A well turned ankle

On page three hundred and twenty two, your book contains the vile prurient words ‘In the privacy of her bedroom, with the curtains drawn and shutters closed Purity Smith stole a glance at her well-turned ankle.’ For this disgusting, lascivious piece of prose you are henceforth cast out of literary society and your works all to be destroyed. Such obscenity can never be tolerated.

By Order: The Special Prosecutor The State Council of Public Morality. 

Yes. Well the sight of a lady’s ankle was once considered rather risqué. And for some reason a pretty one was described as ‘well-turned’ – Which puts a whole new twist on turning your ankle —  And history’s worm turns too.

Of course, in reality, people went one with much the same conduct as today. It was just done in ‘secret’ and of course that was much better.

Well, according to some people anyway.

It was a bit like the log-rolling that went on in the SFWA Nebula nominations. Susie, Fred, Joe and Mary would nominate Pat. And then Fred, Mary, Joe, and Pat would nominate Susie. And in another category, oddly, Susie, Fred, Joe and Pat would nominate Mary… and so on. It was a bad joke, a mockery of the legitimacy of the Award. You could see all the nominators back in those days, and it was painfully obvious. A fair number of people – me among them – complained. The then president, John Scalzi, promised to do something about it. And he was as good as his word: he made the names of the nominators secret.

Strangely, the same clique of log-rollers went right on getting nominated. I’m sure it was pure chance that saw those same names on the Hugo noms too. Looking at the ‘me too’ coming out of Hollywood – which will, inevitably affect the writing world – I see the same sort of thing happening. Of course it won’t actually stop the casting couch, or actors and actresses giving sexual favors for roles. That would be hard and take real change. It’ll just hide it, make as if it isn’t happening.

I see a new ‘puritanism’ coming charging down the track at them, and probably us.

Shrug. You know mostly we just ride with the tide of the world. Contrary to the myth, authors rarely make popular opinion. At best we shape it a little. Populism works because… well, because it is popular. The Zeitgeist moves and so must we – or not (that is one’s own choice after all. It can destroy your sales, or, contrariwise, if you’re one of a few standing against the tide, give you enough readers to be able to).

I’ve managed to always write more or less within my principles and I’m not exactly a graphic pron writer, but I’m quite happy for it to float the boats of others. Puritanism will put some challenges up there, especially for the authors who rely heavily on sex or the shock value of sex. Fortunately, this too will change as it always does. My grand-kids will probably be able to enjoy the backswing.

On a separate tack – interesting post here from David Gaughran. It seems that scammers have been screwing with Amazon and that Amazon has come down hard… on innocent people doing promotions – which is rough if that is part of your business model, as it should be. It makes for uncertain ground. I’m honestly not sure what the final outcome is going to be, but it is certainly something that should make every author work on having their own mailing list, and look toward the possibility of selling their own work directly from that before you put it up on Amazon, and well before you go KU. I got an advert from Jetpack about taking payments for physical goods etc. for my WordPress Website, but selling e-books still seems too hard. Still, in small volumes I imagine manually sending an .epub file to individual customers would be a pain in the nether region, but possible. Anyone having better systems to suggest – I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one pleased to hear about it.

Anyway, forgive this being bit short today, but I managed to hurt myself today (just a stupid muscle injury that will get better quite soon) and am taking it to bed.

34 Comments

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34 responses to “A well turned ankle

  1. paladin3001

    On the coming new puritanism. If it comes it comes. Writers will just have to adjust. Of course it will make some genres really tricky.
    On the Amazon issue, they are the 800 pound gorilla in the room. They are the biggest seller of digital and self published books. They have also streamlined the indie publishing aspect. Unless someone else comes up with a similar type of platform we will just have to figure things out on our own and muddle along the best we can.

    • It’s already here. The thing to keep in mind is that context is everything. In an old Quaker church in Philadelphia, there was a stairway with a board along the bottom of the banisters to prevent the accidental glimpse of woman’s ankle. Yet if you had went to some Philadelphia taverns of the day, you might have seen more; you certainly would in a bawdy house.

      The next question is do writers want to crank out what would be considered disreputable. Since this also included politics, it’s not a new struggle for some of us.

      The amusing thing is that after all the years of claiming Christians wanted to bring about a return to Puritanism, it’s the secularlists on the left who’re doing just thatl.

  2. Christopher M. Chupik

    If the new puritanism does come, I’m sure that Chuck Tingle will find a way to do gay dinosaur ankle porn.

  3. Still, in small volumes I imagine manually sending an .epub file to individual customers would be a pain in the nether region, but possible.

    A web site that people log on to using Facebook or Google to paypal for access to content wouldn’t be too complicated to program. If you can’t find a usable alternative, I’ll do it.

  4. Sorry to hear that the stupid muscle is smarting. Good to hear that the smart muscle in your head is still working properly. *grin*

    Thinking about Amazon alternatives, what’s the components of an e-book sale? You need the digital thing, and a place to store it, send it and so on. So a hosting service, obviously. A way to take payments. Amazon payments is actually pretty good so far (paypal has been hit and miss, and people still remember the hacking). It needs to be properly exploited, so that means advertising.

    Hrm. Bootstrapping an alternative looks difficult. You’d want the ubiquity of Wal-mart for advertising, the trusted security of a bank, the ease of interface of McDonalds drive through… On a crackers and cheese budget, of course. *chuckle* The also-bot is a good thing for advertising, and well worth stealing if you’re going to compete (because for ad purposes that thing is gold).

    Find someone with enough money to hire the code-monkeys to bash together a thing, call it Libraphile or something, become big-name author/proprietor-of-ebook-sales, sleep the sleep of the just (on giant piles of money, of course). *chuckle*

    • Speaking of Walmart…
      https://www.walmart.com/cp/books/3920

      Most of what’s on walmart.com is sold by partners, not Walmart itself (tho Walmart backs returns to any store; since some of the vendors seem a little dodgy, I’ve asked). I have no idea what the process is to get accepted but seems to me it shouldn’t be too onerous for a small bookseller…

      Well, here it is:
      https://marketplace.walmart.com/

      Competitive with Amazon? I have no idea, but their “referral fee” for books is just 15%.

    • The big problem I foresee with selling directly is collecting sales taxes. You may have two or three layers, depending on your local, state, and federal tax policies. That’s one thing that’s kept me from going wide with sales like I did when I started.

  5. Luke

    I opened the page and thought to myself, “Crap. Dave’s on crutches.”
    I’m very happy to be mistaken.

    As to sex scenes, I’ve gotten cranky about them in my middle age. They almost never add anything to the plot or characterization. (I especially get cranky about it with respect to stories like Stardust. Which would be wonderful for my kids to read–if it weren’t for the completely gratuitous scene of graphic sex.)

    That said… I also remember being younger. When the internet didn’t yet exist, and it was much easier to get a Heinlein than a Hefner. So I get that a significant portion of the audience wants the titillation. And most of the time I won’t complain much about the author throwing them a cookie (or cheesecake). But there comes a time when a cookie isn’t just a cookie, if you know what I mean. (A daytime nightmare for the Halloween season: Your wife calls on her cell to let you know that she and your daughters are trapped in an elevator. With a famous author. Named George.)

  6. The New Puritanism is much the same as the old one. New names, new topics, same BS. Everyone will adjust as in the past.

    Getting old sucks. I did something to my foot the other day. I was walking out to the car and the top of my foot started hurting. After a couple of dozen steps it stopped hurting on top and started hurting on the side. Now it seems to be alternating between just above my ankle to just below. Luckily I can get in to see the chiropractor today. Stupid age and it’s privilege.

  7. Sneaking change into writing. THe quotation is from my new novel “Minutegirls”. The conversation is in 2174 between Gustaphson (who would already be an old man in 2017) and Grant (who is in his early 20s).

    “”It’s a religious reference. ‘That which signifies least is the most important to know.’ I suppose Morbius does not dwell on his being a Gowist. In any event, the instruction was that we must talk about something that has nothing to do with your duties before we can get back to your data. So, ask!” Gustaphson ordered.

    A slight smile came to Grant’s lips. Sometimes obeying orders could be very helpful. “It’s a dumb historical question. But–when I was younger I used day’s spare time on the net searching, and never found a clue–It must have been so obvious no one ever wrote it down.” Gustaph son nodded. “Before genegineering, it said in your book on The Boss Himself, girls were much shorter than guys. So I’m 5’9″, meaning that a tall girl might have been 5’6″, not Sandra’s 5’11”, and not Sandra’s strength, either.”

    “Precisely correct,” answered Gustafson. “And I watched your group playing basketball, Miss Miller slamdunking over your head. In the mid-1970s — there was one woman I saw drop something through the basket, once, and she was the best player of her generation, by a lot. She was your height, though, not quite Miss Miller’s height, though. And the question?”

    “How did guys ever find anyone to take out on a date?” Grant stammered.

    “Same methods as now, I think,” answered Gustafson, “though Feynmann’s method — read his book — then worked only for him.”

    “Well, ummh, what I meant is: If all the girls are real real short, four inches shorter than guys or more — and people back then were a lot more different in how tall they were, so some people were a foot and a half taller than others — how would a guy like me or someone taller ever find a girl my height?…to take out on a date?” Grant asked.

    Gustafson looked thoughtful, then held up his hand for silence. “When I read young people’s magazines, the ideal girl is your own height.” Grant nodded. “When I was a young man, the ideal height difference was four or six inches. The fellow was supposed to be taller. I think. If I remember correctly. It’s been a while. But the generation before mine was shocked at the idea of a woman dating a shorter man. Or was it taller? Shorter, I think. Curiously–I occasionally asked–I never found anyone who ever heard a reason why. That’s just the way most people were brought up.” Grant looked baffled. “It’s a social custom. It’s not hardwired. Download the last two centuries of Playboy centerfolds. Look at what someone thought female beauty was. It’s wandered a lot. Even if you skip the 20’s — that’s the 2020s — and the lard barrel look, and the late 80s — 1980s, sorry, and the,” Gustafson stretched his memory, “the wet cat look.”

    “Wet cat look?” Grant asked.

    “Imagine a cat that has just been dropped unexpectedly into warm water. It is displeased. Now morph that into a person. You’ll know it, young man, if you ever have the misfortune to see it. As a general rule, a MinuteGirl with that look on her face is optimistically contemplating the pleasures of mayhem.” Gustafson continued. “In any event, it’s not written down. It’s just that customs change a lot with time. And I’ve seen more time than almost anyone else. The stricture–so you can tell Morbius you learned something when he asks–is that the people who perpetually rant ‘when I was a young man’ adjust very poorly to immortality. So some of them emigrate to Harmony or Chastity or Robert James. They were the smart ones. The dumb ones–future shock kills, and some dumb people are very shocked by very little.”

    “I see, sir,” Grant said. Rather, he thought to himself, I suppose I will see. Morphing an annoyed cat sounded truly strange.

    “And now we can look at your data,” Gustaphson announced. “Because know I can honestly say we discussed something that has absolutely no relationship to anything you do while in Morbius’s service, you not getting the time to remember that there is an opposite sex, let alone do anything about the situation.”

  8. Gee, I got that review!
    These days I put warnings in most of my blurbs, to make it CLEAR to people that there may be some things that they’re not comfortable with. So then when they write a bad review because there’s something in the book tht they were warned about, people can mock them.
    Kind of sad that it still happens. But it does.

  9. On the Amazon thing.
    I’m not familiar with the case in question, so I can’t comment on that one particularly. However, it’s been my experience that the vast majority of people who get in trouble with Amazon, were in fact, scamming Amazon.
    I’ve seen very famous authors do it, and get away with it.
    I’ve seen new and up and coming ‘legitimate’ authors admit to blatantly buying reviews on Kboards as little as 6 months ago.
    I’ve seen all sorts of people whining about stuff, that when you go and talk to them, the truth comes out that they were in fact trying to scam Amazon.

    This is why I no longer an on several of the major indy FB boards and indy websites. I got tired of the hypocrisy. So I just quit.

    That being said, yes, occasionally people get caught up in the bot farms as they try to set up ways to make their bots look ‘legitimate’ but those cases are rare. And it’s fairly common for many of these ‘legitimate’ promotion sites to actually engage in conduct that is against the rules that Amazon goes by. Those promo sites make their money on results, and they really don’t care if some of their customers get in trouble, because they already got paid.
    As the author, it’s up to you to examine the promo sites techniques and what Amazon’s ever changing ruleset allows and doesn’t allow. Fiver used to be totally legit, three years ago. Now? Now I won’t use them. Honestly I’ve been avoiding a lot of the promo sites these days because the ones that work and are legit often seem to charge more than you’ll make off of them anyway.

    If you have a problem with Amazon, the first thing to do is contact them by telephone, write a letter to Bezos as well. That will often generate a phone too. I’ve had some wonderful conversations with people from Amazon, both good and not so good. Yes, Amazon is having problems with scammers, major ten to fifty million dollars a month problems. So they’re being aggressive about going after it now.

    Bottom line: Now isn’t the time to engage in any behavior that might get you in trouble, and that means you need to be very careful about just who you engage for promotions, and just what their techniques are. A lot of promotions that used to be okay have now been banned. You need to know and understand that.

  10. I turned to go down the hall last Monday, and ended up lying on the floor in abject pain. My ‘good’ knee let go. Awesome. So I was on two canes for a couple of days until it decided to behave again.

    Thankfully I still heal pretty good. Now I’m back to no-canes, but I’m walking a lot more carefully than usual.

    The new Puritanism is here already, it is the SJWs. They’re the ones making all the ruckus about Weinsteining in Hollyweird. Their Twitter attacks against YA authors and their Shirtstorms etc. are the typical tale told by an idiot. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Also, the Hollyweird set are looking really bad right now, all their SJW cred has evaporated like snow in July.

    Normal people have made their opinions known in the most powerful way. They have stopped watching television and stopped going to movies. In droves. There are two HUGE flops this week, in a year of multiple megabuck flops. “Geostorm” the enviro-scolding flick and “Snowman” the pervy serial killer flick are on glidepath to crash and burn this weekend. Geostorm may lose a hundred million bucks.

    There is a limit to the amount of money an economic entity can lose, before it dies. There is even a limit to governments. Ask the Soviets, their arrangement died of cancer in the 1990’s. Eaten from within by corruption.

    Hollywood is another economic edifice being eaten from within by the cancer of corrupt practices. Chief among them, unions. On any American movie set there are dozens of people standing around, paid to do one thing and one thing only. When they aren’t doing that one, single thing, they stand idle. That’s why American movie companies are happy to do business with China. The Communist Party apparatchiks have demands that are less expensive than the AFL-CIO reps, and the bribes are smaller.

    The problem they have is that corruption gets on everything. If the actresses are struggling with bulimia and suicidal ideation because they had to Weinstein to get the part, and the actors are likewise afflicted because they knew about it and did nothing, how good a performance are they going to turn out?

    Kind of like the log-rolling thing. If the awards are corrupt, then creative works of honest people cannot rise to gain the notice of readers. This is what we see in Hollywood. Zero fun and exciting ideas. We get Frankenstein replayed over and over again. Result? Geostorm, about to lose a hundred megabucks.

    So, when the neo-Puritan SJWs come pounding on my door, I’ll be giving them this:

    Feet in the hallway announced Clytemnestra’s approach. She appeared in the doorway, clad in a long robe like Sandra’s. White terry cloth, fluffy, big collar. Unlike Sandra, she hadn’t bothered with the belt. Or any other garments. Her thick silver hair hung down her back, almost to her waist. She posed in the doorway for them, and made kissy faces at Sandra.
    “Nice outfit, Nessie,” commented Brunhilde. “You forgot a few things, though.”
    “Did I?” exclaimed Nessie, looking down in exaggerated confusion. “I was sure I had everything.”

    Take that, finely-turned ankles.

  11. My sympathies about the muscle aches. I discovered that I had inherited a lumbar spine problem one morning seven years ago and have been a bit careful since then. If not, well, I’ve collapsed onto the floor more than once, which tends to inspire distress in those around me. (“Hey, get up! You’re blocking the stairwell!” being one of the gentler salutations.)

    What’s always funny to me is that the original Puritans weren’t Puritanical at all. Prone to sue each other at the drop of a hat? Yup. Opposed to what they saw as quasi-paganism and wasting of time and resources? Indeed. Anti-corruption, be it moral or political? Absolutely yes. Unwilling to talk about sex or to enjoy same? Oh heck no! Heck, some of their religious mystical writings make St. John of the Cross look like a prude. And their other things? They were positively Elizabethan in their enjoyment of bodily congress within marriage.

    • It’s like the old joke about how Catholics are supposedly hung up about sex: then where do all the babies come from?

    • Robin Munn

      … the original Puritans weren’t Puritanical at all.

      So very much this. I’ve read several articles that quote various Puritan writers or pastors, either writing or preaching about “conjugal love” (their term) in unambiguously positive terms.

      There’s also one incident that I’ve heard about but haven’t been able to find a citation for (the person who told me couldn’t remember where he heard about it), and maybe you might know enough to help me track it down. Supposedly, a wife came to the elders’ meeting of a Puritan church to complain that her husband was not fulfilling his conjugal duties towards her (in modern terms, we’d say that he was refusing to have sex with her). The elder board questioned him and he admitted it, and they told him, “You’re sinning against your wife. Stop it, and give her her conjugal rights.” Some time later, she came to them a second time with the same complaint. Again, they questioned the husband, he admitted it, and they rebuked him. She came back to them a third time with the same complaint (and the husband admitted it again), and this time they granted her a divorce (a VERY unusual thing, I’m sure, among the Puritans).

      Have you heard of that story? If so, do you happen to know whether it’s an actual incident that’s documented, or essentially an urban legend with no proof?

    • Terry Sanders

      This (Puritanically speaking). They made all the rules because they *knew* how enjoyable it is. And how easily enjoyment can turn into addiction, if you don’t remember there’s more to it than enjoyment.

      To my mind, the big mistake they made was trying to run their communities as if they were monasteries. No allowances for the ones who *didn’t* sign up for it–including their own children. What’s reasonable to a volunteer can easily seem like tyranny to someone who’s trapped there. Puritanical, even.

  12. Sympathies to all of you who are unwell. One might wonder how some of these book selling places would handle a new Judy Bloom, whose fictional teenagers at one time would indulge not always successfully in the sin of fornication, described in some immodest detail, or the Junior High and Middle School libraries that stock the books of Jean Auel.

  13. mrsizer

    Someone here linked to Lindsey Borouker’s (sp?) Ruby Lionsdrake experiment. Fun books, but lots of graphic sex; it does get old. “Customers also Read” recommendations are the same (not terribly surprising).

    What I’ve found interesting about Sci Fi Romance is that the real difference is just focus. Instead of “Aliens invade, and btw Mary and Tom get together” it’s “Mary and Tom get [quite graphically] together, and btw aliens invade.” I noticed this because Anna Hackett’s Hell Squad is very much like Falling Skies with lots of sex.

    I really like the very short titles because you can read the book-in-series number on the Kindle. Orion – Star Guardians 1 is much better than Dawn of Destiny: Age Of Magic – A Kurtherian Gambit Series (A New Dawn Book 1). I can’t see the “Book 1” part unless I open the book.

  14. I was expecting that to end with your statement that you turned your ankle well.

    Ah well, rest up whatever and get better soon, sir.

  15. Isn’t “well-turned” a carpentry and furnituremaking image?

    Sounds like a Dyce mystery….

    • Terry Sanders

      Yup. That was the original image. “He did a good job of lathe work on that one, didn’t he?” Kinda like “Boy, is she built!”

  16. Anne M

    Talking with indie knitting and sewing e-pattern sellers might be useful. The files are a lot smaller, but many seem to be available directly from the maker. There is also an aggregate site, for knitting, called Ravelry, but I don’t know if it actually serves up the patterns, or if it “just” a clearing house to help potential buyers find what they want. (It does networking things for knitters, also).