The devil’s due

Due on your Kindle, that is. See what I did there? Hee.

You can find both the Kindle and paperback editions of Peak of the Devil at Amazon even as I type.

The Kindle edition is on sale for 99¢–that’s 75% off regular price–through April 30 only.

Peak of the Devil will be available at other online retailers later in the week. Watch my sidebar and/or Bookshop page for links if you’re looking for it at iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, or Inktera.

Thanks for checking it out!

The sun always shines on TV

I’ve been following with great interest what I think of as the televisionization (say that three times fast) of reading, which has become so popular that the Kindle store now has its own short reads section. Or did it always and I just noticed it because of the following-with-great-interest thing? Either way, lots of people writing serials, Charles Dickens style, but more like TV because they’re breaking the stories up into not only episodes but “seasons” as well. All made possible, or at least popular, by subscription services like Kindle Unlimited and the ability to price your episodes at 99¢ to keep the value a purchasing reader is getting equal to that of a full length novel, wordcount-wise.

I love this whole thing. It’s not without its challenges, though. As a reader I’ve had rough experiences with serials because by the time the two weeks between episodes go by, I’ve forgotten too much stuff. You don’t have the advantages of the “previously on” reel you get with TV, and novelists are not accustomed to concerning themselves with whether it’s practical to expect a reader to retain many small details over a long span of time.

This is not to say at all that I think it only works with uncomplicated plots. Only that I think writers working in this medium need to adjust to it. You can’t just chop a full length novel into four or five bits and call it a day. Each episode has to be part of the larger story, of course, but it also needs to feel somewhat complete in itself. Cliffhangers are welcome, but there’s a difference between a cliffhanger and a chunk of story that has no beginning or end or arc of its own. You’ve got to take some lessons from your storytelling brethren in the television sphere.

I think it sounds like a fun project and a great challenge, so I’ve decided to do the trilogy I was planning as a serial instead. Each book a four episode season, with 20-25k word episodes released two weeks apart, and a four week gap between seasons. All starting at the end of July.

Don’t worry though, I’ll continue to release the remaining books in The Adventures of Lydia Trinket every six months, as planned. I KNOW YOU WERE WORRIED. (Or at least, you might be. Peak of the Devil ends on a cliffhanger, because I’m evil like that.)

More on this adventure as I go. Right now I’m up to my elbows in Scrivener outline because I do think this has to be approached in a completely different way from anything I’ve written before.

 

Radical action regarding Amazon reviews

I’ve just deleted every Amazon review I’ve ever written, from 2006 to the present.

They’ve changed the language in their policies against review manipulation, and frankly, I just didn’t want to worry about it.

Here’s a quote:


Customers trust that they can shop with confidence on Amazon. Reviews provide a forum for sharing authentic feedback about products and services — positive or negative. Any attempt to manipulate reviews, including by directly or indirectly contributing false, misleading or inauthentic content, is strictly prohibited.

We take the integrity of our reviews platform very seriously. If we determine that you have attempted to manipulate reviews or violated our guidelines in any other manner, we may immediately suspend or terminate your Amazon privileges, remove reviews, and delist related products. In addition, if we determine that an Amazon account has been used to engage in review manipulation, remittances and payments may be withheld or forfeited. Misconduct can also lead to legal action and civil and criminal penalties.

We encourage anyone who suspects that review manipulation is taking place or that our guidelines are being violated in any other manner to notify us. We will investigate the concern thoroughly and take any appropriate actions.


 

And some of the examples they give of violations:


A product manufacturer posts a review of their own product, posing as an unbiased shopper
A shopper, unhappy with her purchase, posts multiple negative reviews for the same product
A customer posts a review in exchange for $5
A customer posts a review of a game, in exchange for bonus in-game credits
A family member of the product creator posts a five-star customer review to help boost sales
A shopper posts a review of the product, after being promised a refund in exchange
A seller posts negative reviews on his competitor’s product
An artist posts a positive review on a peer’s album in exchange for receiving a positive review from them


You see a lot of concerning phrases there, and if you go on to read everything they have to say on the subject, you’ll find even more. Some of the things that have been called into question are authors reviewing the work of other authors, reviewing anything that could be construed as your competition, and reviewing the work of anyone you have a “close personal relationship” with. (As defined by who? It used to just say anybody in your immediate family or household, which is a lot more cut and dried.)

I’m sure this isn’t their intent, but the way it’s written, it essentially says they could ban you from publishing with them ever again if you’re an author and you’ve reviewed books. Or if you have a book that’s been reviewed by an author.

I’m very comfortable that I have never done anything unethical where reviews are concerned, either giving or receiving, at all. Like most indies, I’m friendly with some of the authors whose work I’ve enjoyed and reviewed. I’d say that’s all but inevitable, since one of the reasons you’re friendly with a person might be that you share similar tastes and sensibilities. But there’s nothing wrong with that so long as no arrangement was made to exchange positive reviews.

Also, this is a clear strike against people who pay for reviews. (And that’s obviously a good thing.) That’s what it’s about, largely. It’s not about me or my handful of reviews, I’m super small fry, and it’s silly to think anyone is looking at me.

So why be so paranoid?

That’s some scary-ass language, is why. You run afoul of it, and your career as an indie is over. Given the consequences and the potential for broad interpretation, it seems to me that strict adherence to the letter of the law–even the unclear imaginary letters–is in order.

As for my own reviews, I decided to define “close personal relationship” quite broadly, as anyone who is either related to me, or has had a meal or a drink with me. Because, duh, food. That applied to one of the people who reviewed Ghost in the Canteen–the only reviewer I’ve ever met in person–so I asked her to remove it. Nobody but me stands to benefit financially from my sales, and I’ve never offered another author a review in exchange for their writing one for me. So. I should be good.

But, there are some of my blog readers who have reviewed my work. If you’re also an indie and you’re the least bit uncomfortable with that, I’d encourage you to remove your review. I’d rather have fewer reviews and know everybody is sleeping well at night.

Buck Books Part 1: The Controversy

Buck BooksDISCLAIMER: If you click the Buck Books ad to the left, or the one in my sidebar, and then go on to sign up for Buck Books emails, I will earn a few cents. Don’t click it if you prefer noncents. (See what I did there?) But apart from being an affiliate, I do like Buck Books, and they’re worth checking out if you’re a reader looking for bargain books. More below.

The subject of Buck Books caused a little controversy over at the KBoards not long ago. The issue? Their policy is that if they promote a book, the author must agree to promote Buck Books in return. (Hence the affiliate program and the disclaimer above.)

But I’m pretty sure lots of the sites that will promote your book for free ask for some version of the same thing, even if it’s something simple like reciprocal links. And, um, why wouldn’t you want to help make sure any newsletter you’re featured in reaches as many readers as possible? I’ll confess I couldn’t see what the big deal was.

I’ve got lots of promotion planned in April and May for Ghost in the Canteen, as part of the release party goodness for book 2 in the series. That seemed like a perfect opportunity to explore this whole thing further, so I did a little more research. I found that people were having good results with Buck Books ads. I went ahead and applied for one. Possibly because I was really flexible in schedule, I was able to get a spot more easily than I’ve heard some people have. It’s running next week, April 14. Afterward I’ll be posting Buck Books Part 2: The Results over at The Write Stuff for interested indies.

Yes, I signed up for an affiliate account. The ad’s been in my sidebar since I got the spot around mid-March. I’ll be talking about Buck Books next week in conjunction with my promotion, as well as in this post. There’s been nothing sinister about any of this. Nobody is trying to make me spam my Twitter followers every hour on the hour or roam the country in a van decked out with the Buck Books logo, spreading the word to the masses. I simply checked the box that said I’d do some reciprocal promotion when I signed up, and they’re leaving the details up to me.

I find none of this the least bit shady. They’re perfectly transparent about their policy. I’ve been up front about what the affiliate link does. As we’re talking about promotion, I see nothing shocking in the discovery that it involves, you know, promotion. Buck Books ads are free, and they decide whether or not to promote your book before they see how you intend to fulfill your part of the bargain, or what your results may be. These aren’t ads going to the highest bidder. Not that there would be anything wrong with that either. Since that’s how most ads in most industries work.

Maybe it would be different if I wasn’t comfortable promoting them, although if that were the case, surely I wouldn’t want them featuring me either? But I genuinely like Buck Books emails, and I’ll stay signed up for them after my promotion is done and my obligation fulfilled. They’ve got a couple of advantages over some of the multitude of other bargain books newsletters you can sign up for. First, the regular email only promotes a small handful of books, so there aren’t pages and pages to scroll through. Second, they often do events where they promote a single genre or topic together, and I like not having to sift through, say, fifty cozy mysteries and romances to find one fantasy novel. (Although I do find the logo in their emails a little strange. It’s a guy in a tux with a sexy lady touching his shoulder. I guess she’s turned on by cheap books?)

So that’s my take on the controversy. Sound off in comments, and be sure to check The Write Stuff next week for my results!

Suckers

So here is the blurb for Suckers, by Z. Rider:

When worn-out musician Dan Ferry decides to take a shortcut back to the band’s hotel, he picks the wrong dark alley to go down. Within days of being attacked by a bat-like creature, he becomes consumed with the need to drink human blood.

Terrified of what will happen if he doesn’t get his fix–and terrified of what he’ll do to get it–he turns to his best friend and bandmate, Ray Ford, for help. But what the two don’t know as they try to keep Dan’s situation quiet is that the parasite driving Dan’s addiction has the potential to wipe out humankind.

You’ll note two key phrases there: need to drink blood and potential to wipe out humankind. That tells me it’s a vampire apocalypse novel. It takes serious balls to release a vampire apocalypse novel. The only way to write to a more saturated market would be to throw in some zombies. It’s a major challenge, and not for the faint of pen, to pull this off. Justin Cronin pulled it off. Z. Rider does, too.

I mention Cronin because sometimes Rider reminds me of him. Sometimes of Stephen King. Those are both big compliments in my world. But more importantly, she mostly doesn’t remind me of anyone. She owns this story. This story, despite having all the elements a horror story requires, is not one you’ve read before.

The bulk of the credit for that goes to the characters. Dan and Ray are interesting as individuals, but they’re even more interesting when taken together. Their relationship is a big part of the pull that keeps you turning pages when you should be doing laundry. As it’s burdened by greater and greater challenges, you want to know how much it can take. And you root for it not to fall apart.

This is a story about friendship, addiction, and then horrifying blood sucking gore. Don’t get me wrong, the horrifying blood sucking gore is quite horrifying. But it takes all three to make it work. This works very, very well.

And extra points for the mention of coffee regular. It’s been many years since I left New England, but that took me right back to my old morning commute. I don’t especially miss Boston. (Boston is great, but you know. We have sunshine and shrimp & grits here.) I don’t especially miss coffee. But I totally miss that delicious marble cruller. And also the years when eating a delicious marble cruller every day would have zero effect on my weight. Ah, youth.

And the point of that little aside is: it’s a great skill to take one detail like that and use it to evoke a setting so well. This is just good, solid writing.

Go read it.

My newsletter subscribers are more awesome than you

Because they got to read the first chapter of book two in the Lydia Trinket series, Peak of the Devil, last week. Now you can read it here and be awesome too. (Warning! Contains adult language. Reader discretion is advised.)

The Kindle edition of Peak of the Devil will be 99¢—that’s 75% off regular price—April 28-30 only. All editions, including print, will be widely available at major online retailers the last week in April.

Newsletter subscribers will get a release announcement, so you can both safeguard your awesomeness and make sure you don’t miss the sale by joining my mailing list.

And don’t forget that all eBook editions of Ghost in the Canteen have been permanently priced at 99¢, so as to be sure there are no barriers to entry into the series. If you aren’t awesome, I’m afraid you have nobody to blame but yourself.

And I think that’s about all the shameless self promotion we’ll be having around here, until I’ve got the cover to show you all.

Eleven Questions for: Marcia Meara

Marcia Meara is a native Floridian, living in the Orlando area with her husband of 29 years, two silly little dachshunds and four big, lazy cats. She’s fond of reading, gardening, hiking, canoeing, painting, and writing, not necessarily in that order. But her favorite thing in the world is spending time with her two grandchildren, ten-year-old Tabitha Faye, and twenty-month-old Kaelen Lake.

Her latest novel, A Boy Named Rabbit (Wake Robin Ridge #2) is now available at Amazon.

Q:
While writing: silence, music, or white noise?
A:
Silence. Absolute silence. When I’m wandering around in an alternate universe, scribbling down what I see my characters doing, any noise at all will pull me right out of that world, and bring everything to a screeching halt.

Q:
A Boy Named Rabbit deals with The Sight–have you ever had a premonition or psychic experience?
A:
Not really. I do have pretty good intuition about people and their motives or behavior. Of course, where it concerns men, I’ve often ignored it, which didn’t always work out well for me. But that’s a whole ‘nuther story! As for things like The Sight, mental telepathy, telekinesis, and precognition, I’ve never had any unusual experiences myself, nor seen anyone else experience any. However, I’m fascinated by what the human brain might be capable of that we just haven’t realized, yet. Since we only use a small percentage of our brainpower, it makes me wonder what we might be able to do if we ever find out what all those unused gray cells are there for.

Q:
Best beverage for writing?
A:
Earl Grey, hot. (Me and Jean-Luc Picard.)

Q:
Best beverage for not writing?
A:
Earl Grey, hot.

Q:
You’re an indie author. Did you consider going the traditional route? What made this the best model for you?
A:
Simple. I’m also a 70-year old indie author. It seemed to me that the long, drawn-out process of sending out manuscripts and receiving rejection letters over and over, ad nauseum, until (if you’re lucky) being accepted by a traditional publishing company was something best left to someone far younger than I. I don’t have decades in which to make this all happen. And I very much want to tell as many stories as I can in the years left to me. So for me, it was a no-brainer. Self-publishing, all the way. From concept, to draft, through editing, and then publishing, my first novel, Wake-Robin Ridge was “out there” in nine months. (And it definitely felt like giving birth, too.)

I did a lot of reading on the subject, and frankly, I think the traditional publishing industry has some built-in drawbacks for many writers. I don’t mean self-publishing is the answer for everyone, but it should certainly be carefully considered. Am I making millions? No. But I’m making a whole bunch more than I would be if I were still sitting around waiting for a publisher to decide to give my book a chance. And that works for me.

Q:
Rabbit is an endearing little boy who faces a lot of peril. What are your best tips for putting characters you love through pain and suffering? Are you sometimes tempted to go easier on them than the story demands?
A:
I don’t have a problem throwing trouble at my characters, because I believe in them, and their ability to overcome the odds—so I’m never tempted to go easier on them. I’d be more inclined to do the opposite, and make it even harder, I think. I often wonder when I’m done if it’s been difficult enough, or shocking enough, or scary enough to allow the character to prove his or her worth.

I can’t offer a lot of advice, because I seldom know when I start writing exactly how bad the situation might get. The folks in my tales usually tell me, and I write it down. I guess my only tip would be to have faith in your characters and trust that they can do the merely difficult with one hand tied behind their backs. The impossible might take a bit longer, but they can do that, too. Just turn ‘em loose, and they’ll surprise you.

Q:
What’s your favorite thing about publishing besides the writing?
A:
Seeing my book on the Amazon website or in print on my bookshelf. I’m still astounded when I realize I’ve written 3 novels and a book of poetry in less than 2 years. And people are reading them! (Okay, not the poetry, so much, but I wrote that one just for me, anyway, since poetry will never sell like a novel will.) Nothing beats the thrill I get when I open a box from the printer, and pick up that first copy of my latest book. Holy Moly! Reading good reviews is a close second.

Q:
Top three favorite fictional characters?
A:
Surely you meant 33, right? I mean, three? Oh, dear. Who to choose, who to choose…thinking…

Okay, Harry Dresden has to be my first choice, for far too many reasons to list here. Best. Wizard. Ever. Period! And his desire to do the right thing, no matter what it costs him personally has pulled me back for 17 books now.

Second choice is definitely Dorothy Gale who taught me to look for rainbows everywhere I go, and that the best way to kill a wicked witch is to drop a house on her. In fact, pretty much everything I know about life, I learned from her.

And tied for third, this motley crew: Odd Thomas from the wonderful series of the same name by Dean Koontz; Daniel Day-Lewis as Hawkeye in Last of the Mohicans; Inman from Charles Frazier’s beautifully profound novel, Cold Mountain; Ada, from the same book. Count Laszlo de Almasy a/k/a The English Patient; the Phantom of the Opera; Tybalt, King of Cats, and Toby Daye, who loves him; the assassin Sicarius from the Emperor’s Edge series…Oh, brother! Somebody STOP me! It’s possible I’ve mentioned more than three, here.

Q:
Is there a genre you don’t write in, but think you might like to one day?
A:
I really enjoy reading good urban fantasy, and I’d love to be able to create a believable world filled with remarkable creatures that roam the streets of our cities. I have no clue how my favorite UF authors do it. I’m in awe of writers like Jim Butcher, Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, Rachel Caine, and Seanan McGuire, to name just a few. I can’t imagine writing the kinds of stories they write, but oh, how I’d love to! In the meantime, though, I’m pretty happy telling tales of romantic suspense, some of which do have some strange elements thrown in for fun.

Q:
You’ve just finished writing a book, or completed some other big milestone. What do you do to celebrate?
A:
Ummm…the happy dance around my chair? Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever done anything special, other than call or email friends and happily proclaim that it’s DONE! I’ve usually already got another story started, and I just sort of switch gears and move on with that one. Sorry to be so boring, but that’s about what happens. Oh, wait. I bought a new purse when I finished Rabbit. Does that count?

Q:
Best villain (books, movies, or TV)?
A:
Villain, with no “S” on the end? Ack. How can I do that? So many to choose from! Okay, here goes. I guess my favorite of all time would have to be Dracula. He’s the first really evil guy I remember reading about, many decades ago, and he still gives me shivers in every incarnation that comes along. (Look! Only one villain! How good am I?)


If you’re an indie author and you’re up for answering eleven questions, email me.

Search terms: you ask, I answer

This is one of my favorite games to play on my other blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it here. I feel it’s only polite to try to help those who visit me seeking something specific. Luckily, WordPress can tell me what they were looking for.

real dornish peppers: It would have been better for you to hear this from a loved one, but I’m afraid there’s not a real Dorne. I imagine you could substitute any of several varieties of chili?

things that are not scary: Macaroons. Napkins. Toothpaste. The Blair Witch Project.

sansa loves lemon cakes: Yep.

jen rasmussen hawaii nude: Not that I recall.

richard armitage butt: Seriously, four of you in the last thirty days? I am not the proper resource for this. Meaning no offense to Mr. Armitage, there aren’t very many people whose butts I care to know stuff about.

american horror story briefly topics: Ghosts, aliens, medical experiments gone awry, odd explanations for the Black Dahlia, creepy clowns, creepy nuns, creepy war criminals, completely uncreepy and nonsensical witches, serial killers, and ladies who want babies. Not in that order.

info on murder of jen rasmussen: I imagine I’d be the last to know.

we found a witch may we burn her: How do you know she’s a witch?

jen scary thing: Not generally. Maybe if that Hawaii thing was true.

where do you send for letter to cary fukunaga: I can’t help with this, but if you write to him, tell him I loved his Jane Eyre!

four and tris with supernatural powers: I agree this would be cool.

excessive planning: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS.

i would always rather be happy than dignified: Jane and I both approve.

mr rochester x reader lemon: This is almost certainly code for something, but as I’m not a Cold War spy, I don’t know what. Perhaps my commenters can offer suggestions, if it wouldn’t blow their cover.

One Last Time

MAJOR SPOILERS for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, both movies and books.

CORRECTION: My apologies for getting the subtitle of the first movie wrong. What can I say, there were a few iterations during production, and I’m a forgetful old lady. That part’s been removed.

 

The subtitle for the second Hobbit movie made no sense. The Desolation of Smaug didn’t happen in that movie. But The Battle of Five Armies is aptly named. The battle is the movie. The whole movie.

It’s to Peter Jackson’s credit, then, that despite all that (great) action and all those (great) special effects, this was really a character movie. This is what I was missing from the second installment: it rang a little hollow, because it was just a bunch of action scenes mashed together without enough room for the actors to, you know, act and stuff.

That doesn’t happen here, and ultimately, it’s Jackson’s cast that carries this trilogy to a triumphant end. So I’m going to say nice things about them first, before I do any scolding.

Among some very stiff competition, Luke Evans and Richard Armitage were the standouts. Armitage played Thorin’s descent into madness beautifully. Sure, Thorin was a bit over the top, but if you haven’t come to expect that from Peter Jackson’s direction by now, you haven’t been paying attention. And it was the quiet moments, the flashes of the real Thorin coming through, that made the whole thing work. Armitage is what I always think of as a face actor; his performances are as much about his expression as the delivery of his lines. And when you can pull that off under all that hair and makeup, that’s saying something.

Luke Evans, on the other hand, actually manages to deliver a performance with restraint in a Peter Jackson movie, which is also saying something. He hits all the right notes with Bard, without ever crossing over into melodrama, and gives us an understated hero who despite his unlikely acrobatics and even more unlikely, for a fisherman, weapon skills, is completely believable.

And speaking of face actors, Dean O’Gorman is an unsung hero of these movies, because Aiden Turner’s Kili (also well played) gets all the spotlight in that brotherhood. But Dean O’Gorman? Is awesome. Peter Jackson is a great storytelller, and watching Fili and Kili growing from immature, innocent, plate-tossing goofballs into brave and battle-hardened men (or, well, grown dwarves) has been one of my favorite stories to watch.

The dwarves in the book aren’t really characters, except for Thorin (who himself only has one note, and that note is jerk). The others are largely indistinguishable from one another, a string of funny names. It’s quite an accomplishment for the writers and the cast that they managed to create thirteen actual, distinct, sympathetic people. I will never again read the Moria scene in Fellowship without tears, because Ken Stott made Balin real. Also a special round of applause for Graham McTavish, who succeeded in making me see Dwalin again, when I was pretty sure I’d only be able to think of him as Dougal from now on (and thus want to punch him).

It’s always, always a pleasure to see Ian McKellan and Cate Blanchett. I’d watch them read their grocery lists and be riveted the whole time. I can’t with this weird Gandalf-Galadriel thing, but still. Nice to see you guys!

And then we have Martin Freeman. Crikey. I really think this is the single best piece of casting across all six movies, and this performance right here is how you take a movie full of pointy elf ears and swords and dragons and make it real for people. And incidentally, while I got emotional several times, I did not cry until Bilbo started crying over Thorin’s body. (Then I cried the whole rest of the time.)

Okay, enough gushing. I have a bone to pick. There’s pretty much no point anymore in book comparisons. The Hobbit movies especially are more “inspired by” than “based on,” and that’s okay. Unlike a lot of other book fans, I like Tauriel just fine, and I like Evangeline Lilly in the role. But all that said, the worn-to-death star-crossed lovers routine is, frankly, a piss poor replacement for how Fili and Kili really die. It’s just one little line in the book:

Fili and Kili had fallen defending him with shield and body, for he was their mother’s elder brother.

But that image of them, fighting to the death over the mortally wounded Thorin, has stuck with me since I was seven years old. Because all that courage and loyalty and sacrifice make a tragic, fitting end to the House of Durin. And it’s so much more compelling than what we got.

I’ve expected to have my heart broken by their deaths since they first came to dinner at Bilbo’s. But, nope. I was properly shocked and dismayed by the abruptness of Fili’s, but Kili’s was so strongly telegraphed, and in such a cliched way, that when it finally came it was almost a relief. I was sorry they were dead, but the actual deaths did not make me cry. And they should have. That should have been one of the most memorable scenes in all six movies.

On a lighter note for the darkest of the Middle Earth movies, it’s clear to me that either Peter Jackson, or someone on his team, plays Word of Warcraft. First they put dwarves on rams. Then Beorn does a textbook bear bomb. Coincidence or conspiracy?

I’d like to end with a hat tip to the genius who came up with the “One Last Time” marketing campaign. Because I spent the last, I don’t know, maybe twenty minutes crying, and by the end it had nothing to do with the story and everything to do with my knowledge that we were leaving (movie) Middle Earth forever.

Only the rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were ever sold, and if memory serves, Christopher Tolkien has been very clear that he has no intention of selling the rights to any of Tolkien’s other work, ever. Peter Jackson already did some mining in the appendices of Lord of the Rings for the Hobbit movies, and I don’t think there’s much more story to be wrung out of the material he’s allowed to use.

Then again, “not much more” isn’t the same thing as “none,” is it? #OneMoreTime?

Unworthy people are picking what to read, you guys!

This is worth the read. But as always, out of respect for those of you who are, unlike me, spending your Friday productively, I’ll summarize:


The rabble are reading! And they’re reading whatever they want! This qualifies as an emergency, because books are for writers to read amongst themselves, and the unwashed masses must get off the writers’ lawns. But if they must peer through the window and beg, from out there on the lawn, they ought to at least have the decency to read what they’re told.


This isn’t the current trendy tsunami of crap tantrum, although Krystal does call it “a huge mistake” that “the prevailing mood welcomes fiction and poetry of every stripe, as long as the reading public champions it.”

But academics were hip to the tsunami of crap way before it became a thing. Their desire to be the sole arbiters of what does and does not qualify as great is old. Old, and also male, and white.

Yeah yeah I’m a smartass, but this is the problem I’ve always had with the attempt to define, and hold onto, a literary canon: you don’t get to.

Define it for yourself, sure. Scoff at the crap. I sure do. For the purposes of teaching or discussion or just good old fashioned snobbery, put together a working definition the group can agree on. Great. Go to it. But that’s not what we’re talking about, is it? Because the word canon implies official authority.

Well, guess what? There isn’t an authority. No, there really isn’t. No, you really aren’t it. I don’t care how expert, or smart, or educated, or well-intentioned you may be. Books are not yours. There is no individual or governing body that gets to tell the reading public what their “prevailing mood” ought to be. That’s because, and say it with me now:

Books are for everyone.