“Click ‘Like’ on my book on Amazon, and I’ll ‘Like’ yours!”

So somebody posted a link to my Dieselpunk vs Steampunk post yesterday, and suddenly I had literally twenty frelling thousand page loads in a half a day. Reading the comments has been interesting – there was a lot of disagreement, but interesting discussion, and lots of thoughts I’d like to elaborate on in the future. And of course, if you ever write anything, naturally you’re going to be misunderstood by someone. Someone even got upset that I had trashed Waterworld, when I wasn’t at all, I liked that movie. I’m only surprised I didn’t get trashed harder. The great unwashed of the interwebs have not lived up to their reputation for mindless trolling! (Not complaining, mind.)

Anyway, elaborations for another day. On to today’s topic.

I’ve taken to very seldom buying a book off the shelf these days unless I’ve heard it recommended by multiple people, or read at least one review. I don’t have time to waste on stuff that isn’t worth my time, and lately I’ve been wanting to try out new authors, rather than going over the same old authors that I haven’t quite read everything they’ve written yet. So reviews, and things like Goodreads, has been where I’m going to look for new books, and I appreciate the number of resources online, and honest, thoughtful reviews.

Also, I’ve been reviewing books on my own website, and recently, with Blightcross, was, for the first time, asked for a review. I was honoured to be asked, and strove for honesty in my review. If there was something that bothered me in the book, I feel as a reviewer, I’m honour bound to say so in the review. After all, who’s going to take me seriously as a reviewer if I give a glowing review to a shitty book?

I saw this posted on Facebook today:

This is IMPORTANT………..

So Important I am posting this again….

If you are an author OR BUYER on Amazon… please pay attention…

They “recommend” your book to consumers based on two things:
1) Tags
2) Likes and Reviews

You MUST log into Amazon and create either a “real name” or another name and tag your book… meaning categorize it.. for example I tagged mine as chick lit, romance, rock and roll….

Next we ALL MUST go to each other’s books and click the like button…. why.. it is FREE PROMOTION for all of us….

To do that, do NOT like THIS post….

Click the link below and when the book comes up right under the title there will be a like button… click it (you MAY have to log in)

Then PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE… post the link to your book below so we can all reciprocate………….

Okay. What I see here is a blatant request from one author to another, to assist them with cheating a system intended to draw readers attention to good quality fiction. The author of this note is not saying, read my book and click like if you liked it. They’re not even actually asking you to read the book.

Seeing things like this leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s the same as the follow-me-on-twitter-and-I’ll-follow-you-and-we’ll-retweet-all-one-another’s-tweets thing. Or the you-buy-my-book-and-I’ll-buy-yours thing, and we’ll make a living that way. Only, this is just a little bit worse, because it’s dishonest at it’s core, both for the author making the request, and the others participating.

I don’t know really what else to say about this, but that I resent having to compete with people doing things like this, rather than doing *real* networking, and *real* review solicitation that I see other authors doing, and when I’m not willing to compromise my own ethics, as minor as this is, to join them. Even if I don’t have a book out yet – I will, and I’m sure I’ll resent it even more when I do.

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PSA: Sexism and Women in Tech Support

*sigh* I was discriminated against today.

This post is not at all writing related, but it’s about sexism and the ridiculous places it comes from sometimes.

I work in internet, TV and cell phone tech support, and sadly, today was not by a long shot the first time I’ve had such a call: Lady gets on the line, has already worked herself up into a tizzy, and when I answer, and give my name, she says she wants to speak to a technician.

I’m a technician, I say, I can help you.

And then she says “No offense” but she wants to speak to a man.

In the past I’ve argued with these people, and eventually got them to hang up, but I figured I’d try something different. After failing to assure this woman that I could help her as well as any man, I let her rant hoping I could get enough information to help her anyway (at my company, we’re often nice that way, even if you’re being a douche – our bosses like to see it, it’s a job — we’re professionals).

Then when I got a chance to talk, I told her I was sorry she’d had so much difficulty with her service, but (in a very firm and level voice, not my nicey nice voice) that I was indeed very much offended that she didn’t believe that I could help her because I was a woman.

It can be really fun calling people on bullshit – she backpedaled then and said she was sorry, she shouldn’t have said that. We’re Canadians, and if there’s anything we can’t abide, it’s offending people.

Again, it’s sad that I get this “I want to talk to a man” as often as I do. And I honestly don’t recall ever getting it from a man. That’s the screwy thing, it’s always women who will come out with that. I’ve talked to men who didn’t think I could help them, and I could tell they had been expecting and hoping to talk to a man, but they won’t say it out loud. Women will. We’re shooting ourselves in the female empowering foot, ladies, come on.

And I’ll let you in on a secret. Those ladies may think that the girl doing tech support isn’t as capable as the guy, but it’s actually likely to be the opposite, and I’ll tell you why. It’s not because women are smarter than men. No, it’s because of those closed minded individuals who give women such a hard time working in the industry (not my coworkers, not my supervisors – they know I know my shit – it’s the customers on the phone who lack faith in the XX chromosome). It’s because there is so much more tolerance from customers for a man who hasn’t a clue what he’s doing, than there is for a woman. Which means, the only women who stick around are the ones who *really* know what they’re doing. They’re typically above average in know-how in the call center, just because if they weren’t, they’d get twice the abuse a man would take.

And this is why it’s still hard to be a woman these days, with all the laws made to protect us from discrimination, there’s still the asshattery that laws can’t stop people from committing, and other women are just as guilty of holding us down as men.

*sigh* Going back to writing now.  Gonna type out the edits on that chapter where the brothel madam complains about how men oppress her.

The Eyelet Dove Progress and General Update

I’m finished pretty much all the edits, and I’m on lesson 21 of Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel course, which has been great, review to come when I’m finished. I have to take a break from the revision though, not for another project this time – this time for life interrupting.

Our building owners, Sussex, want to raise our rent by 40%, and there’s no way we can afford it. This news came less than twenty four hours after settling with the insurance company over my husband’s disability benefits, so we have some money we had hoped to use to put a down payment on a house, but I’m stuck working part time, and we’d never get approved for any house worth living in. We’d end up in the north end, best case scenario, and probably end up paying two or three times what the house will be worth in a couple years when the housing bubble pops.

Crazy hard to find an apartment that’s affordable in this city these days, let alone one that will let us keep our cats, and we’re not getting rid of our babies.

But this apartment is not worth what they want for it, and they want more than we can pay without whittling away at our nest egg. So we’ve looked at all our options and the best one seems to be moving in with my mother in law.

Who is an awesome woman, by the way. Combining our household incomes will help her as well as us keep our finances stable and secure, and I could keep working part time rather than scramble to try to get a full time position or a second job. If I had to get a second job, that would be tantamount to having to give up writing. I wouldn’t have time. Working part time, while we’ve been strapped for cash, I’ve been able to get a ton of work done on the revision, and even a couple of short stories. I’ve used the time I have. I remember working full time and commuting an hour both ways, and while I pushed myself to write and revise a novel doing that, it was wrecking me.

And I’d choose writing over money, because, well, I just can’t not do it. If I don’t have time to write for too long a period of time, I start to get really grumpy, and depressed.

*le sigh* We were supposed to have a bit of time to sit back and breath after the insurance thing was over. Instead, the next day we started the stress of having to figure out where we’re going to live. Life does not want to give me and mine a frelling break. I’m blaming this on the Harper Government, btw. I voted for the other guys.

So yeah, it does feel a little bit like taking a step backwards, moving back in with parents, but with the Husband’s health what it is, it’s the best option for us. We’ll pull together as  an extended family and support each other, and it will let me continue chasing my dreams of being a pro author.

Review: Blightcross, by C. A. Lang

This was my first ARC, so I was pretty excited to get the l from the publisher, offering a review copy. My little blog is all growed up! And hey, it’s Dieselpunk secondary world fiction, so I was sold on it from the get go.

The cover is very true to the book – the braid, the eye colour and hair colour, the red cravat, the necklace with saphires, all mentioned in the book. The clock tower in the background too. It’s nice to see a cover with a female main character not being over-sexualized, which is doubly appropriate, since there’s no romance in the book. Nice to see an author not trying to shoe-horn it in where it’s not needed.

It’s a very plot driven book, so if you’re a reader who likes a good adventure, this is an Indiana Jones style story. Capra is a Valoii deserter from Mizkov, having abandoned her people and their war against the Ehzeri, and with her military background, she’s a great butt-kicking heroine to center the story around. She’s also found herself in a part of the world where men don’t respect women, and it grates on her terribly. Also, since there’s no romance in the story, she doesn’t suffer from being rescued by the male lead constantly, and ending the story being the trophy girl for the male lead. It reminds me a bit of the Holly Vesper series, by Lloyd Alexander – adventuring heroine without the need for there to be a male love interest to make her interesting.

One thing I really liked was the fact that the plot was well foreshadowed. Things early on in the book matter later, and the hints were subtle, yet the promise was clear. The Archon that Vasi must be sure to keep in check, the giant unseen thing beneath the tarp in the armoury, visible from all over, the Sevari family memorial that the characters don’t have time to check out the first time you see it. All promises that there’s something cool there, and we’ll get to see it later. And then the author follows though on them, and that goes a long way for me, especially when a lot of debut authors forget the foreshadowing.

The other main characters are fairly well developed. There’s Vasi, an Ehzeri, who’s main drive is also not finding someone to fall in love with, but protecting her younger (twit) brother who’s intent on getting himself into the maximum amount of trouble possible. She’s not quite as kick-butt as Capra, but she has more of a quiet, come up from behind kick-assery, being a magic wielder.

Ironically, Lang being a male author, it was more the male characters that I thought could have used a bit more character development, though even there, it’s not that they’re not developed, it’s more that the development doesn’t get in until after the halfway point. Alim, being the exception – an old friend of Capra’s from the military, sent to execute her for desertion, who blames Capra for the death of his wife.

The worldbuilding was fresh. The story takes place in a city built on the oil industry, as mechanization quickly replaces magic in this world. I’ve always been a sucker for worlds where magic and technology are being mixed, so I love the world. Even the oil itself has the background story of being the blood of the fire giants after their legendary figure cast them down into a pit.

The one world building thing that disappointed me though, was the hand cannons, and lack of detail on them. I kept wondering, are they match-lock, wheel-lock, flint lock? The term historically refers to a hand-held version of what looked like a miniature cannon, dating at least 500 years earlier than the time period the rest of the worldbuilding invokes. The weapon in the story was described as having a wooden stock, though and machined barrel, which sounds more like a pistol. There was mention of the long loading time, but little description of how it was loaded and fire, for all that they were used frequently through the story. Nary a mention of cloth or ramrod.

The bit that really made me twitch though, was when a character dropped the shot into the barrel and then the powder.

But I’ll refrain from ranting, because that was a relatively small thing, and overall I liked the book and it’s themes. There’s the background environmental theme, with the chemical output of the refinery, of labour, and treatment of workers and women. I was particularly intrigued when I realized that the Valoii and the Ehzeri are an allegory for Israel and Palestine, and was impressed with the delicate handling of the emotions of that conflict. It’s an allegory that could so very easily be done very badly, but the author didn’t demonize either side. Instead, he presented characters on both sides of the conflict, and made their feelings towards the conflict, and towards one another feel real as individuals, treating them like people, not stereotypes, and not representations of all of their people. Neither side’s characters were presented as “bad guys”, and I think it was respectfully handled.

It ended with a couple loose ends, but I took that to be hooks for the next book. Where things will go from here, I don’t know, but there are some secrets in Capra’s past that haven’t been told yet. I will definitely be looking out for the next book, whenever that comes out.