A Refresher Course On What I’m Obliged to Write About

So, a couple of days ago, a bigoted shithole of a human being took a screenshot of something Irene Gallo wrote on her Facebook wall some time ago and decided to deploy it at a specific time in order to gin up some outrage, which ended up with Irene making an apology for calling some people Neo-Nazis (when, in my opinion, it was merely some of them who could have been more accurately called bigoted shitholes), and Tor, her employer, also issuing an apology. Both Irene’s original statement and Tor’s apology have been the subject of much discussion online, Irene’s statement because even bigoted shitholes and their intentional allies (not to mention some genuinely innocent folks unintentionally or unwittingly dragooned into the bigoted shithole’s little schemes) prefer not to be called Neo-Nazis, and Tor’s statement because (for starters) it looks like Irene was hung out to dry by the company.

Up until this particular moment, I’ve been relatively publicly silent about this hoofraw, and for that fact, I’ve been getting some stick in some quarters, some from people who wanted me to address Irene’s comments, some from people who want me to address Tor’s letter, and some, I guess, from people who apparently just think I need to address every thing that happens on the Internet, because, I don’t know, maybe they don’t know what to think about a topic until I write about it. And indeed, there are some people who apparently believe that because I have not addressed these things publicly in a manner which they find suitable, I have been derelict in some manner, and this proves [insert whatever personal bugaboo they have about me].

So, clearly it’s time to remind people of some things.

1. I’m not your outrage monkey. I’m not obliged to participate in every blow up online, including the ones you think are relevant to my interests. Why? Because it’s my life, and that means I get to be in charge of what I respond to and discuss online, and what I don’t. You can have an opinion about me responding (or not), but I’m not obliged to care about that, or to agree with you that my response (or not) proves [whatever personal bugaboo you have about me]. As I’m fond of reminding people, there are three people whose opinion about me actually matters to me in the grand scheme of things: My wife, my daughter and (waaaaaaaaaaay further down, and relating only to writing) my editor. Everyone else: Meh. And to be blunt, if you’re the sort who will think less of me because I am not responding online to some thing you want me to respond about, you can put two heavy underlines below “I don’t care what you think.” Seriously, who even thinks like that. You might be a terrible person.

2. Large parts of my life exist outside of this blog and social media. And sometimes I will privilege those over addressing something online in what you might feel is a timely fashion. Why? Because it’s my life, and I get to make that decision, not you. And again you might feel that I should care about your opinion on the matter, but ask yourself: Are you my wife? Or daughter? Or my editor, with a concern focused on writing? If the answer is “no,” and it almost certainly is, then you don’t get a vote, no matter how much you would like one. My life isn’t a democracy.

3. I may choose not to address an issue in a manner you find satisfactory, or indeed at all. And why? Because it’s my life, and I get to make that decision (you may be sensing a theme here).  And I may have reasons for that, or none at all, or none that you may find satisfactory, and if you don’t like that, that’s totally fine, and not my problem in the least.

As an example, here are some possible reasons why I might not have chosen to address the Irene Gallo thing online in a manner which meets your exacting standards:

  • I was traveling when this all blew up and had to catch up before I could comment on it;
  • It was an event that involved someone I consider a friend and I didn’t want to address it before talking to her;
  • I had someone very important to me pass away, and that’s messed me up emotionally, and I didn’t want to comment on this because I didn’t trust myself to be rational about it;
  • I had work and business issues which I have not been discussing online, which I needed to address and which took priority;
  • I decided “fuck it, the Internet can get along without me for this one”;
  • As someone who can privately talk to people directly involved, I chose to do that rather than splotz my opinion online;
  • I decided I didn’t want to give more oxygen to a bigoted shithole and his shitty manufactured outrage;
  • I fell down a well and have been replaced by a colony of hyperintelligent bees, who despite their intelligence don’t understand this human concept of outrage at all and are struggling mightily to learn;
  • I didn’t want to annoy a company which is going to give me a ton of money over a decade;
  • Excessive personal ennui.

Which of these reasons is the reason I haven’t spoken on this subject in a manner which you find sufficient? Any one of them, or more than one in some combination, or possibly all of them, or possibly none. Unless I choose to tell you, and I’ve decided I won’t, then you won’t know (I will, suggest, however, that the one about the bees is unlikely, although that is what a hive of superintelligent bees would say to avoid detection, now, isn’t it). Or it might be for another reason entirely — say, that I knew if I did, that I would have to also deal with all the nonsense that comes with me speaking about anything online these days — or it might not be for any reason at all. Hey, sometimes I do or don’t do things without giving it any real thought. You never know! And while the reasons for not publicly addressing a particular subject will change from issue to issue, the overarching point that I may have reasons not to publicly address an issue will remain.

And again, you may find these reasons, or my choice to explain them or not, sufficient, or you might not. Which again is fine, and also again not anything I’m going to particularly care about. Again, you don’t get a vote.

4. The Internet doesn’t need me to weigh in on everything. It certainly didn’t in this case — there were more than enough people willing to engage both Irene’s initial comment, and Tor’s letter about it and the aftermath. In the former case, here’s something by Eric Flint; in the latter cases, something by Kameron Hurley and Chuck Wendig. These three are the figurative tip of an iceberg comprised of blog entries, comments, tweets and Facebook posts.

The Internet did not wait for me on this; it doesn’t wait for me on anything. Why are you waiting for me? I mean, thanks, I guess? It’s nice you want to know what I think? But I do hope you recognize the difference between you having an interest in my public thoughts on something — which is great! Thanks! — and thinking I’m obliged to share my thoughts on something in a public manner — which is not great, and which I don’t agree with.

5. All the above points are in effect until the heat death of the universe. In case you were wondering. And again, you may be unhappy with that. But again: I don’t really care.

Hope that helps.

The Big Idea: Beth Cato

In today’s Big Idea, Beth Cato challenges tradition in The Clockwork Crown, and creates a character that the rule books don’t ever seem to suggest can actually exist.


The Big Idea behind The Clockwork Dagger series is pretty straightforward: healers are heroes too, darnit. Not just sidekicks, but full-on protagonists.

I grew up on old school role-playing video games. In order to survive games like Final Fantasy or Dragon Warrior III, you needed a white mage, a cleric, some kind of magic user with healing power. They enabled your party to stay alive… if you could keep them alive. Because let’s face it, a white mage had the offensive and defensive skills of a paper bag. One solid thwack and they keeled over. You needed strong fighters up front to take the worst of the damage.

That’s the usual way of things with healers in games, whether the medium is 8-bit, Playstation, or MMORG. Healers are sidekicks. They buff the Big Damn Heroes and then cower in the back row.

Fantasy novels pretty much follow the same pattern. If the hero has some healing skills, it’s part of a demi-god prize pack of superpowers. It’s not their primary trait.

I searched for years for books that made healers into heroes. I didn’t find it, so I wrote it myself. I wanted a heroine who would stand in the middle ground between real world battlefield medics and the grand magical powers of video game clerics. She needed to be a warrior, but one who wielded herbs and compassion.

Meet Octavia Leander, the heroine of The Clockwork Dagger and the brand new sequel, The Clockwork Crown.

Since childhood, Octavia has understood that she’s different from most folks and even most medicians (magical doctors). When she’s near other people, she hears their injuries and diseases in the form of song and intuitively knows the right herbs to heal them. Through her magic she can even cause patients to float or create defensive barriers around them. Her heightened skills have made her an outcast among her fellow medicians. Even her mentor has succumbed to jealousy and turned against her.

Octavia’s physical strength is a more noteworthy attribute than her appearance. She can haul hay bales or drag a comatose body. She’s against violence, but if need be, she’ll defend herself. She’ll also rush to heal her assailant afterward.

During the events of the first book, Octavia’s magic changed in new, alarming ways and she realized she could become a deadly tool for the enemy. As the sequel opens, her powers have deepened in a manner that challenges her faith in the source of her power, a world tree known as the Lady. Octavia is on the run for her life as she’s caught in a vicious tug-of-war between terrorists and her own corrupt government. Everywhere she turns, there are assassins, kidnappers, and people who want to exploit her incredible magic.

Octavia is the kind of literary heroine I’ve searched for since my teens. She’s strong, compassionate, and resourceful. You won’t catch her cowering in the back row of battle. She’ll be on the front lines, her satchel at her hip, ready to fight Death one on one. And win.

The Clockwork Crown: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s | Indiebound

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