It’s that time of the week when I answer your anonymous questions about writing and all that stuff connected to it. Every Thursday, I’ll be answering two questions from the Big Damn Writer Question Box.
Month: September 2017
This is perhaps the sound that is most closely linked to my childhood. Well, this and the voice of the guy who used to lead the rosary in church and made the Hail Mary sound like a story. But this is definitely the frontrunner.
Pick up the shirt here, and choose which charity Radish Apparel donates a portion of the profits to!
Jealous Haters Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 4 The Empress, or “Star Trek Season 1 Episode 14 ‘Court Martial'”
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In Handbook For Mortals news this week, I visited my local Barnes & Noble, hoping to get a glimpse of the twenty-three-hour #1 New York Times Bestseller in the wild.
I started in Teen Fiction, but I couldn’t find anything between Sáenz and St. Claire:
But obviously, a bestselling YA phenomenon with a major motion picture in the works wouldn’t be on the same shelves as just any old YA. I decided to check the endcap.
That’s when I saw the table full of “must read” books for teens:
Well…maybe it was on the other side?
As I did another perusal of the Teen section, I realized I’d checked in the wrong spot, originally. Clearly, Handbook For Mortals belonged in Teen Fantasy & SciFi. I took a look.
Obviously, what had happened was Handbook For Mortals had sold out completely. I went to the info desk to see if they could tell me where all their copies had gone. The guy there had never heard of the book.
Someone working at Barnes & Noble had never heard of the #1 New York Times Bestselling novel Handbook For Mortals? But what about any publicity being good publicity? This employee had no idea about the controversy making this book so talked about, and said no one had ever come in looking for Handbook For Mortals, at least, not while he was working. He told me he could order it and showed me his computer screen, where about 2,500 copies were available from Ingram warehouses. For a New York Times bestseller, Handbook For Mortals doesn’t seem to have that many extant copies.
Let’s head into this chapter, which is going to actively try to gaslight you before the end.
Hey everybody! Last week there was no True Blood Tuesday because my computer was fucked up, and this week there’s no True Blood Tuesday because someone else’s child puked near me and the psychosomatic illness that has resulted has laid me low. Never fret, we’ll continue next week.
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It’s the Handbook For Mortals Twitter Round Up, y’all! YEEEEE-HAW!
Twitter user @TheSubliminator actually went to Lani Sarem and Paul Ian Nicholas Thomas Eric John James or whoever’s author event. Highlights include Sarem declaring “It’s not MY fault Angie is a black writer,” in regards to fraudulently knocking Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give from its #1 spot, and straight up plagiarizing Roald Dahl when she signs the damn book. Check out #23HourBS for details.
Why that hashtag name? Well, because Ms. Sarem and Mr. John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt are now advertising this book as a #1 New York Times Bestseller for twenty-three hours. Author L.L. McKinney made a Twitter moment about it.
If all of that wasn’t pathetic and enraging enough for you, definitely check out this thread by Jeremy West, in which he calls out another laughably bad attempt by Sarem and the Rookie Of The Year to make the book appear successful. Yes, they are absolutely still trying to claim that this book is a pop culture phenomenon.
If you need something to get the god awful taste of all of this out of your mouth, Snarksquad member and BookTuber @MyNameIsMarines is reading the book on the hashtag #SnarkForMortals. I highly encourage you to check her out.
Meanwhile, I apologize that this recap was delayed. Computer troubles. Namely, me absentmindedly drenching my keyboard with Windex while I tried to clean my desk. Thank you big time to everyone who donated via Kofi in the wake of this senseless tragedy.
Hey guys! This is a short update. If you follow me on Twitter, you have heard of my shitty weekend. Two cars, a refrigerator, my laptop and the only keyboard in the house compatible with my iMac broke. the fuck. down. Seriously. Then last night, our Kindle Fire remote stopped working and poor Mr.Jen was like, “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO US?!” But he’s been pretty dramatic recently, anyway.
The point is, the reason I haven’t had a Handbook For Mortals post this week so far is that I was having to use text-to-speech to write it, which makes everything take roughly twelve times longer than just typing. Trying to finagle rides for kids to appointments and activities without a car was equally time-consuming. Now, the reason I’m telling you all of this is that I’ve been very open with my mental health issues and I don’t want anyone to think I’m sliding back down to the low point I was at earlier in the year. I’m fine, just everything I own is broken.
That said, tomorrow there’ll be a Handbook For Mortals recap instead of the advice column, and then next week hopefully everything will be calmed down and returned to normal. In the meantime, I expressed myself through the medium of video. Please watch me talk about my creepy Anthony Head memorabilia collection:
Apologies in advance for the lack of captions. When I have a working keyboard, I will absolutely add some.
Anyway, I should have a new keyboard today, USPS willing. Cross your parts for me.
Finally, someone has lent a voice to a complaint I’ve had for years:
If you’d like to purchase this tee (and send some of the profit to a charity organization!), head on over to Radish Apparel.* They look like they’re having a sale right now, too, so it’s not too pricey!
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So, in Handbook For Mortals news, brace yourselves, because there is a lot. If you need a break, I encourage you to visit author Claribel Ortega’s Tumblr, where she’s writing an excellent Handbook For Mortals fanfic.
So, remember when Lani Sarem insisted that no one gamed the system, that her books weren’t bulk-ordered, that she played by the rules and was viciously robbed of her legitimate success by jealous haters? She hasn’t exactly changed her tune, but she’s definitely singing her sad song of lies in a different key. In an op-ed for Billboard.com, she writes:
If I had purchased the books directly from my distributor, Itasca Books, they would not count as sales for purposes of the New York Times list. If they were purchased from booksellers — brick and mortar or online — they would count. While I didn’t limit my purchases to only those booksellers involved in the Times list, I did purchase books in bulk from booksellers to resell them later at events.
But it’s not a scam, she argues. It’s publishing’s antiquated model that constrains artists that’s at fault for her con game:
What I have chosen to do is to build a community of interrelated fans at these 3D, real-time events. This is part of what I believe is an innovative strategy — one that is aimed at building an entire new franchise in the Hunger Games and Game of Thrones mold, yet without having to give up creative control and a huge cut of the revenue to some synergistic studio giant a la Disney or Fox.
What Sarem is describing here is indie publishing and indie film. It isn’t new or innovative to bring your book to a convention. Self-pub authors do it all the time. And it isn’t new or innovative to make a movie without a studio.
Sarem concludes by saying that she hopes the New York Times will return her book to its rightful #1 slot on their list, albeit with their bulk-sales indicator. But perhaps the most delusional part of her piece is that despite the laughably bad writing, lack of any major star attached to the project, and the total bungling of her brilliant con, Sarem still appears to believe that she’ll be starring in a major film franchise:
That is why we published the book with the film rights already in place, set to produce the first of up to five “Handbook for Mortals” films that will star, in the lead role, yours truly, alongside my producer and co-star, Thomas Ian Nicholas. If all goes well.
However, one amazing thing has come to light in the wake of allegations that Sarem wrote the infamous troll fic My Immortal. It has brought the actual author of My Immortal out of the shadows, and she has a memoir in the works. Because the story is too fascinating to be believed, I won’t say too much here, except that rarely has an internet mystery had such a satisfying and heart-wrenching conclusion.
As Sarem continues to name-drop her connection to various celebrities, especially her former ties to the band Blues Traveler (who fired her), let’s all sing a beautiful ode in her honor, to the tune of the band’s hit, “The Hook”:
It doesn’t matter what you sell
So long as you sell at conventions
It’s such a freakin’ unique way
To make the headlines through deception
And it’s not fair that you lost face
To all those nasty trolls and haters’ campaign
The New York Times should apologize
You’ll take that asterisk and tout it without shame
‘Cause the book brings you fame
From a spot you had to buy
The book brings you fame
You got caught because you lied
The YA world is gonna miss
The stellar prose you tried to bring them
Who wouldn’t want to read another teen witch
Who’s old enough to rent a car
You could have just written a screenplay
And shopped it around to your famous friends
When your biggest names are ’90s stars
Maybe a scam was the way to go
‘Cause the film won’t get made
With the guy from American Pie
The film won’t get made
Here’s a camera you can buy
Con and win, con and win, con and win
That’s the position that you are in
If they find out all the ways you sinned
There’s always blame to pin on the community
At least you get publicity
“A lot of folks are jealous of me”
You’ll just project your problems on the trolls
Go ahead and take somebody’s art all for yourself
Stage pictures of your books up on some shelves
Now change your name and hide
From the critics who deride and all the deceptions that you tried. Your career is fried,
it died, you killed it with your lies
And all the claims that we won’t buy
about the bullies at the New York Times
You said fuck all the rules
they don’t apply to Lani
That shit might fly in music
It’s much harder to sleaze your way into YA
You’re pissed that none of us wanna kiss your ass,
And we don’t want to read you
Act innocent and victimized
To try to make a buck
With names to drop, like Mall Cop
You’re delusional please stop because we’re
Not buying your crap
It’s embarrassing to watch
Please don’t bother to try
My apologies to John Popper for mangling his rhyme scheme.
Now, on to the recap!
In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone will probably die of sleep deprivation during this first week of school. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:
- Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
- Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
- Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
- Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
- Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
- The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
- All the monsters look like wieners.
- If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
- Angel is a dick.
- Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
- Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
- Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
- Science and technology are not to be trusted.
- Mental illness is stigmatized.
- Only Willow can use a computer.
- Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
- Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
- Oz is the Anti-Xander
- Spike is capable of love despite his lack of soul
- Don’t freaking tell me the vampires don’t need to breathe because they’re constantly out of frickin’ breath.
- The foreshadowing on this show is freaking amazing.
- Smoking is evil.
- Despite praise for its positive portrayal of non-straight sexualities, some of this shit is homophobic as fuck.
- How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?
- Technology is used inconsistently as per its convenience in the script.
- Sunnydale residents are no longer shocked by supernatural attacks.
- Casual rape dismissal/victim blaming a-go-go
- Snyder believes Buffy is a demon or other evil entity.
- The Scoobies kind of help turn Jonathan into a bad guy.
- This show caters to the straight/bi female gaze like whoa.
- Sunnydale General is the worst hospital in the world.
- Faith is hyper-sexualized needlessly.
- Slut shame!
- The Watchers have no fucking clue what they’re doing.
- Vampire bites, even very brief ones, are 99.8% fatal.
- Economic inequality is humorized and oversimplified.
- Buffy is an abusive romantic partner.
- Riley is the worst.
- Joss Whedon has a problem with fat people.
Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments. Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.
WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it.