Archive for the ‘Rant Alert’ Category

The Schrödinger’s Cat of the Bedroom. Rant Alert

Sunday, February 18th, 2024

Are Women Real People?

The Bechdel test assists in determining whether the women in a scene or work of fiction (any media) are a representation of real women or simply props. To pass the test there must be a scene without men in it in which the women talk about something other than men. I want to propose a corollary test, the Jewel test, let’s say. It applies to heterosexual sex scenes.

The test is simple enough. Has the woman been given any internal reason for wanting to have sex with this guy? Is there any possibility she will say no?

No None Not at All

Too often the answer is no, none, not at all.

He need not be handsome or attractive but she must be beautiful. He’s the hero! He deserves her beauty and his orgasm. Her consent arises from his hero-ness and therefore there’s no reason for him to wonder if he has obtained her consent. He need not woo or impress her or spend even a moment wondering if something bad might happen to her because of his desire. She is the Schrödinger’s cat of the bedroom. She has no feelings or thoughts of her own.

If  the hero thinks of her outside the bedroom, the odds that she will die increase exponentially.

I am so tired of the hero’s sexual just desserts without considering of his true worthiness of the woman. I am sick of nudity warnings that mean the woman will be completely naked and that the most we’ll see of the hero is his naked upper back and potentially his front chest.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

 

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My Immortals Series Re-Cover Did Not Go Smoothly

Saturday, October 21st, 2023

New Covers!

As previously mentioned, after some market research, I decided the books in the My Immortals series needed new covers. Getting new covers took longer than I liked, but I was extremely budget conscious this time and can’t really complain that each cover was handled as separate project. It got done, and I am very happy with the result. The new covers fit in with the current paranormal romance market.

And Then There Was Amazon

I started uploading at the various vendors, starting with Amazon. I do two print versions through Amazon. One is for Libraries and bookshops. That version is priced very high in order to accommodate the discounting needed and it uses an Amazon supplied ISBN. I do another version using my own ISBN which I price as low as possible so that print readers have the most affordable option. These two versions are identical as to content and cover.

Some additional context: For all of my books, I use a logo for my imprint, cJewel Books, which is registered to me at Bowker and therefore connected to my ISBNS. I commissioned the logo in 2015 and use it on all my books. For print books, the logo appears on the back cover. For EVERY SINGLE BOOK. Here’s the full color logo:

Image that looks like a combination of book pages and a gem. The text cJewel Books appears underneath

The Logo

I love the logo, by the way and I like the continuity it gives. I have been using this logo since 2015. Some more context here. Some of the new covers use the same model as the original cover. Some used new images. All the covers have the same background. I did update some back matter in the eBooks so that the flow was more efficient and more conducive to readers having an easy opportunity to get the next book. There were no changes to the print interiors. The only change was the cover.

For all but two of the books, the uploading went just fine, eBook and print. But for some reason Amazon had a hissy fit about one of the print covers for My Demon Warlord. They started by asking me to prove I had the publishing rights. Even though nothing had changed but the cover and even though the updates were coming from the same account that originally published the book. Amazon “helpfully” has a list of acceptable proof. Unfortunately for self-publishers, none of the acceptable proof applies. My Demon Warlord was never traditionally published. I wrote it my own self for my own publishing career. Amazon explicitly states that it’s not enough to say, but I wrote it! Copyright registration is also not proof they will accept.

At first, I replied that they should be able to tell that the same account was involved in the update and that the only change was the cover. I provided all the ISBNs and pointed out they were registered to me or CreateSpace. This was not sufficient. Then I sent images from my Author Central account showing that both print versions had been verified by Amazon–meaning they agreed that all versions of the book were mine. They cleared the book. Yay, right?

NOPE

I got another notice asking for the same proof, which I sent. Again. One of the print versions was cleared. Yay! Right?

NOPE Again

I got another notice for the OTHER print version asking for the same proof which I sent again. This was disallowed. WTAF? So I sent the information AGAIN and pointed out the history on this and tried to stay polite. Then I got a notice saying they had cleared the book. Yay! Right?

NOPE AGAIN

Yes, they agreed I had the right to publish the book but now they believed I did not have the right to all the images in the cover and to please send proof that the images were properly licensed. Recall that all these books have the same exact background and the they’d cleared an identical version earlier in the day. My Demon Warlord, originally published in 2016, is one of the books where I was using the same model as my original cover. You’d figure this means the problem had to be in the background images  (shared by ALL the covers). Yet all the other books were successfully updated with the new covers. I asked the cover designer to send me the licenses for all the images in that book. I also attached the invoice for my logo, because honestly, I am pretty certain they were having a fit over that. Fortunately, the 2015 invoice was readily available to me because taxes and business expenses.

Meanwhile . . .

Amazon sent me another notice asking me to prove my right to publish My Immortal Assassin. ::Sigh::: All because I updated the cover. Fortunately/Ironically? My Immortal Assassin was traditionally published and I have my reversion letter. I keep all my reversion letters readily available because I have other books where I have been asked 3-4 times to prove my right to publish the book. For some books, I have sent my reversion letter 3-4 times. Anyway, I pointed out the only change was a new cover, same account, blah blah blah, but here is the reversion letter AGAIN. They accepted this proof since a reversion letter is on Amazon’s acceptable proof list.

Finally?

Anyway, Amazon has finally cleared My Demon Warlord. But is this over? Who knows.

Some Thoughts

I suspect this entire process never once involved a human on Amazon’s side. I suspect I could have sent an image of my cat as proof of my right to publish and their automated system would have said, hey, proof is attached! You’re good. I suspect that once a book is flagged they double down and match book images to images on stock sites and that since my logo is not a stock image, they decided I was stealing.

Several things are obvious to me. Amazon has an unintelligent algorithm that misses some pretty obvious rules. Such as, if they have previously vetted an account’s publishing rights to a book, they do not need to confirm those rights ever again. When the same account updates a previously cleared book, they don’t need to clear it again.

This process is everything that is wrong with Amazon and more. All I did was update covers for books Amazon has already agreed I have the right to publish. How hard it it, really, for them to check that, and what does it say about how bad their backend system is that they don’t/can’t do this?

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Did You Ever?

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

Need to do one simple thing on your computer and end up spending all day doing computer updates and installs?

And then get almost nothing actually done, including that one simple thing? Because that’s me today.

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Customer Service – A Rant

Sunday, August 26th, 2018

If you’re reading this, congratulations to us all because it means my move to a new webhost was successful.  I’d been with my previous webhost for over ten years and they were really stellar. If there was a problem it got fixed quickly and courteously. I feel it’s not unrelated, given the story I’m about to tell you, that the person who handled most of the issues I had was a woman who recently left that company.

I was surprised when the security certificate on my site didn’t/couldn’t renew. I contacted my host about why it hadn’t renewed and the response was “You don’t need a cert because you don’t sell anything on your website.”

Notice that this does not respond in any way to my request. Note as well that the customer service rep is wrong. Deeply wrong, in fact.

For the last two years at least Google has been downranking websites that don’t run on SSL (That is, has a security certificate and is https:// rather than http://) and by now users are seeing warnings when they land on a site that isn’t running on SSL. Not to mention an expired cert will cause all kinds of problems for a website.

This is an experience women have all the time. They get worse customer service and more roadblocks in the way of that service. I opened a ticket about why an existing cert hadn’t renewed and the answer to me, someone with an obviously female name, was to question my need for a service I was using. At every step, in fact, my issues were not taken seriously.

On top of this add that these tech support people did not understand certs and how their backend requires they be set up for the customer, and the problem is even worse.

What’s in a Name? Customer Service

The short version of this tale is that I spent from the 14th to 20th explaining over and over what they needed to do and telling them that their changes actually made things worse and had ended up breaking my email. There  was a string of responses over those days that were all basically, we fixed this, please reply to the cert email we are sending you, an email  I was not getting (if they were actually sending it which I doubt because they were doing it wrong) because they broke my email. And if was wasn’t that, it was, please send us the error messages and tell us exactly what the problem is and I kept saying, OK, but look at in the thread of this ticket where I already did that, but here it is AGAIN.

Carolyn Not Charles

It was worse than that, way worse. And I’m just going to say that if my name was Charles Jewel my cert would have been renewed on the first day and I would still be their customer.


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Mind The Gap

Friday, November 24th, 2017

There is a happy ending to my story so I’m able to tell you about the nightmare of the past 12 hours. Being the geek that I am, I have an iPhone X. In fact, it arrived just this Tuesday, so on Thursday, my phone (which I LOVE so far) still had that new phone smell. Folks, the iPhone X is a religious experience for me. I really, really, really like this phone.

Thursday evening I was getting in the car for a short but necessary drive, and I put my phone down in the center console near the middle of the seat. Only the phone slipped into the gap between the seat and the side of the console and then slid completely out of sight. Completely. It was NOT underneath the seat. After 45 minutes of me, my son, and my sister trying to even see where it was and get it out, we failed. I resigned myself to having to go to my mechanic to have the front seat removed in order to retrieve the phone from the innards of the driver’s seat.

Important note: my son insisted that the phone was underneath the center console. To which I replied, “No, it can’t be. I saw it slide underneath the seat.” In the opposite direction.

My phone and I were forced to spend the night apart for the first time in our nascent relationship. The horror. Also, the horror of realizing that I would not be able to easily access any of the sites where I have enabled 2-Factor Authentication and ACK HOW DOES ANYONE FUNCTION WITHOUT A PHONE?????

This morning, I had to call ON A LAND LINE— what even is that? —to tell my mechanic that I had a car emergency and to be prepared for my immanent arrival. I then drove immediately there. Two people tried to find my phone. We were about to set about removing the front seat when a third person said he’d try, and after calling my phone several times he too said the phone was under the center console. He fetched a thingamajig and two minutes later he handed me my phone. They didn’t even charge me.

I HAVE MY LIFE BACK!!!

When I got home, I stuffed some cloth in the gap so if this happens again, me being somewhat klutzy, the phone will not slip down like that.

When my son gets up, I will tell him that he was right, and I was wrong, and I don’t even care because I have my phone back, and besides, you have to admit when you’re wrong like that.

 

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Who Gets to Talk

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

So, the other day, Richard Spencer, whose goal is to one day have a Whites only State, had his Twitter account reinstated and verified by Twitter. Let’s be blunt, since I get to talk here in this space; Spencer is a White Supremacist. His views are hateful and vile. In the US, with certain narrow exceptions, the government cannot interfere with his right to say vile things.

Twitter has always said they value free speech. Even speech that others don’t like. Twitter is not the government, however. It’s their platform, and they get to set the rules of engagement. Twitter recently shut down ISIS related accounts. I’ve not heard they’ve been reinstated and verified.

What Twitter has done is say that this white male voice counts more than all the voices that have been and will be silenced or driven off the platform. They’d rather let this man speak than all the others Spencer and people like him target.

This isn’t an isolated experience.

Woman after woman after woman after woman, especially women of color, have been and are currently silenced because Twitter allows accounts that spew hatred to continue spewing hatred. They do this without giving the targets of that hated any tool to stay safe on Twitter or in their real lives.

Right now, there are a bunch of righteous white men at Twitter going, yeah, he’s vile, but he gets to speak! Free speech!

They say that because they’re part of the problem. They can’t hear women and people of color. They never have. They don’t hire these voices (because MERITOCRACY!!). And if somehow they do, they don’t listen to them.

Twitter gave Spencer back his voice back because the white men of Twitter, quite literally, cannot hear all the voices their policies and inaction have silenced. They think they’ve make a difficult decision to allow a man to voice his hatred. At twitter, one white man still counts more than a person of color or a woman.

If that weren’t true, there’d be effective tools for the targets of hate speech to keep their voices and their safety.

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Penguin

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

So, I saw the penguin video,* which depicts penguins fighting for the right to perpetuate the species.

I am totally cool with the nature thing of penguins. The narration, however, is NOT a nature thing. The narration is exactly the kind of bullshit that reinforces the message that male humans have a right to female humans and that violence is A-OK in enforcing that right.

Because lookit. Penguins are not people. They do not live by the norms of human culture. The female penguin wasn’t anybody’s wife. Male Penguin No 1 was not her husband. In fact, that male penguin had exactly ZERO right to the female penguin. ZERO.

Allow me to provide a different script:

Here is a female penguin with a Hot Stuff male penguin she believes is way more likely to be right for raising the kids successfully than the loser she used to be with. OH NO!!! Here comes that loser asshole male penguin No 1 who was such a major mistake. Now hot stuff and asshole are fighting! Wow. That is a lot of blood, but when a female penguin finds a better mate, an asshole’s gonna be an asshole and someone’s gonna lose.

I submit that this is an equally valid narration to what National Geographic supplied.

Thank you.

*Google Penguin Video, but be warned it’s bloody with bonus human misogyny

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Period

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

So there I was on my lunch hour revising a scene in the MS when I suddenly needed to know a bit more about what women used when they had their periods. (This is for Surrender to Ruin, a historical romance, fyi). I had some ideas, but it’s always nice to do some research on such points. So off to Google I went. Fairly quickly, and not unexpectedly, I found that documentation is somewhat sparse.

This should be obvious to you-all, right? Not only is this a 100% female related event, but no one wrote much about going to the toilet etc. We know something about what people used for toilet paper in the Medieval era because there are a few places where conditions ended up preserving the material — moss, for example. But it’s not something people wrote down and then saved for posterity. I did not expect to come across copious documentation.

But I did expect to find some scholarly speculation. My quick and dirty research came to a quick halt when I came across this article about what American and European woman might have done historically. Why this would be materially different from what women all over the world have done, I’m not sure, but people specialize in all sorts of arcane areas.

The author notes that ancient Egyptians made tampons and mentions evidence in other countries that women used rags and other materials such as sheep wool wrapped in cloth. So far I was thinking, yeah. This sounds totally reasonable. Some of this evidence includes European women. And then the author says:

“Read why I have concluded, in May 2001, that most European and American women probably used nothing at all, bleeding into their clothing.”

Here is a representation of my reaction:

What do you mean my files are gone?

What????

The article gets even more ridiculous. Apparently, several woman contacted him to relate their actual personal knowledge of what their relatives did, many of said relatives having been born in the late 1800’s. Some of those people were actual historians with actual evidence. Those emails are posted, along with rebuttals.

Rebuttals. Please go on. Tell us more about your theory that defies logic and actual experience of the subject matter.

My suspicion that the author had never had a period turned out to be correct. The author is a man. And in epic fashion, he has decided that he, a person who has never menstruated, can deduce what women did and to hell with all historical evidence and the women who basically said a nice version of “You are an idiot, and here is why.”

No woman would decide she’d just bleed into her clothes, particularly when the vast majority of women would not have been able to afford to replace their clothing that often. There would be evidence of blood-stained clothing. There would be references to the epic consumption of shifts among the female population. There would be references to monthly replacements of mattresses among those who could afford them.

As a person who has personally experienced periods, I can say with 100% confidence that no woman would just bleed into her clothes as a matter of course. It’s just so ignorant and insulting. I can’t even.

I will leave you with one of my favorite videos by one of my favorite YouTubers, Sabrina, of Nerdy and Quirky, in which she addresses the subject of period euphemisms. Enjoy.

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The Disguise of Author Services

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

Here’s what I’m starting to dread and despise. I hear an interview with an author of fiction, and talk about their fiction etc and what they did to publish and market. And then there’s something along the lines of “Oh, and I put together this free resource, go here to check it out!”

And you do, and every damn one follows the same website format. A long, long, long, long page where you keep getting a bunch of marketing language, usually with big bright arrows and buttons, and all you really want to know is where you can get the material promised at the website/interview, which eventually you do get, along with the requirement that you turn over your email and HEY, HERE’S SOME PAID CONTENT where I tell more more stuff.

And then the content you were promised is really nothing that any reasonably informed author doesn’t already know. And ALL THESE GUYS — because they’re all guys, it turns out, actually got their start in non-fiction of some vague business-y content, and if they write fiction, they often won’t reveal the name their fiction is written under — OR they won’t reveal the name their non-fiction is under.

Because their real business is selling “self-help” which is either completely inappropriate for fiction or is something every dialed in romance author already knows. You have to have a great cover!!! OMG. WHO FUCKING COULD EVER HAVE GUESSED THAT!!!! You have to use the right keywords. Like some how that’s the formula for cold fusion which you can ONLY get from them because they are being so generous. You need a great cover blurb!  Really? Like that isn’t obvious? You need reviews! And on and on and on and just shut up already.

And then it starts to turn out that all these guys know each other from before they started writing fiction/selling self-help to authors.

And I am just really cynical now and it makes me want to cry. That’s all.

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Harlequin is a Publisher of Books not an Attribute of The Uterus

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

Sally Jenkins over at the Wapo just blew my mind with this article about the 2016 Summer Olympics. The minute I read about NBC’s plan to time delay on the west coast (where I happen to live) I knew I wouldn’t bother watching. I was already pretty sure I wouldn’t because the last few Olympics I’ve been all “Where’s The Sports??”

Did I mention that I read Romance novels? Yeah. I write them, too. Just putting that out there.

I can get Olympic results for all the sports on twitter. I wish those tweets came with video because I would click the hell out of those. I love the Olympics. I even like lots of sports. True, I’m not a nutso fan of ALL the sports, but I do enjoy watching the very best compete in most all the sports.

The Olden Days, When the Olympics were Manly

Way back in olden times, when I lived in Berkeley and cable TV was brand new and cost me $10 a month, the Olympics came along, as they do, and they had this package where for some amount affordable for me, as a single lady underpaid in her job because, hey, lady person! (words overheard just prior to my leaving the then current job “We can’t pay [male person in a significantly junior position] you more than the lowest paid senior person.” And then my salary got named. Apparently they were later shocked that I was upset by being the lowest paid person and even more upset that I quit. Why didn’t I just ask for a raise? Well, to me, why didn’t you decide you should better compensate your lowest paid but highest performing person? To me, you don’t get to keep employees you fuck over like that. But I digress. One more digression. My office was right outside the men’s room and I was regularly treated to hallway conversations about blow jobs and discussions of the attributes of female employees. Apparently, they thought I was deaf.)

Please sir, may I have another insult?

Anyway I signed up for the Olympics plan way back because you could watch EVERYTHING LIVE and then again later when it was re-broadcast in a West Coast time zone. It was awesome. I watched all kinds of sports. Live and rebroadcast because a girl’s gotta sleep, right? And read and write romance.

And now, Sally Jenkins and the folks over at NBC are at last correcting me of my love of actually watching Olympic events and reading and writing Romance. I did not know those two things were mutually exclusive. I did not know that if you read and write Romance you are, de facto, not a sports fan who we all know would never ever in a million years enjoy romance reading, so the only way to show me and other lady folks the Olympics is to pretend the Olympics is a romance novel without the need to show any sports hardly.

Because, am I right? Romance reading is so horrible and readers of Romance are such an inferior class of lady persons,  and are so incompatible with anything like sports and the Olympics that when you’re trying to point out how badly NBC is fucking this up for everyone and especially women athletes that Romance readers are TOTALLY the correct simile here.

Romance reading = HORRIBLE STUPID NO ONE WANTS SPORTS IN THEIR STORIES. EWW!
NBC is trying to Romancify the Olympics OMG.

Harlequin is a Publisher of Books not an Attribute of The Uterus

The use of the word “Harlequin” as your straw man, oops! Straw lady, is the first sign that you have failed the intellectual rigor test of your comparison.

Here. Let me fix your complaint about NBC so it works.

NBC is pandering to what men WISH was true about women. That wish is based on stereotype, misogyny, and cliche. There is nothing in NBC’s programming anywhere that suggests they understand what kind of programming women would actually like to see. Women viewers, even viewers who read and write Romance, are also actual sports fans who would like to see actual sports in the Olympics and we would also like to see the female athletes treated in a manner that respects their personhood and their athletic achievements.

The only connection to Romance novels is in the minds of the idiots at NBC and, apparently, Sally Jenkins.

 

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