There will always be naysayers

Yesterday was one of those days every writer hopes for. That day when someone mentioned your book on social media and the result was a nice bump in sales. (Thanks, Sarah!) But along with that nice bump came the naysayers, reminding me why I should never read the comments. It also brought home something we need to remember as readers–remember and try to correct. Those who have something to bitch about seem to be more willing to write about the perceived issue than those who have enjoyed the book and who may have verbally recommended it to someone. It is time we turn that equation upside down.

This isn’t a post bitching about those naysayers, not really. However, I will use some of the comments, generalized because I don’t want to go back to them, as examples.

The background:

Sarah offered some of us the chance to promote a book on sale for Cybermonday. I jumped at the chance since I suck at promotion. I made my way to my KDP dashboard and put Battle Flight, the prequel to the Honor & Duty series, on sale for the week. I did so because it allowed me to not only promote the series but to, hopefully, build interest ahead of opening up Risen from Ashes, the next book in the series, for pre-orders.

Thankfully, Amazon didn’t waste any time and the price change went through without a hitch and without delay and everything was in place for Sarah to post the link promoting the book. Huzzah!

The comments:

I got up yesterday morning and saw the beginning of the day’s bump in sales and went looking to see if Sarah had made the link. She had and there were comments. Blame it on curiosity or on the fact I hadn’t had enough coffee yet, but I went to look to see what folks had to say. Then I began beating my head against the desk.

One person said no one should buy the book because–gasp–a man was writing about a female lead character. (Wow! I’d somehow grown a penis and didn’t know about it.)

A couple of others bitched about the cover. It wasn’t realistic enough or it was too sexual or something.

There was the not so subtle jabs about how women shouldn’t be serving on the front lines of the military now or in the future.

As I read, I remembered why Sarah so long ago told me not to read my own reviews. . .and why she used to ask me to check hers for her and let her know if there was anything she needed to be aware of.

The fallout:

Okay, fallout isn’t the right word but I’m still caffeine-deprived this morning.

I spent a few minutes wondering if I’d made a mistake in letting Sarah link the book, in my choice of covers, etc. Then I quit feeling sorry for myself and looked at the comments with a clearer eye.

When I did, one thing became abundantly clear. Each and every one of those naysayers were passing judgment on a book they hadn’t read and, in at least one instance, hadn’t even bothered to click through to the Amazon page. In doing so, they illustrated a very large problem plaguing fandom–the old guard and the new–right now.

The old:

It isn’t done this way now (or when “I” was in the Army/Navy/whatever). Women don’t serve in combat roles.

Yes, I’ve heard that and have had it thrown at me from the first day Vengeance from Ashes was published. As I wrote the book, I knew there would be those who would take that stance. Objections from those folks ranged from women don’t have the strength to carry everything necessary to be a front line warrior to what happens if she’s on her period to she won’t have the emotional strength to do what needs to be done. After all, we all know women are nurturers.

Pardon me while I think of the girls I knew in middle school and laugh hysterically. That last one is about as steeped in reality as the belief that if women ran the world we’d no longer have any wars.

The joy of writing science fiction is that, if done right, basically all those objections can be dealt with in a believable way. David Weber does so in his Honor Harrington series by dropping in on a couple of occasions text about birth control implants that keep Honor from having to worry about things like getting pregnant while the implant is active. Implied is that she doesn’t suffer from some of the effects of the monthly period. All of which is believable as medical science improves.

As for the strength issue, implants and powered battle armor can overcome the physical limitations. So can lighter weapons (lighter in weight, not firepower). It is my job as a writer to get those things across. But someone who prejudges without reading the book won’t know if I’ve done that job or not.

I can’t do anything about how folks look at the cover. Well, I can. I can change the cover but I guarantee there would be someone who didn’t like the next cover. There is always someone who doesn’t like a book cover. Because of that, I don’t tend to worry about those complaints. What I do look at is if the cover cues the reader to genre and this one does.

The new:

Which is really nothing more than a variation on the old. It used to be that if you were female and going to write science fiction, especially military sci-fi, you needed to use a masculine sounding pen name. I had that in mind when I started the series and chose to write it under “Sam Schall”. For the first few books, it was an open pen name–if you followed this blog or my own–but I didn’t link my name to the book on Amazon. I changed that later on. While Sam’s name is the only one to appear on the cover, my name is linked on Amazon and the copyright notice shows that I wrote the book using the name “Sam Schall”.

Which is why I know the person complaining of the fact Sam was male writing a female character hadn’t bothered going to the Amazon page for the book.

Worse, at least in the parlance of the “woke”, this person made an assumption about Sam’s gender. (Yes, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek.) After all, Sam could be short for Samantha.

I will admit, however, that it is the first time I’ve been aware of anyone saying not to buy my book because I have a penis–which I don’t. I should have. After all, we’ve seen all too many of the new guard in fandom demanding readers step away from the patriarchy and read only female authors. There was even one author who campaigned to get her fans to read only female writers for a full year.

Sorry, but no. I don’t give a damn about a writer’s gender, sexual orientation, color of their skin or anything else. The only thing that matters is if they write an entertaining story or, if they are writing non-fiction, they show knowledge of their subject and aren’t just pulling “facts” out of thing air.

What to do?

If you go online and visit sites that don’t necessarily review products but link to them as recommendations, etc., you often will see that many–if not most–of the comments are negative. Part of that is because the internet is anonymous and folks thinks they can say whatever they want (whether their comments are based on facts or experience or not) and get away with it. Part of it is because some folks just feel the need to say something–again, whether they’ve used the product or not.

As readers, we need to make sure we let folks know about those books we like. Yes, leave a review on Amazon or other storefronts where the book is offered for sale or download. But when you see it being linked elsewhere, leave a comment there as well. It doesn’t have to be long, especially in the latter situation. But those positive comments go a long way. (and I appreciate the reader who pointed out I do not, in fact, have a penis but possess a vagina. LOL )

As writers, we need to remember this is social media where folks don’t always think before they hit “enter”. So we can’t take all those comments to heart.

As fans, we need to call out those from both old fandom and new who want to impose their own rules or prejudices on authors simply because of the feelz. I honestly understand and can see the problems some folks have with having a female in a combat role, especially combat command role, than I can those saying you shouldn’t read a book because of the gender of the author. In the former, those critics are usually judging based on personal military experience and are doing so without considering how improvements in tech can change things. Those folks are also the ones willing to concede the point if you have done your homework and write the tech into your story so it becomes something they can see happening. The latter, well, there is no reasoning with them (in general). They are allowing their personal prejudices to color everything about the book. How do you convince them you might actually have written a good book when they won’t pick it up in the first place–and won’t simply because of your gender (or your presumed gender)?

Anyway, it’s up to you to decide if you are going to judge a book solely on the presumed gender of the author or on the cover without even bothering to check out the blurb or sample. (And yes, I have been known to be turned off by a book’s cover. But I do try to read the blurb before completely ruling the book out.) I don’t know.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I just wish those who are often the most vocal spent a little bit of time actually reading a book before condemning it.

61 thoughts on “There will always be naysayers

  1. Hah. I saw the negative comments about your book cover on Insty – I’ve gotten the same damn thing about the latest Luna City installation that Sarah put up last month; “awful cover, might be good, couldn’t get readers with it, why don’t you indy authors pay for decent cover art …”
    Sigh. Cover doesn’t meet expectations? Well, then – lower your damn expectations.
    I do get a nice bump-up in sales, though, each time a book of mine is linked on Insty, or in the Ace of Spades Sunday morning book-thread, so I’ll be snickering all the way to the bank.

    1. Yep. I’m doing my own snickering.

      The cover thing I expected. There are always those who will find some reason to pick at a cover. . . and they will overlook worse covers from trad publishers.

      It was the “don’t buy this because it’s written by a man” comment that had me backing up and reading it again. I hadn’t come across that before and it threw me, especially since the pen name is wide open. She–I assume she. I honestly don’t remember who left the comment–proved they didn’t click through with the comment. It is that sort of uninformed judgment that drives me batty.

      1. I remember David Weber saying 11 years ago (BuboniCon 40) that some people didn’t believe he was a he, because Honor Harrington and the other female characters were so well written. “Obviously” no mere male could write a female that well, so “obviously” David Weber was really Daniella Weber or something. (At that point he had, six or seven books out in the main series alone.) He was more amused than anything.

        1. Yet, there are also “people” who think/claim that Honor is a Male with Breasts. 😈

          1. It is remotely possible that our culture has a lot of gender fetishists. “X must be because of Y’s sex”, because it is impossible that sex has limited magic power to determine things.

  2. As I’ve mentioned before, my problem with this series is that I totally do not “get” Ash. Her attitude after being screwed over is almost the exact opposite of mine. I’m looking forward to this prequel to provide some background on that. I’ll buy it right after leaving this comment. It’s possible I’ll get the rest of them right after I finish it. It’s not your writing I don’t like, it’s this impossible-to-understand character. You might change my mind.

    As for women on the front lines, I’m in the “it’s a bad idea” camp, but not strongly so. For pretty much the same reason I’m against gay troopers: One’s guards should be guarding, not sneaking off into the bushes. It can also create unpleasant small-group interactions when some people are “getting some” and others are not. Will that necessarily happen? Of course not. Is it likely to happen, I think so. Never having been in combat, I’m willing to (mostly) keep my opinions to myself.

    I picked up Bad Dog explicitly because of this. I wanted to see how it was handled. It was done well enough that I read the entire series in a week.

    P.S. I can hardly wait until (not-)reader comments drive me crazy.

    1. I’ll admit, trying to find the balance in her reactions/emotions to what happened to her and doing her duty has been hard. In this next book, she will come up against a situation where it all comes crashing back on her and she will have to make a choice. That part of the book has been a very difficult write–not because I don’t know what to write but because I want to get it right. Fingers crossed I manage to pull it off.

  3. If it helps at all, realize that the negative comments still prove that the post itself got people’s attention. It might not take a lot of effort to pick at stuff but it takes even less to scroll on by.

    I will say, though, that Insty is a weird place to find someone insisting that a man can’t write a woman character.

    1. I know. I keep reminding myself of that. It really was the “don’t read because male” comment that got to me. I’m used to some of the guys–and a few gals–saying not to because women shouldn’t be in combat.

  4. “Women don’t serve in combat roles.”

    Yeah, I love that one. Those boys should tell that to all the women stuck in the shitstorm that is the Middle East.

    We in the West have the luxury of protecting our women from the Hell of war. They don’t -have- to go. When they sometimes go anyway, they generally do well. But volunteering to walk into Hell is different than having it visited upon you.

    “As I read, I remembered why Sarah so long ago told me not to read my own reviews. . .and why she used to ask me to check hers for her and let her know if there was anything she needed to be aware of.”

    Yes. Do not read the reviews. Because many “reviews” are just personal attacks made by people who spend their spare time searching the interwebz looking for people to attack.

    There are a lot of assholes out there. We know a few that have been kicked off of MGC and According to Hoyt. Those particular assholes are merely examples of a type. The type whose recreation is trying to harm others from hiding.

    Being human, it is hard for us to work so hard on something like a book or a story and then brush off the type of intense personal attack these people mount. Beautiful example is the dickheads complaining that “a man was writing about a female lead character.” The attack is so idiotic that one can’t help but become angry, and that’s of course all they wanted. They want to hurt you.

    The defense against the Dark Arts here is: don’t read it. It might be worth it to pay someone to read them, just to keep the poison out of your brain. Some things are so ugly that just knowing about it is bad for you, IMHO this is one of those things.

    I actually -am- a man, been one for 60 some-odd years now, and I have female characters. Some are humans, some are AI, some are alien AI. Anyone out there who isn’t going to read my books because of my man-itude is free to not read them as hard as they want.

    They are not however entitled to take a free shot at my emotional well-being.

    Therefore I will not be reading any reviews, should I finally get my thumb out and publish, and then be fortunate enough to get a review. I’ll have my emotional-support dragon read them. Flame on!

    1. If all cultures are valid, then women and children are perfectly valid military targets, and any one who would spare them is a racist bigoty hater. 🙂

  5. Eh, I’m firmly in the “women in combat is a bad thing to be avoided whenever possible” camp.
    And I don’t feel you’re giving the argument against a fair shake.
    Hygiene and physical strength/endurance are issues, of course.
    But the bigger issues are the impact on group dynamics (the guys in Motor-T for our battalion busted their butts and worked long hours. The female marine assigned there treated it as a very part-time job, and was very free with threats to destroy the 1st Lt. and Gunny’s careers if they tried to make her work), pressure to loosen standards, consequences if captured, and the inhumane way women often treat other women whom they have almost complete control over. (When I was at the stumps, the comm school averaged one major prostitution ring broken up per year, female from top to bottom, and the stories coming out about them would curl your hair.)

    1. I’ll be honest, I’m not completely convinced it would work long-term. However, I am also aware that writing science fiction means there have (hopefully) been some changes in attitudes by both males and females — and everything in-between — that would help deal with this. I’ve not been in the service, but I have worked in situations (law enforcement, etc) where there have been some women I’d want going through the door with me and who I’d trust at my back and men I wouldn’t want within a mile of me with a loaded gun because they were likely to shoot one of us by mistake. It is my job as a writer to make the new dynamics work, or at least make sense. I hope readers and suspend their own experiences and beliefs (and in some situations prejudices) long enough to give the work a fair try. If not, shrug. As I said earlier, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Just don’t let those opinions be such that they deny you a good read (book), listen (music) or view (movie).

      1. Well, I have my doubts about “Women On The Front Line” (especially in a PC world where women are never at fault), but I still enjoy Good Writers using “Women On The Front Line”. 😀

      2. Fiction has to make sense.
        And all characters are no more venal than the author makes them.

        You can avoid most of the inherent problems just by assuming that everyone volunteering for the military is at least somewhat noble, and just never have them come up.
        But you have to stick with the tone.
        You can’t go on about the dehumanizing effects of being a cog in a totalitarian warmachine, and have your characters be unaffected.

        On the flipside, a Lt. Col. stopping a live-fire regimental assault, having the entire regiment form a line and look one direction, because his driver needed to pee and was mortified that someone might see her…
        I experienced it, but it’s not something most stories could accommodate.

        And anyway, I’m only part of the market.
        There’s a fairly popular series about a protagonist drafted to fight in a secret magical war in another dimension, who can’t bring himself to accept the realities of military life, and rebels.
        I can accept at face value.
        It’s tough to think of yourself (and those under you) as disposable. There’s a lot to unpack in that realization and reaction. It’s good stuff. Great story fodder.
        The character was an active duty staff NCO who had re-enlisted at least once before his involuntary promotion.
        The book left a dent in my wall.
        There’s the willing suspension of diselief, and then there’s you’ve just insulted my intelligence.

        1. Oh, good lord – my daughter (the two-hitch Marine) related to me a story of a convoy on an exercise having to stop for a pee-break … yeah, the Daughter Unit said that on that one exercise she saw more d*ck that most porn stars would see in a life-time…
          In our day … *assuming crotchety senior voice* female troops in a mostly-male specialty – were expected to be and usually were OK with seeing examples of blatant maleness. This is what guys were like! Adjust, or go home and sob into your pristine pillow!

          1. But but Celia! Don’t you know that women are delicate beings that would be harmed if men saw them peeing! [Very Big Sarcastic Grin]

            1. As a veteran of much outdoor pee’ing let me just say… there’s just no way that it’s not awkward. Guys have a real advantage on the mechanics of not pee’ing on their own clothing.

              1. Chuckle Chuckle

                Off Topic story about that “advantage”.

                My oldest niece and nephew are twins and when they were around three years old, my Mom (their grandmother) had both of them in the bath-tub.

                He let loose a stream of pee right into her face (not sure if it was intentional or not).

                She was (according to Mom) upset that she “couldn’t return fire” in the same manner. 😈

                Oh, this was many years ago as he has a son older than they were when this happened. 😉

        2. I was in the military but never without facilities. THAT was part of the Geology degree at University. If you didn’t want to pee in the wide open spaces you changed your degree plan. There’s usually at least a *rock* to pee behind but not necessarily one that hides more than your butt.


    2. There’s some interesting research into the mechanism of tearing ACLs. Reading between the lines, it is possible that there really are physiological reasons why women might never be top infantry.

      I’m also the sort who thinks it is fun to ask if, supposing this is so, whether it is culturally possible to permit women to own property and wear shoes without having that tolerance eventually result in compromised infantry organizations.

      So, obviously, I would only write fiction that strictly reflects my best guesses for realistic possibilities?

      I like the giant robot genre, and am not persuaded that is realistic either.

      1. “…it is possible that there really are physiological reasons why women might never be top infantry.”

        They won’t. There’s no way. Purely based on the musculo-skeletal differences between male and female, it ain’t happening.

        Women have smaller muscle attachments to their bones. Women’s muscles are less dense than men’s. Women’s bones are smaller. Their joint surfaces are smaller.

        The same thing that makes trans dominate women’s sport when they compete means that women can’t compete with men in the infantry.

        But sometimes, as I said above, they’re just stuck doing it. In a war it doesn’t matter who carried the GPMG, it only matters that its up on the top of the hill and firing.

        This is not to say that there’s no unicorns in the world who can duke it out with the men, one occasionally sees them. But they’re unicorns. Scarce by definition.

        1. as i keep telling people, powered armor will go a long way to correcting that. when EVERYONE in the unit can lift 300 lbs…..

          1. That’s one excuse that I’m using. Power assist armor is a great equallizer.

            My other excuse is at least one of my characters is a unicorn. She’s just plain weird, always where the fire is hottest because she’s a shit magnet. If there’s an enemy within 100 miles, they’ll show up where she is. Her talent for attracting trouble got her seconded to the Special Ops brigade, where she was sent out to find and capture zombies.

            Found ’em.

            I figured that girl deserved a 30mm rifle and some Heinlein Mobile Infantry jump armor. If I’m going to steal, it’ll be from the best. ~:D

              1. You only need to look at the Olympics to see the performance differences between male and female. It is a very large gap. Any man in about the top 100 can beat all the women in most sports.

                But with armor that does all the work, that different kind of mental stamina women have can be an advantage.

                1. well, actually… many of the women’s sports, the women could be beaten by a top 10% high school male. (this is comparing track and field scores between female Olympic athletes and high school males)

            1. I’m using magic. The paladin is told that if it weren’t for magic she wouldn’t be able to hold her own on the battlefield, and she answers that if it weren’t for the sky being all the way up there, dragons would have to walk like everyone else.

        2. And that’s likely to be true even in Honor Harrington’s world. We never see her actually fighting HTH with someone who’s had the same genetic mods she has, but grew up as a male in the same heavy grav environment, as far as I can remember. I suspect that was somewhat deliberate on Weber’s part.

          1. Yeah, Harrington is a genii, genetically modified with higher bone density, denser muscle fiber, more fast-twitch fibers, higher metabolism etc. Weber did a lot of homework on how to make her stronger without resorting to magic.

            One of the things I respect about him as an author, he does the research.

          2. On the other hand, there was an “after the fact” scene where there’s a mention of her “being given a good fight” by an expect male fighter (from one of the other Manticore System worlds).

            IE She may have been stronger than him but his IIRC higher skill level made it an equal fight.

        3. This.

          On the one hand, war-stories that do the Band of Sisters without taking this into account are beyond tiresome. Lasky’s book about the Night Witches and the gals if the Russian front nails it.

          In the other hand, if you’re going to give me an SF romp with FTL, anti-gravity, and gengineering and I get my panties in a twist because it has gung-ho gal soldiers that’s on me. Ridiculous.

          In the third hand, (This is SF) anyone with a front-row seat to the feminist destruction of the once-proud U.S. military is bound to be a bit tetchy toward anything reeking of GRRL power. And reasonably so. It might not hurt if your stories could be mistaken for the same in a dim light to find a way to signal that’s not the case.

        4. While as a generalization you are correct, women like men fall on a continuum. So while the strongest man will be stronger than the strongest woman, that strong woman will be stronger than some me.

          1. Strength, yes. But that is not the whole of interesting qualities relating to physical force.

            Muscle fatigue is related to the tearing of ACLs. It is possible that the different structure of the female pelvis and knee may make the issue significantly worse, and significantly harder to prevent.

            There’s anecdotes that suggest it would be interesting to research female and male pelvises, and carrying of heavy loads. There may be a mostly female specific fragility issue under those loading conditions.

            Strength is obvious, and easily measurable. At least relatively speaking. This other stuff is challenging enough that you if can’t get funding because it is political poison, it is hard to find anything conclusive to point to.

            If you trot out Phantom’s and Kirk’s anecdata, even if you are dealing with someone civil enough not to try the ‘misogynist crank’ counter argument, you can also find people with the same paper credentials willing to swear that things are totally fine.

            And frankly, some of Kirk’s anecdotes? There’s a second possibility which we cannot disprove without the sort of research which risks confirming that there is absolutely a problem which is strongly sex linked. He claims that there is a male set of lifting postures that men learn to use, which may reduce the injury rate in men. But how much of that is direct experimentation, and how much learned from exposure to men lifting who already have the technique? If the latter, could we simply have not discovered a technique for female structures? Or not have critical masses of female heavy workers to sustain and distribute the learning?

            1. If we’re talking carrying loads, just being smaller makes a difference and I doubt that the military has different sizes of backpack frames. (Do they have frames?)

          2. However, the odds against her always encountering weaker men are, shall we say, bad. As we’re proving with the trans athletes who weren’t even competitive male vs male but are wiping the floor when the opponents are female.

          3. These things always fall on a bell curve, Ashley. There’s crossover at the tails, because we’re talking about populations, not individuals.

            You want a real eye opener, look up those strength curves and see how small that crossover is for the American population for things like bench press and grip strength.

            That’s why I call them unicorns. They’re rare, and mostly mythical.

            1. I wouldn’t call them unicorns, because unicorns aren’t real. Call them Black Swans instead. Rare, but not impossible or excluded.

              Besides, there’s power versus stamina, and women can do stamina; as in run etc.

              1. “Besides, there’s power versus stamina, and women can do stamina; as in run etc.”

                This is a very popular notion. Everybody wants to come back with “yeah but stamina!”

                I’m a physical therapist. I’ve seen the performance data. It does not support this assertion.

                Men are beating women at stamina, and the margin is very wide. The fittest women with the best bone structure and the best training are getting -trounced- by fair-to-middlin’ men. Top of the women’s pack is straining at their maximum potential to keep up with middle of the men’s pack.

                There are -zero- women competing at the men’s level in distance running, cross country skiing, biathlon etc. All the things you need to be a success in the infantry.

                Furthermore the never-sufficiently-damned East Germans proved that if you take Olga who’s already built like a cart horse and you pump her so full of testosterone she starts growing a beard (yeah they did that) plus steroids and god knows what else, work her 7 days a week at her competition event, train her using cutting edge electro-stim and diet, exercise, all of that… she still can’t measure up to the average man her age.

                That girl who can beat all the boys is a unicorn. However I freely admit there are certainly women out there who can beat -me-. Just not very many of them, even though I am old and creaky.

                Its not fair, but it is true.

                Therefore, if you have That Girl in your story, you have to include some Handwavium to explain how come she’s so super duper. My super women are robots. ~:D

                1. “Men are beating women at stamina, and the margin is very wide. The fittest women with the best bone structure and the best training are getting -trounced- by fair-to-middlin’ men. Top of the women’s pack is straining at their maximum potential to keep up with middle of the men’s pack.”

                  Interesting, that the last line supports the assertion that the best women are in the middle of the pack.

                  This is probably a good enough argument for me to make my point.

                  If they’re in the middle of the pack, then there are some men behind them.

                  Average means 50% below and 50% above. So some women are better than the “average” man, because that’s how statistics work.

                  1. Yes, that’s right. The extreme tail of women athletes falls about the middle of middle of the men’s. You can take the top 500 women athletes in the world and make an average infantry unit.

  6. “a man was writing about a female lead character”

    This is one of those things that drives me up the wall and down the other side again. The people who relentlessly agitate for more diversity are the same ones who will try to punish creators for doing exactly that, but in the “wrong” way.

    1. The point is to drive them out with the Kafkatrap of you must be diverse and you’re culturally appropriating if you are.

    2. Totally agree, Christopher. I’ve seen the argument in “Romance” for years. After all, men don’t know how to express their feelings, so how can they write romance? I said bullshit to that one and I say bullshit to the current group who say men can’t write female lead characters just because the authors don’t possess a vagina.

  7. my current work, i am planning on sticking a supporting character as female and doing everything i can to avoid ever mentioning it, just to tweak people’s noses.

  8. “I will admit, however, that it is the first time I’ve been aware of anyone saying not to buy my book because I have a penis–which I don’t.”

    I thought you were a white Mormon male!

  9. I had to scroll back up and reread. Then go all the way to the look inside to see the cover in all of it’s glory.

    Too sexual???? Oh, my gerd… These must be the same people that drive around my town with their eyes wide shut, lest they see the tiniest bit of flesh on the “loose women” around here. I would be tempted myself to send them a cover from one of the harem subgenre books, and stand back from the head splatter.

    Sam – the one with an innie – is on the list when the book buying gets back on schedule, I can’t promise reviews knowing how badly I procrastinate (the queue only gets longer, sigh). Unexpected car repairs today, darned seized spark plug that took nearly $300 in labor to convince it to play nice. Con – I spent seven hours in the shop. Pro – I did peck out most of Gifts on the Fire. So that might actually make it out this weekend, barring more insanity around here.

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