Tag Archives: Holly Lisle

About how there should be even more words in the English language

This morning I find myself thinking about the words we’re missing in English and really need. If you think about it, this is ridiculous.

Last week I started reading Holly Lisle’s How To Create A Language Clinic. Not that I even wanted to create a language, it was just that once I got it in my head that it would be interesting to see how someone went about it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And it is interesting, and probably really useful, especially to those are writing fantasy and not getting great results from a name generator. But that’s besides the point.

One interesting bit that I read in the book was a whole bunch of numbers. She lists approximate counts for the number of words in a handful of languages to kind of illustrate points about how language shapes thinking–having more words for a thing allows you to think about more shades of meaning of the thing. She brings up the classic example of all the Eskimo words for snow. Anyway, I think she said that English had, like, a million words. And then she goes through other languages and no one else even comes close to this.

Don’t you love English? Seriously, if you’re a word lover, you’ll enjoy that section of the book. (Sidebar: Another interesting bit was something like the average English speaker’s vocab is, like, 20,000 words. Word Dynamo is fun and will estimate how many words you know.)

So the reason we have all these words is that we cheerfully pick up words from all kinds of different languages whenever we feel like it, and we cheerfully invent new terms to talk about all the awesome things we invent.

How on Earth is it, with all this freedom and language addition, that we still have–

“my girlfriend–I mean, my friend, who is a girl”

“do you mean like him? or like him like him?”

“I want you to meet my girlfriend” (who is 53. Does that make anyone else feel middle school?)

And, for the love of all that is holy, can we come up with, and finally agree on, some gender neutral pronouns instead of having to resort to the plural forms?

I don’t mean to be all political or anything. I’m probably only half serious. But it is interesting how freely we’re willing to adopt new vocabulary for technology, but we resist clarifying words that touch on gender and relationships. Just sayin’.

One new one that I love and I’m sticking with is “shero.” In my mind now, when I speak, there’s a difference between a “shero” and a “heroine,” and I think you can all figure out what it is.

Also on my list of stuff that should be made official is College Humor’s New and Necessary Punctuation Marks (via Kait).


Wrapping this up with a PS. The campaign to help indie author Lauralynn Elliott is ongoing. If you don’t know about it, Kait, who has done a fabulous job putting this all together, has written it all out for you here. Kait gives great ideas for how to help beyond the easy answer of Send Money. However, do consider the Send Money option as well. If everyone we could reach took the time to drop a dollar, it would make an unbelievable difference in the life of someone who really deserves to have good things happen.


Filed under writing

Pulling out of iBooks?

This post is a reaction to reading Holly Lisle’s recent article: The Apple iBooks Author Issue: Small things, and large principles in which she talks about a clause in the user agreements for the iBooks Author program. I encourage you to hop over and check out her article, and the article she links to which gives a bit more explanation about the clause. I’m always grateful for people who can explain these agreements in ways that don’t make you want to spork your eyeballs out.

Now, I’m just hoping I get this right because these things are confusing to me, so be nice. But what I gather is that Holly’s pissed because the iBooks user agreement says that if you use iBooks to create an ebook (and I believe you must use it to get into the iBookstore without a third party like Smashwords), and that book is rejected by the iBookstore, you can’t take that copy of your work and sell it elsewhere.

To be clear, Apple’s not saying it owns the intellectual content of the book, but it owns the format produced by its software enough to have a say in what you can do it with it.

And that’s shitty and wrong for all the reasons mentioned in the two articles mentioned above, and if adopted by others spells out DOOM and virtual apocalypse and the end of the Life As We Know It, etc.

But it is a shock?

No. This is Apple! Have I created ebooks using iBooks Author? No. Because it’s Mac-only software. As far as I know, I cannot put books directly into the iBookstore as I can the Kindle, NOOK, or Smashwords stores because I don’t own a Mac, so I can’t run the software which is the exclusive way to get in there. If I want to put my book there myself, I’m expected to buy (and learn!) a whole new computer system.

I don’t like Apple’s exclusivity. I don’t deny that they have a right to be as exclusive as they wanna be (and that other companies have the right to to do things like make mobile versions of digital comics only available to Apple devices). I don’t have to like it. And I don’t have to give in, get an Apple device and set myself up to do more business with Apple (or the few cell phone providers who can support the device) for the life of the device. And I don’t have to buy the products of companies which can’t get a move on and release their products for the devices I will buy.

That’s my protest. That’s between me and Apple. In the last few years at my house that’s included a couple laptops, a couple MP3 players, an ereader, a tablet, and a smartphone. I like to adopt early. It’s hard to keep up and it seems to make things easier. But I’ll get behind on some tech rather than bind myself up in exclusivity battles. (Did I buy a Kindle? No. I waited until my Sony Reader was wretchedly behind the times and then I bought a NOOK Color and rooted it so it could use the Kindle app so I could shop where I wanna shop.)

I totally admire what Holly says here:

And there is no number of people affected that is insignificant. The smallest minority is the individual, and minority rights protect the rights of the individual because those are the only rights there are.

I would agree with that. Don’t use the software. I hope Holly chooses to find another way into the iBookstore because this is where our opinions diverge.

Apple may lose some revenue from the loss of Holly and perhaps of others who follow her lead. But also at a loss for the content they want are the fans who have already invested in Apple’s devices. Pulling content from the marketplace that serves that segment of her fan base puts those fans in the crossfire of her dispute with Apple. (Just like pulling content from NOOK to make it exclusive to Kindle in KDP Select is a smack to a segment of fans). And I’m not iHater enough to say that’s what they deserve for investing in Apple devices. (Of course you’d think they’d be able to purchase content at other places and sideload it if necessary, but we know that’s beyond the technical capabilities of some, and, at any rate, I feel like my job is to think of the people who actually support my work whenever I can.)

The whole thing to me is like… I don’t know. I guess it feels like you marry a jealous, possessive, controlling man because he drives a stylish automobile, knows the latest hot spots, and comes in fashion colors, and then suddenly you’re surprised when he wants to start telling you what to do? If a guy starts slinging a lot of proprietary formats in your general direction, take the hint about what kind of relationship this is going to be and shop elsewhere.

I’m not trying to rag on those of you who own and love your Apple devices for all the reasons you own and love them. There IS a lot to love. And I AM frequently jealous of you while I’m sitting on the outside looking in at your app store. I’m sure your OS is as elegant as you say it is and whatever else. But that relationship is not for me, and this is the kind of thing that reaffirms my stance on buying Apple goods.

But as much as it does, I don’t think pulling out of that marketplace entirely is right answer to this event. What about you guys? Anyone else inspired to pull out of the iBookstore because of the iBooks Author license agreement? Do you plan to just dump the software and get back in through Smashwords, or boycott the store entirely? For those who shop the iBookstore, will this be a problem for you? Would you shop elsewhere for your favorites?


Filed under self-publishing

Running At An Artificial Pace

At the top of the email it reads, “To: Susan”

These emails I get from Holly Lisle, I so often wish that I could find them and link you to them, because they’re so often very wise. And, of course they are. Holly’s been putting out great books and teaching writers for how long now?

Since I can’t show it to you and I can’t copy/paste it for you, I’ll give you the gist. Once upon a time, Holly decided, based on some extrapolation of daily page count and faulty thinking, that she would be able to write 12 books a year. An agent whom she queried with this plan shot her down, explaining that he wouldn’t rep anyone who wrote twelve books a year, because they would all be crap.

Now it is true that everyone writes a different pace, and I think that a lot of people can write more than the one or two books a year that NY will publish for you. Some people can write twelve good books a year, witness Amanda Hocking with 6 out of 12 in the Kindle top 100, last I checked.

And you know, that’s what I wanted to talk about. They’ve been talking a bunch around the indie blogs lately about what some are even calling the “Amanda Hocking Effect.” (Poor thing, I wonder what she thinks of all this.) I first heard this theory from Kait, and then the term itself a few days later from Zoe. The basic idea is that one of the ways to climb quickly and build a very excited, involved fan base is to keep feeding those fans new work. Amanda hasn’t let two months go by without a new release. She doesn’t have to worry about her fans forgetting about her, and when she comes out with something, it goes to the top of the list for those fans because they’re still reeling from the last Hocking book they loved.

So in addition to having a backlist available, feeding your readers new work without too much time lag between releases now goes into our theory about how things work.

Since that came up, a bunch of indies I know are talking about ways to do that. More short stories and novellas, the possibility of serialization. I don’t like serials. Cue Queen: I want it all, and I want it now. I don’t read many short stories. I like novels, I understand the…physics of novels, and that’s how my brain works. And yet this recent talk has made even me think about these things. I don’t know if that’s me being open-minded, or just plain wacky.

But this was all still stewing in my head when I read Holly’s email because I’m just trying to remind myself that it has to be good. I know everyone who’s thinking about doing shorts knows that. We all know that. But I needed to remind myself that it might be better to play to my strengths. There was the idea that maybe I could dash off some shorts and that would take some of the pressure off, make it easier to ask people to wait for the next novel.

And then the Gin Blossoms came in and said, Susan,

How you gonna ever find your place, runnin’ at an artificial pace?

I know, it seems odd, but people be showin’ up to tell me all kinds of stuff all the time. It’s part of why nothing gets done.

Do you know what occurred to me the other day as I read my piece on Hush Money at 6 months?

It’s only been 6 months. It seems like so much longer to me, but it’s only been 6 months. Jesus H. Washington Christ, what I have I been flogging myself for for the last few months? I’m totally new at this. I set myself an unreasonable deadline. I made a mistake. Criminy, how long am I going to make myself pay for that?

I’d guess that most trad authors get at least a year to write book 2, and probably longer than that to get it all polished up and ready to go. I dunno. It just seems like Holly was giving me a wake up call. Wake up and listen to what you friends have been trying to tell me.

The top of the email reads, “To: Susan,” and it’s like she wrote it just for me.

If you’re a writer and do not get Holly’s newsletter, please consider doing yourself that favor.

That segues pretty well into this week’s

Recommended Reading

Why I’m a Fandrew
Actually, I’m not just any fan of Andrew Mocete, I’m Fandrew #1. And if you want to see an example of why, check this out. Andrew’s writing a Love Series on his blog, about loves that have shaped him as a writer. Who gets the first spot? His wife. In a charming and heart-felt post, Andrew talks about the importance of support, how rare it is, along with some good ideas about why it’s so hard to find in My Wife: Love Series Part 1. (found because you know Fandrew #1 subscribes)

I’m a speshul snowflake too!
Ok, this is a bit of ramble, but stick with it, because it’s full of sincerity, and drizzled with beauty. It may inspire you a bit, and open up your brain a bit, as Larry Brooks so often does for me. Writers, Give the Gift of “Getting off the dime” is Larry’s answer to that every-person who casually says “Yeah, I’d like to write a book someday.” (found via subscription to the Storyfix blog)

I don’t wanna sully my art by doing what I love in any way that’s less than…
If you’re on the fence about going indie because of the stigma factor, here’s a post to think about. Another from Larry Brook’s Storyfix blog, this is a guest post by Carol Tice. (via subscription)


I’m a bit backwards this week, and I’ll admit that ROW80 hasn’t been much on my mind. I wrote a lot on the short piece this week. In both the stories I’m working I’m now at a point where I will have to break down and write an action scene on something. Damn.


Filed under Recs and Links, ROW80