer you’ve been hoping you would be. Your job now is to get yourself ready for the moment.

You’ve got the time to do it. Take it.

Update: Hey, teens — before you rattle off what are some of the now standard complaints about the entry above, why not check out the follow up entry, which has me addressing some of those complaints. It’ll save you time in writing out your complaint, and save me time having to point you at the piece later. Thanks!

Update 2: A number of you have taken to asking me to read your work, or sending it unsolicited for me to read. I can’t do that, sorry. Here’s a longer explanation why.


Quick Hits, 4/26/06

Some more bits and pieces, because apparently that’s where my mind is at these days:

* Two charitable things related to books:

1. Role-playing game publisher Palladium Books has hit a rough patch due to a combination of internal malfeasance and external issues and is scrambling to stay open long enough to get itself back on its feet. To accomplish that, Palladium’s president Kevin Siembieda is offering a special collector’s edition poster, each signed and numbered, featuring characters from the Palladium Books line. That’s $50. If you feel just like chipping in a few buck, there’s also a donation button on their Web site’s front page.

I met Kevin Siembieda last year at Penguicon 3.0 when he and I were on a panel together, and he seems a good and interesting fellow. I hope he and his company make it through this scrape.

2. Kari from Inkgrrl has a friend suffering from breast cancer and is trying to help her make her ends meet by drawing attention to The Michele Fund, which features a number of author-signed books and other stuff auctioned off to pay for medical expenses. The auction items are here.

* Want to read me, Jeff VanderMeer, Cory Doctorow, Cherie Priest and other SF/F writers blather on about how we use teh Intarweebs to promote ourselves? Then you’re in luck: Here’s a Publishers Weekly article on the subject.

* Cartoonist and columnist Tom Tomorrow weighs in on the Kaavya Viswanathan thing, and wonders just how much the “book packager” who worked with Viswanathan on the book is responsible for the mess that’s now unfolding. More than one person I know who has knowledge of book packagers suggests it’s entirely possible the packager in this case is letting Viswanathan take all the flak even if it’s they who are partially or primarily responsible. I don’t know anything about that one way or another, but if it were the case, using a 19-year-old writer as a bullet shield is not a very ethical thing to do.

One salutary thing about this particular scandal is that it might make authors and readers more aware of who book packagers are and what they do. My own personal experience with book packagers has been quite positive: my Book of the Dumb books were produced under book packaging circumstances, as the copyright page in the book will suggest to astute observers, and I was both treated more than fairly and had a ball writing the books. So I wouldn’t suggest that all book packagers are evil. But some may indeed be more slippery than others, and it’s worth asking how slippery the packager might be in this case.

* Whatever reader Jason Bennion talks about one of the nice things about the Internet age, which is that it has the potential to make you feel “closer” to an author you like (the author in this particular case being me). I quite clearly think this is true, and I think the converse is true as well, since I am quite consciously using the Internet to establish a relationship with my readers. Among other things this includes trying to be conscientious about answering mail from readers and addressing comments here.

Mind you, it’s not a burden — I mean, gee, it’s not like it’s just awful having to read e-mails from people saying they liked your book and saying “thanks” in a quick return e-mail. In fact, one of those e-mails came in, and I responded, between that last sentence and this one. Turnaround time: About thirty seconds. It’s 30 seconds well invested. Now, it’s easy for me to do because I don’t have the e-mail volume that some substantially more popular authors have; I can’t even imagine JK Rowling’s in-box. But even more popular writers can still give that personal touch. I rather strongly suspect Neil Gaiman has more e-mail than he can answer, but his solution of putting up what amounts to a letters column with each of his blog entries still lets you know he’s engaged with his audience.

Now, Bennion rather cogently notes that although the Net allows for the feeling of intimacy, it’s not actually intimacy: “I don’t have any illusions that John and I are buddies — obviously, John Scalzi doesn’t know me from Adam, nor do I really know him, no matter how much it sometimes feels otherwise.” This is very much the case, of course. I’ve never made any bones about the fact that although I’m free and open with my opinions and points of view here, I also keep a significant part of my personal life — the vast majority of it — off the Whatever and out of the public eye; you’re seeing a public distillation of who John Scalzi is here, just as I only see whatever it is people choose to show of themselves in their comments and e-mails.

Be that as it may, the back and forth here (and on other author sites) is still a rather more egalitarian form of relationship than traditional author-audience roles; in our e-mails and comments to each other we’re talking to each other more often than anything else (I don’t think people here would let me get away with anything else anyway). This is not to say that I carry on a full conversation with everyone who e-mails — lot of my responses boil down to “Thanks! I’m glad you liked the book!” — but the informal, fast and friendly nature of the e-mail medium doesn’t create the distance that a paper letter does (or, at least, does with people of my generation).

I’m just glad I live in an era where I can respond to people almost immediately, and without having to hunt for a stamp. If I had to respond with a printed letter to everyone who sent me a letter, I never would — all that crap with stamps, and mailboxes and gaaaaah. I am, without a doubt, a writer of and for this era.


My MySpace page

I made a crack about MySpace yesterday, but it also reminded me to let all y’all know that I actually have a MySpace profile, largely so I can stream a few of my music tracks. I made it in January but pretty much forgot about it until a couple of weeks ago, when people started sending me friend requests. Then I figured I might as well build it out some. So now it’s got the streaming music and all. I don’t plan to do a whole lot on the page — the blog there just links back to here — but if you have a MySpace profile, feel free to send me a friend request. I’ll pretty much approve them all.


Connie Willis, Cheap!

In the last entry I noted I’d be doing a pimp for Subterranean Books today. And here it is, in the form of an e-mail from Subterranean publisher Bill Schafer:

“Hey there,

“We sometimes get returns from distributors, and have received back from one a healthy handful of Connie Willis’s Hugo-nominated novella INSIDE JOB in the past week or two. Here’s the deal: These copies are no longer in perfect nick. Some are slightly dinged, some have a scuffed dust jacket. So we’re offering them for $10 (plus $5 shipping), instead of the usual $35 cover price.

“If you’d like to snag a copy, order INSIDE JOB as usual at the SubPress website and mention “Dinged Inside Job” when checking out. (Your shopping cart total and automatic email confirmation won’t reflect the sale price, but don’t worry, we’ll catch it when processing your order. This offer valid until May 1, 2006. If you want to order via PayPal, do NOT use the online store. Email us at and we’ll invoice you.)”

There you have it. Also, Asimov’s has the novella online, so if you’d like to preview the story before you buy, here you go.


Quick Hits, 4/25/06

Feel like I’m running about like a madman today, which I suspect has something to do with an orthodontist appointment this morning (for Athena, not for me, and yes, everything’s fine with her mouth; we’re juts making sure it’s big enough for her grown up teeth). So some quick hits:

* Lori Jareo? She’s so last Friday. The hot writing scandal today involves Kaavya Viswanathan, the Harvard undergrad who got half a million for her novel — which on closer examination appears to have rich, meaty chunks of plagiarism in it. This caused Ms. Viswanathan to issue an apology suggesting that some near-word-for-word rips from author Megan McCafferty’s work were “unintentional and unconscious.”

Bah. Look, people. Cutting and pasting paragraphs from someone else’s book into your own and then swapping out a few words here and there as a freshening agent is not something you can blame on your subconscious, on Ambien or on alcoholic blackouts. You will remember doing it.

Having said that, I find it difficult to work up a real head of steam about this one. A teenager plucking choice passages from someone else’s work to give her own work additional resonance? That’s what happens on MySpace 13,000 times a day. Speaking from experience (believe me), teenagers are generally not terribly resonant communicators, even the clever ones, so they model and ape the words and poses of the writers they admire. I spent a large chunk of my 19th year trying to be a junior HL Mencken, and yes, it was just as painful to read as it sounds. Now, I didn’t plagiarize ol’ Henry, but then, I also didn’t have half a million dollars worth of pressure hanging over my head, either.

I’m trying to roll with the snark here, but I just keep feeling sorry for this girl instead. She could probably have used a good editor who understood that teenage writers — even the ones what go to Harvard — are special cases and need to be handled with a gentle combination of encouragement and suspicion; the former because the writer is being asked to do so much, and the latter because the writer is being asked to do so much. I have no opposition to young writers being published — when I was 19 I wanted to be published, so why would I begrudge anyone else — but were I an editor of a novelist that young I think the first thing I would do when I got the manuscript would be to quietly wash it through, and then be ready to deal with the handholding that would follow if something popped up.

* Wanna make yourself feel like a fool? Stress out like monkey in a trash compactor about an article deadline at the end of the month, and then learn the deadline is at the end of next month. Man, I want hit myself with a hammer for that one. On the other hand, if you ever need an expert on LEGO brand toys, baby, I’m your man.

* The state legislatures of Illinois and California are reportedly considering drawing up articles of impeachment against President Bush; apparently they can do so under some obscure parliamentary rule of Congress. I think this is a tremendously bad idea. Leaving aside the issue of whether Bush should be impeached or not (you can see my thoughts on that subject here, if you would like), if the states get into the whole impeachment act, there’s not a single president between now and the end of the United States who will not get impeached by some damn state legislature during the course of his or her term. There are fifty of them and only one of him. And anyway, state legislatures are where high school senior class treasurers go to die. Think about your high school senior class treasurer. You want him having a significant role in national politics? I didn’t think so. I’m hoping this thing gets nipped in the bud.

* Arrived via UPS today: Chris Roberson’s latest, Paragaea: A Planetary Romance, which is his take on the thrilling pulp science fiction stories of yore. It comes out next week, for those of you with money burning holes in your pocket. I’m a fan of his Chris’ last novel, Here, There & Everywhere, and he wrote a kick-ass story for the Subterranean Magazine issue I edited, so you can imagine I’m looking forward to cracking this one open. I’ll let you know what I think when I’m done. In the meantime, here’s Chris’ Paragaea site, which in addition to info about the book contains a complete prequel novel for your enjoyment.

* Asked in one of the comment threads:

I have noticed that you don’t run any ads on the Whatever. You are popular enough that you could probably bring in some significant revenues this way… Any reason why you have held off on this?

Yeah: I just don’t want ads on the Whatever.

There’s no major philosophical reason for this; I’m not opposed to people making money writing blogs (I do it myself). And I certainly don’t think ill of people who put ads on their sites. I just prefer not to do it here. I do suppose it’s true that I could make a tidy sum from ads at this point, but you know, I’m not exactly hurting for cash these days. If I were to lose income in a significant way and needed a way to replace it, then I might consider putting ads here, and not feel too bad about it. Baby needs shoes and all that. But at the moment I can afford not to do it. So I don’t.

Which is not to say I don’t do any sort of promotion here on the Whatever. This site is of course an advertisement for myself; I’m not shy about letting you all know when something of mine is out and about. I also cheerfully promote others; I promoted Chris Roberson in this very entry, because he’s a friend of mine and because I expect Paragaea to be a lot of fun, and therefore something worth sharing; two entries previous to this I promoted Hal Duncan’s book Vellum because I thought it was a really excellent read. Tomorrow I’ll post a note from Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press announcing a nice little deal he has on one of his books (not one of mine), because he’s one of my publishers and I don’t mind doing him a favor. But in each case, it’s not trivial that this promotion comes from me personally rather than from ad server; I’m fairly transparent in my motives and in my intent, and I try make sure it’s not all pimping, all the time.

I have given thought to creating a different site, with different content, that could run ads. I own the domains and; both of those, I think, have a number of delightful high-traffic possibilities, some of which I plan on pursuing at some point in the reasonably near future. But I expect that Whatever will remain ad-free. I like it that way, and that’s a good enough reason there.

* Final thing: Those of you wondering when my next novel will hit the stores, wonder no longer; according to Amazon, The Android’s Dream will hit the stores on October 31, 2006. I think having a book with an official release date of Halloween is super cool.


And Now, Some Marketing Coverage

There’s an article up today at Online Media Daily about how Old Man’s War initially got its momentum online, particularly through Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds championing the book (along with Cory Doctorow, Stephen Bainbridge, Eugene Volokh, and Stephen Green). Among other things, it gives the impression that getting a mention of your book on Instapundit is the blogosphere equivalent of being an Oprah pick, and you know what? It pretty much is. Glenn is the Goliath in his Army of Davids, which may cause him some pleasant cognitive dissonance.

One error to correct, however, which I figure stemmed from me being unclear: I made the comment that “In effect, Glenn hand-sold my book to 200,000 of his readers,” which the author of the piece took to mean that I’ve sold that number of books to Glenn’s readers. Glenn’s Instapundit daily readership is around that level, and I meant to imply what Glenn did was personally recommend the book to that many people. The actual sales of OMW are quite healthy, particularly for a first novel, but in fact somewhat less, at least for now. Incidentally, this is one of the very few times in your life when you will see an author publicly note he’s sold less than previously suggested. So, you know, enjoy.

Aside from that erratum (which I’ve noted to the author, so it may even be gone by the time you see this), an interesting piece.

As long as we’re mentioning errata, this SCIFI Wire piece on the Lori Jareo New Hope incident notes that the story broke here at the Whatever. I think it’s true the story sort of metastatized into a true online kerfuffle from here, but I can’t claim discovery; I got the story from Nick Mamatas, who in turn got it from Lee Goldberg, where as far as I know the story originated. Unlike the Associated Press, I believe in routinely naming my blog sources.


OMW: Locus Award Finalist

I just found out that Old Man’s War is a finalist with the 2006 Locus Awards, in the category of Best First Novel. Other nominees in this category:

Counting Heads, David Marusek
Hammered/Scardown/Worldwired, Elizabeth Bear
The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl, Tim Pratt
Vellum, Hal Duncan

Vellum, incidentally, officially debuts here in the US tomorrow — a great way for Hal Duncan to say hello to these shores, I’d say (so go buy it). And also, of course, very nice to be in the company of Messers Duncan, Pratt and Marusek and the awesome Ms. Bear — who, if I may add has a hell of a short story in the upcoming Subterranean magazine issue. They all rock.

Other nominations of note (to me, at least): All my fellow Hugo nominees are also finalists — Charlie, Ken and Bob in Best Science Fiction Novel and GRRM in Best Fantasy Novel; Cory Doctorow has three finalist showings, in Fantasy Novel, Novella and Novelette; Kelly Link is also a three-time finalist in the Short Story, Anthology and Collection categories; James Patrick Kelly gets a nod in Best Novella; Scott Westerfeld gets a Best YA Book nod for Peeps; Patrick Nielsen Hayden and David G. Hartwell are both finalists in Best Editor, and Bob Eggleton and John Picacio show up as Best Artist finalists. Aside from these are other folks like Neil Gaiman, Dan Simmons, Terry Pratchett and China Miéville (among others) whom I wish I could pretend that I actually knew personally, but, alas, don’t. Be that as it may, it’s about sixteen different kinds of cool that I can look at lists like these and see so many of my friends on them, doing as well as they are, and I somehow get to be in there too. It’s geek paradise, it is. Or it is for me.

You’ll note that everyone on these lists are “finalists” not “nominees.” This is because (as I understand it) Locus already knows who won in each of the categories but is letting the tension linger in the air until the day of the Locus Awards ceremony, which is June 17th in Seattle (paired up with the Science Fiction Hall of Fame ceremony). Coincidentally, June 17th is also my wedding anniversary. COINCIDENCE?!?! Well, yes, I just said so. But a nice coincidence, nevertheless.

In any event, congratulations to all the other finalists, but especially those in the Best First Novel category. I am honored to be in your midst.


Two Quick Self-Serving Links

One, just in case people are wondering if there are a lot fanficcers out there or not, I’ll note that according to BlogPulse, the Lori Jareo post from Friday is the #2 Top Blog Post on teh Intarweebs today. Neat.

Two, a nice review of The Ghost Brigades in the Some Fantastic critzine, which you can download from here; they call TGB “an entertaining novel that points to a continued bright future for Scalzi as an SF author of note.” Groovy. Other reviews in this edition: Orson Scott Card’s Ultimate Iron Man, Vol. 1; Stephen Jones’s The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #16; Lucius Shepard’s A Handbook of American Prayer; Lou Anders’s Futureshocks; Justina Robson’s Silver Screen; Octavia Butler’s Fledgling; Chris Roberson’s Adventure, Vol. 1; & Christopher Moore’s A Dirty Job. That’s good company.


Tea Parties in Science Fiction

The estimable Tobias Buckell, who attended and recorded the “Tea Parties in Science Fiction” panel I mentioned here, has now posted the podcast here, and offers his own commentary here. The recording is in .wav form and is about 12MB and 50 minutes long. Be aware there’s some background noise, thanks to passing traffic.

(For those of you too lazy to link back, this is a recording of a Penguicon panel that was supposed to be about “Warfare in Science Fiction” until the hotel we were at told us they were uncomfortable with discussing warfare in a somewhat open area of the hotel. So we changed all references of “war” and other war-based nouns, verbs and adjectives to “tea” and other tea-based nouns, verbs and adjectives. And then we proceeded to have a very useful and cogent discussion. Just another example of how SF people don’t like being told what to do by the clueless.)

Feel free to share and enjoy.


Copyright Squares

This fellow writes up a note about the Lori Jareo thing, and rather interestingly thinks the reason fanficcers are so outraged by what Ms. Jareo did is because they’re clueless slaves to the existing copyright paradigm. That should get a chuckle or two out of the fanficcers I know. I posted a rather lengthly response noting that what people think about the morality of current copyright law is an entirely separate conversation to the one that’s been going on here; click over to read it and to add your additional comments if you like. Play nice, of course, but I don’t need to tell you that.


Penguicon Notes

I’m back from Penguicon 4.0, where I was a “nifty guest,” and indeed I had a nifty time; it was lovely to see a bunch of Michigan friends and writer friends (and, indeed, also the writer friends who live in Michigan). I keep forgetting how close Michigan actually is to me — the convention was in Livonia, which is in the Detroit metro area, and it was only a three hour trip from my door to the door of the hotel. Considering that when I was a film critic in Fresno, I used to drive three hours to see a movie preview in San Francisco and then drive back in the same night, three hours ain’t nothin’.

I have to say I didn’t much like the hotel, however. There were a number of reasons for this, but perhaps the most interesting example came on Saturday, when I, M. Keaton, Jeff Beeler and Barbara Trumpinski-Roberts were supposed to do a panel on “Warfare in Science Fiction.” The location of the panel was in a place charmingly known as “The Pit,” a small area in the lobby where a big-screen TV usually resided (one imagines guests usually watch sports there or whatever). Just before the panel was supposed to begin, however, we were told that the hotel management was uncomfortable with us discussing warfare in the lobby area. Mind you, this is the same hotel which for the two nights on the con allowed security demonstrations in which convention members stalked the halls with semi-realistic toy guns. Apparently clearing and sweeping the third floor was allowable, but discussing spaceship warfare in the open lobby was not.

The hotel wanted us to do the panel somewhere else, but where they wanted us to do the panel was already being used by people playing games, eating lunch, and by a “stuffed animal tea party,” at which, you guessed it, a bunch of stuffed animals were having a delightful afternoon repast. So there was nowhere for us to have our panel. Writer Dave Klecha suggested that maybe we should change the panel to “Tea parties in Science Fiction” instead.

So we did. When the panel started, I as the moderator noted to the audience that the hotel was uncomfortable with us discussing warfare in an open area, so we were going to discuss tea parties instead — you know, as in those famous science fiction books The Forever Tea Party, and Starship Tea Drinkers, or my own novel, Old Man’s Tea Party. And thus, “war” became “tea party,” soldiers were “tea drinkers,” boot camp was “tea training,” firing on another soldier was “serving tea,” and clearly you wanted to serve tea before tea was served to you. If you were served tea, you didn’t die, you “went to the lavatory.” And off we went, and had a sustantive discussion of the subject, both among the panelists and with the audience.

And it was beautiful, for two reasons. One, because everyone understood what was being said and was able to roll with it; the panel was actually a panel on the subject at hand, and not just a smirky pun fest (there was a little of that, of course. Because why wouldn’t you. But it was mostly serious). Second, of course, every time we said “tea” and meant “war,” we were just pointing out the over-cautious stupidity on display by the hotel management. Which, I think, amused the panelists and the audience to a great degree. The fact that everyone involved — panelists and audience — twigged to the situation, ran with it, and had a good panel anyway gives you the idea of the intelligence and sense of humor displayed by both; Penguicon chose good panelists, and had smart, smart convention goers. Toby Buckell was in the audience and recorded the entire panel; when he puts up the recording (he says he will), I’ll post a link.

There were other issues I had with the hotel but there’s no point going into them too deeply; suffice to say I wouldn’t cry if the convention were held elsewhere next year.

Hotel issues aside, Pengicon was tons of fun. My panels aside from the tea/war one were generally very good, and among the writers and other guests at the con, I got to spend time with Toby Buckell, Karl Schroeder and family, Dave Klecha and family, Chris DiBona, Frank Hays, Howard Tayler and “The Ferret.” I was also fortunate to spend a fair amount of time chatting with author guest of honor Steve Miller and Sharon Lee, who among other things shared some great anecdotes about their own previous con experiences. They’re lovely people, and I’m glad to have been able to meet them. And of course it was lovely to see Anne KG Murphy and her husband Bill. I also had quite a lot of fun with Penguicon staff and con-goers, many of whom I’ve known for a couple of years now and consider pretty good friends, but am distressed to say I know not by their actual names but by their LiveJournal handles. It says something about LiveJournal, or at least, about me.

In any event, I had a very good time. But it’s also nice to be home. As much as I enjoy conventions, by the last day, I’m always a little strung out. So it’s good to come back to the family. And speaking of, now I’m off to spend a little time with them. Chat with you later.


The 2006 Stupidest FanFic Writer Award Gets Retired Early

Via Nick Mamatas, I learn of Lori Jareo, who has written up a Star Wars fanfic novel, published it without the expressed, written consent of George Lucas, and has it listed for sale on Amazon. Oh, but she’s not worried about the massive copyright violation; Indeed, let’s see what she has to say about it in her “author interview.”

Q: Having set Another Hope in an already existing universe, I find myself wondering if there was any concern on your part regarding copyrights?

No, because I wrote this book for myself. This is a self-published story and is not a commercial book. Yes, it is for sale on Amazon, but only my family, friends and acquaintances know it’s there.

Let me repeat this, just to savor the juicy cluelessness of it: “Yes, it’s for sale on Amazon, but only my family, friends and acquaintances know it’s there.” I feel myself getting stupider every time I read that line, but the good news is that I have a long way to go before I would be actually stupid enough to say that line myself.

For those publishing novices out there, let me, as a public service, outline all the many ways Ms. Jareo’s statement above is ill-informed and/or ignorant and/or just plain idiotic.

1. “I wrote this book for myself.” If one is writing a book for one’s self, then why would one sell it on Amazon? Unless one has clones, of course. And while that would be perfectly consistent with the fictional universe whose copyright Ms. Jareo is violating, in the real world, alas, there are no human clones to be had, much less ones who access Amazon on a regular basis. Also, if it’s for one’s self, why the Web site promoting it, complete with interviews, reviews and excerpts? Ms. Jareo ain’t exactly being all Emily Dickinson on us.

2. “This is a self-published story –“ Strangely enough, U.S. Copyright law does not say “you can’t violate someone’s copyright, unless of course you’re self-publishing, in which case it’s perfectly fine.” Also, Amazon’s publisher information has “Wordtech Communications” listed as the publisher of the book in question — Wordtech Communications being a publishing concern which claims to be “one of the nation’s largest poetry publishers.” Ms. Jareo is apparently one of the principals of the company, so I guess you could say it’s self-published, in the sense that, say, Tom Doherty could claim to be self-published if he were to write a book and have it put out by Tor.

3. “– and is not a commercial book.” Someone explain to me how selling a book on Amazon is not a commercial endeavor. It’s possible the book is not commercial in the sense that no one in their right mind would publish it, because then George Lucas’ Sith Lord lawyers would unleash their dual-bladed tortsabers on them (leading to the “self-publishing” in this particular case). But, you know, if you offer a book in exchange for money, you’re engaging in commerce, and it doesn’t really matter if you make any profit off it or not. Lot of publishers publish lots of books that make no money, or even lose money. They’re still engaging in commerce.

4. “Only my family, friends and acquaintances know it’s there.” Hello, Lori Jareo. I’d like to introduce you to my 15,000 daily readers, almost none of whom, I suspect, are your family, friends or acquaintances. Funny how the Internet has a way of being leaky.

This would be bad enough if this woman were just some clueless person letting off some Mary Sue steam and then getting the idea that, gosh, this could be a real live book, but in fact Ms. Jareo purports to be a professional editor — which is to say she really has no excuse. In her interview Ms. Jareo mentions something along the line of “George Lucas says as long as no one is making a profit, tributes are wonderful,” but I think she rather seriously misapprehends what Lucas almost certainly means here. Leaving aside the fact that even if Lucas tolerates a little geekery on the down-low, he’s still fully invested in his copyrights and can enforce them at will and at whim, there’s the issue of scale. Geeking out with little stories of Yoda and Chewbacca on the Wookiee Planet on a personal Web site that’s visited by your friends is one thing. Publishing an unauthorized Star Wars novel via your publishing company and putting it up for sale on Amazon (not to mention and is really quite another.

I’ve said before I think fanfic is generally a positive thing for any science fiction universe, but I don’t think being a fan means you suddenly have a license to be stupid. Publishing your fanfic novel and selling it online is just plain stupid, and publishing your fanfic novel and selling it online when you’re theoretically a professional editor is just about as stupid as you can get without actually receiving head trauma from a tauntaun. If Ms. Jareo is lucky, she’ll only get smacked with a Cease and Desist order from Lucas. If she’s not lucky — say, Lucas wants to provide a cautionary example to ambitious-to-the-point-of-oblivious fanficcers everywhere — she and her company are going to get their asses sued, and given the blatant and obvious and self-incriminating copyright violations here, she should be thankful if she gets out of it without all of her assets, and the assets of her publishing company, encased in carbonite.

As it stands I think it’s worth it to start a pool on how long it takes for Ms. Jareo’s book to get pulled from Amazon. I’ll say this next Monday by 3pm Pacific. Any one else want to bet?


Coffee Shop on Amazon

The Amazon listing for You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing is now up, so if you’re interested in pre-ordering through your Amazon account, now you can. The release date is sometime in the August timeframe. You can also still pre-order it via the Subterranean Press site.

This is going to be a “boutique” sort of book (i.e., fairly low press run), and the size of the press run will be to some extent gauged on early pre-orders. So if you want to be an active influencer of my immediately literary future, buy now!

(Well, not buying now will also cause you to be an active influencer of my immediately literary future, as well, I admit. Just not in a “buy Athena a college education” good sort of way. Hey, your choice.)

As an aside, the Amazon ranking for Coffee Shop at this very moment is 1,021,762 (on account that no one has bought one yet), while Old Man’s War is at 953. That’s a spread of 1,020,809 positions. I wonder if that’s the widest range between books on Amazon.

(checks something)

Hmmmm. Nope. Seems my Rough Guide to Money Online is at 1,601,456. That’s a 1,600,503-position spread! I’m an even bigger loser than before! Whoo-hoo!


A Quick Observation

Men, if you want to flummox a telemarketer, use the following words:

“I’m sorry, you’re going to have to speak to my wife. She is the one who makes all the major financial decisions in the household.”

I guarantee several seconds of silence as the telemarketer grinds his or her gears getting what passes for their brain around the concept that a man would say that his wife is the primary financial decision-maker in the house. Really, they just don’t know what to do with that sort of information. Some of them (for example, the one who called me today) try to roll with it by saying “well, sir, I understand the importance of talking to your spouse…” and then try to get back onto the script. To which I say “No, you don’t understand. She makes the decisions.” And then we’re back to stuttering and grinding. It’s really kind of fun.

Want to know the irony? Some of them actually call back and ask to speak to Krissy. And in the rare case where Krissy actually asks for them to send some more information through the mail, you know what happens? The information comes addressed to me. And then it goes right into the trash, because if these people can’t manage to address the person who makes the financial decisions, even after they’ve been told, why would we trust them to do anything right?

Anyway, endless fun. Try it sometime!


Penguicon 4.0 Schedule

Tomorrow I’m off to Penguicon 4.0, that mash up of science fiction and open source, in convention form. For those who are going, or are not going but just like to know what I’m doing at all times, here’s my panel schedule:

No events scheduled. Which, you know, is groovy with me.


1:00 pm
Steve Miller, Karl Schroeder, Nancy Atwell, John Scalzi
Some worlds you believe in, and some interfere with the story. How to build and portray your fictional world.

4:00 pm
Warfare in SF
Jeff Beeler, John Scalzi, Barbara Trumpinski-Roberts
Which authors, past and present, do the best job of looking at warfare in a science fiction context? What’s most important: that it is convincing, that it is plausible, or something else entirely?

8:00 pm
Why Didn’t Science Fiction Predict That?
Frank Hayes, Karl Schroeder, John Scalzi
SF predicted moon colonies by 2001 and computers so big they’d mostly exist in hyperspace. That wrongheadedness has something to say about predictions we’re making today. And why DIDN’T SF predict Frogurt instead of yeast cigarettes, anyhow?


11:00 am
Blogging for Life
The Ferrett, John Scalzi, David Klecha
News pages. Online journals. Web logs. A lot of people are using them. What are the tools available, and what are the best ways to use them?

12:00 pm
Best SF Books of 2005
Jeff Beeler, John Scalzi, Tobias Buckell, Karl Schroeder
What were the outstanding works of 2005? What are the titles to look for, and who are the authors to watch?

The rest of the time I’m sure to be floating about, so if you see me, feel free to come over and say hello or whatever.


Agent to the Stars is Dead; Long Live Agent to the Stars!

This day had to come — and it has: Subterranean Press has officially declared its run of Agent to the Stars out of print, on account of selling them all. Amazon has not yet put up its “only x copies left” sign, so it may be that they have a few more in stock, so if you want to get this edition of the book, you really really really really need to do it right now. Really, no kidding.

Authors are not usually pleased about their work going out of print less than a year after they’re published, but in this case I’m willing to make an exception. I like the idea that we’ve sold 1,500 of these babies, and almost purely online, since only a few copies made their way into brick and mortar stores (and then only at SF specialty stores and booksellers who sold at SF cons). This version of A2S has been a real unexpected success story for me; less surprising for Subterranean, I think, because Bill Schafer over there knows his business exceptionally well. It’s been a real pleasure working with him and Subterranean with this book, and should you ever be in the market for a hyper-competent smaller press, you know where I think you should go.

If you’ve missed out on this edition and wanted the book in print, well, there’s good news, and there’s news that, while not bad, is possibly less good.

The good news: I’ve signed with Tor Books — you’ve heard of them — to produce another print edition of Agent to the Stars.

The news that, while not bad, is possibly less good: Given how many things I’ve got going with Tor right now, the earliest this next edition of A2S will see the bookstore shelves is probably sometime in 2008. So while another print edition is on the way, uh, it’s going to be a while, folks.

Normally, waiting two years or more for the publication of a book is not something an author wants, of course. But given that I’ll be popping out three other books for Tor between now and then, I can hardly complain. So I won’t. These are the problems that as an author you want to have. Anyway, Agent will live again! Eventually. Huzzah!

But if you don’t want to wait at least two years for your own copy, run run run to Amazon. Who knows how long these last few Subterranean Press copies will last.


Birthday Thanks

Krissy, about to perform atrocities on a poor defenseless birthday cake. For those of you who have not met her, this is also the look you get when you displease her. Don’t make Krissy angry. You wouldn’t like it when she’s angry.

Krissy, however, did wish to extend a “thank you” to everyone who wished her happy birthday; she was delighted by your birthday greetings. She’d offer you a piece of the cake, but… well. Let’s not speak of the cake. Let’s not speak of the cake ever again.

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