It doesn’t hurt to use a search engine, I promise.

Come over here. Yes, you. Sit down right here beside me–we need to talk.

Look, I know you’re excited about writing a story set in a place you love, but have never been to. I understand, I do. Now, sweetness, it’s really really important to remember that there are people who live in the place you’ve chosen for your story’s setting, and that, particularly in the US, it’s likely they’ll have a chance to read it.

You see where I’m going with this, don’t you? Sh, no, just let me have my say, please. When you pick a particular location, you need to look up some fundamental basics. Check out the weather patterns, for instance, and look at the average temperatures for various times of the year. I’ve never been to New Orleans (argh argh argh), but I know that they don’t get hurricanes year-round. Kansas is not all corn fields and tornadoes 24/7/365. There are more cities in North Dakota than Pierre and Minot. Not everyone in Minnesota is decended from Scandanavian stock, eats hotdish, or is Lutheran (or all three at once).

If you can’t go to your chosen location for whatever reason–financial, familial, etc–then for the love of all that is seen and unseen GO TO THE LIBRARY. Use Google or whatever your search engine of choice is. Check out guidebooks, check out blogs from people living in the area (even if you do have to wade through the unpredictable results of machine translation), ask the people you know if they know anyone in [Wherever]. I personally know a guy who knows people in Finland, plus I know there’s a Finn on one of my mailing lists. If I want the lowdown on living on a farm just below the Arctic circle, I can ask them if they either know anything about it or know someone who does.

Please. It doesn’t take all that long — and if you’re like me and tend to get sidetracked, set aside a couple of hours one weekend and just get lost. Make notes and bookmarks, or copies, or whatever! It doesn’t matter if you ever use all of the information, but at least do your readers the courtesy of actually making the attempt.

Thanks for listening,

love,

A fan of Street View for finding neat-looking places

At least one of my senators Doesn’t Get It.

So I wrote to my congress people, and I got a nicely vague, waffley letter back from one of them. I know he’s just trying to keep everyone happy, but I don’t WANT vague and waffley, I want him to tell me he’s going to vote against the damn bill. Otherwise, it feels entirely too much like he’s just trying to keep me soothed and placated while he’s planning on voting FOR it.

Dude. I don’t want the internet to become TV. I don’t want to live in fear that some fuckwit griefer is gonna come across my site and decide to use SOPA/PIPA to fuck with me, just because they fucking CAN. Given what I write, it’s waaaaaay too likely that someone will use SOPA/PIPA to keep my stories offline.

I don’t want to see hundreds of thousands of forums, of stories, of creative and brilliant people to just disappear. Believe it or not, but someone has pirated First Flight — it turned up on ebookr.com, and I was both somewhat excited (someone thought it was worth stealing!) and annoyed (hey, someone stole First Flight! and the blurb, straight off Dreamspinner’s site…). I sent off a DMCA notice, and they, to their credit, responded appropriately. (In fact, they responded so quickly and politely that I’m seriously considering uploading a couple of my free reads.)

Do I spend hours of my day, trolling pirate sites, looking for anything of mine? No. If someone posts about a pirate site to one of the many mailing lists I’m on, I’ll go take a look, but until ebookr, I’d never found anything of mine. It’s not like it matters to people who pirate stuff — they’re gonna do it no matter what the law says. I’ll poke at pirates if I find them, but in general it’s not like it matters in the grand scheme of my writing life. Hell, at least they’re NOT trying to scrub my presence from the web — pretty much the opposite.

SOPA/PIPA are the antithesis of pirate sites in that regard. It wouldn’t affect the pirates at all, but it could–would–affect ME in a big way. Yeah, it would be nice if we could keep people from stealing stuff, but that’s just not going to happen. The internet is the best thing to happen to my life: it has brought me friends, it has expanded my horizons, it has allowed me to learn things I never would have even known I WANTED to learn. I want my internet to stay pretty much exactly the way it is, full of the sparkling dizzying array of wonder that is humanity. With SOPA/PIPA in place, the internet will likely become TV: catering to the lowest common denominator; run by people who think Jersey Shore and Desperate Housewives and I don’t even know what insipid sitcoms are on these days are what *I* want. I come to the internet to get AWAY from that crap, because no one asks me what *I* want — and it sure as hell isn’t THAT.

Dear World,

Hi!

It has come to my attention that even traditionally-published authors have trouble with this one, so I'm going to make it simple. 

"Bored of" is something small children say because small children are often grammatically challenged.

"Bored BY" or "bored WITH", on the other hand, is what those of us who've been around the block (whatever your particular block may consist of) say. 

"I am bored BY your inanity," she sighed. "And I am bored WITH this…. This… Whatever-it-is. Take it away."

Please. Learn the difference. 

Some love,

Me.