Follow-up on my resignation from SFWA, with statement from SFWA’s president
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Government GrantsWhere this comes from: A new SFWA member happy to have qualified—who is also one of my writing students—contacted me privately to present misrepresentations of what I said here that were being presented in SFWA’s private forums.

  • I will post MY first reply,
  • the reply from SFWA President Steven Gould,
  • and my definitive response:

MY FIRST REPLY:


The potential for SFWA to use taxpayer money to fund grants is my ONLY objection, but a big enough objection that I resigned and that I will recommend to any students who ask me that they not join.

ON THE SFWA EMF…

1) The SFWA Emergency Fund doesn’t give grants. It makes loans that must be repaid.

2) The funds for those loans are donated by organization members.

As I noted in my open letter, I think private donations are fantastic when given voluntarily by individuals to whom the service [for which] they’re donating matters. I have done a lot of individual donating in my lifetime to things that matter to me, and will continue to do so.

You are welcome to quote this in its entirety on your blog.

Cheerfully,
Holly


SFWA President Steven Gould’s response (linkback):


One of SFWA’s motivations for becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation is, indeed, to be able to give outright grants for medical and legal aid rather than make loans. Another benefit is that now the donations we receive are fully tax-deductible for the donor. There are other non-monetary reasons. Under Massachusetts corporate regs, we could not hold officer elections via electronic/digital/online ballots, nor could we hold a general business meeting in another country (say if the WorldCon was in Canada.)

We do make grants for many purposes. We support AboutSF, the educational outreach program at the University of Kansas’ Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction and we’ve given a grant to the LaunchPad Astronomy Workshop for Writers. We also give a grant to the University of Northern Illinois for their Special Collections, though this is because they are SFWA’s official archive, so in a way we’re paying for services. We are implementing a program to provide technology grants to aid members whose ability to write has been impacted by a major hardware/software disaster and can’t afford to replace, repair, or upgrade their system.

A large amount of the organization’s income come from payments received from the Author’s Coalition of America, which distributes foreign non-title specific royalty payments for American works photocopied abroad. This is the closest thing we receive to “public grant money” and it is private fees paid by individuals outside of the United States.

We are certainly investigating the possibility of applying for appropriate grants from public and private sources when the purposes of those grants line up with our existing mission programs. But we have yet to do so and I seriously doubt it will ever be a significant portion of SFWA funding.


MY DEFINITIVE FINAL REPLY:


First, I applaud SFWA’s desire to give grants rather than loans to people suffering from medical emergencies. Continuing its practice of having members volunteer to fund those grants is probably the intent—but the repayment of the loans kept the fund fluid so more loans could be offered.

Under the new system, the well will run dry promptly, requiring more donations from a membership ever less eager to give, and alternate sources will need to be found—and the government is ever willing to fund grants so long as the grants are spent regularly and in a timely fashion, and not kept in storage to maintain a self-funded system.

Second, as I said right at the beginning of my original statement, I know SFWA had many GOOD reasons for wanting to move the corporation to California.

Third, however, Sun Tzu says to prepare not for what the enemy might do, but for what he CAN do.

I’ll note that I do not consider SFWA the “enemy.”

THE ART OF WAR, though, is applicable to many situations in life beyond war, and it is applicable to organizations that expand their powers and reach over time.

Organizations generally begin with the best of intentions. They generally increase the powers they give themselves for good reasons and with hopeful intent.

However, across the life of an organization, every power the organization gives itself will eventually be used, first in “exceptional” cases, and over time as a matter of course.

An organization that puts itself into position where it CAN tap into Federal funds for the purposes of redistributing them eventually WILL.

It may do so tentatively at first, but exceptions become conventions, and people who have a conscience about using money they didn’t have to earn are replaced by those who happily use promises of giving that unearned money to friends and allies within an organization in exchange for votes.

Campaigns of “FREE Writing Grants for SFWA Members! It’s YOUR Money!!” will remove those with consciences from office and replace them with those who think “free” money taken at gunpoint from taxpayers is just nifty.

Gould states, “We are certainly investigating the possibility of applying for appropriate grants from public and private sources when the purposes of those grants line up with our existing mission programs. But we have yet to do so and I seriously doubt it will ever be a significant portion of SFWA funding.”

And this is the part of that statement that proves I made the right choice in posting my open letter and walking away NOW.

“But we have yet to do so and I seriously doubt it will ever be a significant portion of SFWA funding.”

I DON’T. Organizations follow predictable paths.

Federal income tax was initially a pittance compared to revenue taxes.

SFWA is an organization with an elected government, too.

Gould and others who intend the best will be replaced (and probably must faster than they imagine) by those who want to have power within SFWA, and who see that a new path to power within the organization has just been created by the simple expedient of promising money that isn’t theirs to folks who would like have money they didn’t have to earn, and who are willing to vote to rob Peter to pay themselves.

Again, you are welcome to post my response as long as you post it in full.

Cheerfully,
Holly


ADDED LATER: My response to the angry people screaming in not-posted-and-never-going-to-be comments at me, “How dare you delete my previous comment?!” (So far, these comments have all been to the FIRST post on this subject.) [Link to original Open Letter post]

Here’s how I dare.

Point One: My blog, my rules.

Point Two: My rules are POSTED

…and have been for years. Linked right on this page, and on EVERY FREAKIN’ PAGE OF THE BLOG.

If you don’t want to be deleted, don’t break my rules.
 
 
 


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I’m sick…but I STILL kicked Bashtyk Nokyd’s ass
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Bashtyk-Nokyd-Take-OneI couldn’t sleep last night because I couldn’t breathe last night. (Matt was sick for two weeks, the Kid has been sick for one, but is still sick—and now it’s my turn.

So I sat up all night writing.

I got 20 Sentences, which doesn’t seem like much until you realize that each Sentence is the condensed outline for one chapter, and that in one long sitting, I completely outlined the second version of Bashtyk Nokyd Takes The Longview.

What is going to survive from the first version?

The first line: As a gesture of rage and protest, I recently bought a pretty girl a fancy dress for her execution.

Having run the first version into the side of a mountain in a horrible train wreck of mythic proportions, I decided to take a different route this time.

But that is still a damn fine first line.

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BASHTYK NOKYD takes a nosedive…
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Monster In The ClosetThere comes a point in every series where things go wrong.

No. Let me make that a bit clearer.

There comes a point in every series where things go “monster-jumps-out-of-your-closet-and-bites-your-head-off” wrong.

I have met the monster, and it is Bashtyk Nokyd Takes The Longview.

And here’s the thing. Even after you’re wandering around with your head chomped off, the series must go on.

The Dark Side…

I’m stalled. BAD. I have hit the wall and the wall has hit me—and the wall is in great shape.

Lucky wall.

The BRIGHT Side

In How To Write A Series, we were already going to spend Module 3 on Special Case Series Development.

Well, now I know what the first lesson is going to be:

MODULE THREE, Lesson 1: Chaos Theory VS. The Series Plan—Why Chaos ALWAYS Wins, and How to Turn the Tables on the Chaos Beast and Make it Work for You

What’s more, because I have to take apart what I broke anyway, so I can figure out how to get in there and fix it, I’m going to use the broken BASHTYK NOKYD as my demo, and fix it as part of the lesson.

MODULE THREE, Lesson 1 will go live for current HTWAS students ASAP, probably on Friday of this week. New students will get it as soon as they catch up with the rest of the class, which currently takes about a month.

Once I’ve figured out my fix, of course, I have to go back to writing the story. It may not be complete by the time I officially open Module 3 on Tuesday, January 6th. But it will be complete and published by the time the finished story comes into play in class.

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Interview with a school kid: HONEST answers on writing, school, and life
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I got the following email this morning.

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If you wouldn’t mind, I would like to ask a few questions about being an author.

  1. Why did you decide to be an author, instead of something like… A coach?
  2. What made you interested in being an author?
  3. Would you suggest to other people, that they should be an author?
  4. What books should I start reading? (I like fantasy, but I know to read other types too), (also, what are some of your favorite books to read?)
  5. What are some of the (more) important subjects in school, for being an author?

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It was from a school email address, which in general means the kid is doing homework assigned by a teacher, and I have a standing policy on BEING HOMEWORK assigned by a teacher.

However, there was a single word in one question in that little list of five that really got to me. (I’m not going to tell you which one, but you’ll figure it out.)

So I decided to do the interview with the kid—and more, I decided to tell him the truth, which is something I guarantee he hears from adults just about never.

In my experience, adults talking to kids are gawdawful liars now in about the same percentage that they were when I was a kid. Truth from an adult was like the single gasp of fresh air in a room filled with fart.

So here’s what I told him.

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1: Why did you decide to be an author, instead of something like… A coach?

I didn’t decide to be an author. I was going to be a famous artist, or maybe a musician.

Tried both of those, and discovered they made great hobbies, but I hated them as jobs. So I went to nursing school, and worked as an RN, mostly in the emergency room and intensive care units, for ten years.

But four years into my nursing career, when my own children were two and three years old, two children who had been in a horrible accident were brought into the ER where I was a nursing supervisor. I ran the code on one, the ER RN ran the code on the other. In spite of everything we could do, both of them died, and their parents lost both their kids that day.

I realized that they could have been my kids, and realized that I needed a different job—one that kept me where I could be with my children.

I’d always loved to read, and was certain I could write better stories than most I read. So I spent every spare minute of my free time, when my kids were at school or asleep, writing fiction. I was terrible at it in the beginning, and got more than 100 rejections from publishers before I sold anything. But I taught myself, trying new things, figuring out ways to do what I wanted to to better, and most of all, I never quit.

Five years later I sold two poems, and then my first novel. That novel went on to win the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel, and I went on to sell every single thing I wrote for the next seven years straight—something that almost never happens. I still sell very well.

The year after my first sale, I got a three-book deal from my publisher, and quit nursing to write full-time. I’ve been supporting my family by writing ever since.

2: What made you interested in being an author?

Never having to run a code on someone else’s kid for an hour, begging the kid the whole time to hang on, to live, to just not die so he could go back to his mom and dad.

Knowing I could do it and be good at it.

Loving books.

Needing to be close to my kids.

3: Would you suggest to other people, that they should be an author?

There’s no such thing as “should.” Do not EVER do something because someone else tells you that you SHOULD do it because you’d be good at it, or because you “owe it” to your parents, or to society, or to the world.

The only reason you do something is because you love it, because it matters to you, and because you know that you can do that work well, and that by doing THAT work, you will enjoy your life and make it meaningful to yourself. You don’t owe your parents, your school, society, someone else’s expectations of you, or the world anything.

4: What books should I start reading? (I like fantasy, but I know to read other types too), (also, what are some of your favorite books to read?)

I read everything. In fiction, I read fantasy, science fiction, westerns, horror, suspense, romance, books written for men, books written for women, and everything else I can get my hands on.

In nonfiction, I read predominantly history and science, but I also research anything that interests me, no matter how odd.

5: What are some of the (more) important subjects in school, for being an author?

I learned two things in school that actually applied to my career as a writer.

One was how to think scientifically by using the scientific method:

  • Ask a question
  • Create a hypothesis
  • Predict what will happen
  • Test the hypothesis
  • Evaluate the results

I used this process to teach myself how to write fiction. How to raise kids. How to use a computer. How to create a business on the internet. How to fix problems that came up at all points in my life.

The other thing I learned in school that was actually valuable was that if I wrote one page every day, I would have my notebook filled by its due date, and would not fail my class.

I discovered that’s the way you write books, too. A little bit every day, not everything all at once.

Otherwise, school was just as useless when I was a kid as it is now. It prepares people to work in jobs in an industrial society (which no longer exists in this country) and in “service industries”—in other words, to get a job flipping burgers at McDonald’s or ringing up sales at Wal-Mart.

And college is just an expansion of school—the vast majority of college graduates do WORSE on general knowledge testing than they did as high-school graduates.

If you want to do something cool with your life, you’re going to have to learn to do it on your own time.

You’re going to have to find people who know how to do what you want to do, take courses if they offer them, ask them to take you on as a trainee—whatever you have to do to learn what they know.

And you’re going to have to work HARD. You are going to have to learn how to fail, because we learn new things and create new things by failing until we finally succeed. Until you can fail at something, get back up and try to do it again, only better, you will never accomplish anything.

Furthermore, you are going to have to learn how to persist. I told you about the more than 100 rejection slips I got before I started selling anything. That was more than one-hundred times that I failed—that people told me I was wasting my time, that friends and family said I’d be better off just sticking with the thing that I was already doing.

That was more than one hundred times over a period of YEARS that I had to tell myself, “This is what I want, and what I want my life to be matters to me.”

I won—and writing is the best job on the planet. At least for me.

I wake up every morning joyful that I get to do this—that I get to go to MY kind of work, sitting alone in front of a computer, telling myself a story that delights me, knowing that not even I know how it ends yet…but I will.

Whatever you end up doing, I hope that it’s something you love. Something you fought for and earned. Something that makes you happy to get out of bed every day to do, because you get to have the fun of working hard at something wonderful that matters to you.

Holly Lisle

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Moon & Sun: I’m now clear to write in my world again!
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I'm Celebrating!

I’m Celebrating!

I didn’t want to say anything about the fact that I was pursuing the removal of the non-compete clause from my contract until I heard one way or the other.

I got the news today. The non-compete clause for my Scholastic contract is dead, and I’m now free to write stories in that world again.

So now the issue becomes looking at my schedule and figuring out how and where I can start opening the world up again.

For a little context on my move to publishing my own work, read I’ve quit Big Publishing to publish myself.

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Questions for the Google+ Chat: What do you want to know about…
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The Google+ Live Chat will start Friday at 12 NOON ET. 

THERE IS NO SOUND on the first 45 or so seconds of this video. Skip past those. I caught the error quickly.

I’m going to answer questions you post here.

This is pretty wide open. Your questions can be professional or personal, and can be related to nonfiction or fiction.

Do you have a writing question I’ve never answered anywhere?  A question about one of my novels? A question about me?

I’m not expecting a lot of questions, but if I get a lot, I know I won’t have time to answer everything in this one chat.

SO…

If there are a lot of questions, I’ll organize the ones I don’t answer into categories, and do a few more live Google+ chats to answer them.

http://youtu.be/7Ar28NioO48

I’ll post the link in this space once I get Google+ set up and know that it’s working. If some of you wouldn’t mind using the link in the top right corner to post it to Twitter once we get going, I’d appreciate it. I’m working with

I’m going to print off the existing questions right after I have everything set up, and I’ll either go down the list, or pick and choose, depending on how many there are.

Is there anything you can’t ask? No.

Is there anything I won’t answer? Probably.

Use your best judgement. :D

 

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Migraines and Vertigo Redux
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I started having headaches about halfway through last week.

On Friday, they turned into migraines and icepick migraines.

On Saturday, the vertigo returned, and the headaches stayed.

I got a few hundred words written on Saturday and again on Sunday on WARPAINT, but did not do anything online.

I’m working on LESSON 23 of the Self-Pub Expansion of HTTS today, and again, am working through migraines and vertigo.

I’ll answer the additional story and writing questions from the party as quickly as I’m able, but it won’t be today.

I apologize for the delay. I had a wonderful time at the party. Thank you again for coming.

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Interview with Stephanie Osborn, author of The Case Of The Displaced Detective (science fiction)
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The Case of the Displaced Detective: Book 1

The Case of the Displaced Detective: Book 1

  1. In a single sentence of thirty words or less, describe your main story, hero, conflict, and why my readers will love your book.

    Physicist Dr. Skye Chadwick discovers an alternate reality wherein Sherlock Holmes is destined to die at Reichenbach and rescues him, but can Holmes thrive – even survive – in our modern world?

  2. What is the core of this story, your passion for writing it, the reason you wrote THIS book and not something else?

    This is a fish-out-of-water story. I wanted to take one of the most brilliant men in literature and place him in a situation where he had only two choices – lose his mind, or man up and adapt.

    Grow.

    Learn.

    I’ve been a “Holmesian” since childhood, so he was the logical choice. And once the “plot-bunny” bit, I couldn’t NOT write it. 215,000 words spilled out of me in two months. Which is why it’s a two-volume: The Arrival, and At Speed. The Arrival is an “origin story,” with foreshadowings of a spy ring after the project that brought Holmes here, and by its end we go full bore into the mystery, which unwinds fully in At Speed.

  3. The Case of the Displaced Detective: Book 2

    The Case of the Displaced Detective: Book 2

  4. Which character do you most love, and why?

    I adore Holmes, always have, always will. He’s so brilliant, and so very human, at the same time. I wish he WAS real.

  5. What was the most difficult part of writing this book, and why?

    Keeping Holmes true to himself as Doyle created him, hands down. Holmes’ character and quirks are fixed. And here I was, putting him in a situation that would stretch his very reason to its limits – imagine being jerked from your own world, leaving everything and everyone you have ever known and loved behind, and transmitted 150 years into the future! And yet I still had to maintain the essential Holmes.

  6. If you were to pick a quote from the book to represent you, your writing, and what readers should expect from you, what would it be?

    “Everyone please stand behind the yellow line until the doors open. No food, drink, flash photography, or video cameras are permitted. Once aboard the ride, please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times until we come to a full and complete stop. Otherwise, they’re apt to end up in another universe somewhere without ya, and wouldn’t that fry your noggin?”
    —Skye Chadwick, The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival

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