Posted in Activism, authors obits, Publishing, Quotes, science fiction, writing

Ann C Crispin, Knight of the Writing Realm

ac-crispinWord sadly came today of the passing of author Ann C. Crispin, science fiction writer and defender of writers everywhere through her collaboration with her friend and fellow writer Victoria Strauss, via the Writer Beware blogs here  and here, and their website.  It was only two short days ago I learned of her battle with cancer. If you’re a writer, or have any aspirations of writing, the best thing you could do for yourself is acquaint yourself with their work. These two have brought to light so many shady publishers, agents, and writing scams, the value to the writing community is incalculable. In so doing, to no one’s surprise I’m sure, they riled the slimeballs who try to prey on the newest, most naive members of the writing community, going so far as to take the battles to court.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden this morning tweeted out an impassioned defense of their work as a tribute to Ms. Crispin, which I have transcribed here, with permission from him and Victoria:

Most reports I’ve seen about the death of Ann Crispin describe Writer Beware (which she co-founded) as a group formed to ‘protect writers’ or something along those lines. Writer Beware is actually more specific than that. It exists to expose the scams on the fringes of publishing. Dodgy pay-for-play self-publishing schemes. Phony agents who actually make their money by funneling authors to vanity presses. A lot of good writers have been swindled by operators like this, wasting not just money, but lifespan. Ann was, and Victoria Strauss is, a hero for taking on the task of keeping track of this sort of crap, and educating a generation of writers in how to spot it.

And a final note. Writer Beware’s enemies periodically accuse it of being opposed to self-publishing. This is BS. What WB is against is fraud.

I can’t even imagine what a debt I owe them. Rest in peace, dear lady.

I just thought you should all know.

Posted in Activism, History, Holidays

Happy Independence Day



IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

Posted in Activism, random thoughts, writing

Business as Usual

If you were on Twitter at all yesterday, you no doubt followed and possibly took part in the endless tweets about the execution of Troy Davis. The righteous indignation was flying fast and furious, retweeted with phone numbers of judges to call to protest, everyone voicing their opinion of how unjust and disgusting it was, how ashamed they were to be Americans, and listing off the countries that still resort to capital punishment such as China, Yemen, and Syria. “Murder.” “State-sanctioned murder.”  “It’s not a crime deterrent and it doesn’t save money.”

There did seem to be a great deal of doubt about Davis’s guilt with numerous witnesses recanting their testimony, and that to my mind was enough to make carrying out the execution an unconscionable act. But here we are. We are still here, and Troy Davis is not. He claimed to be at peace with his fate, despite protesting his innocence to the end. I hope he is at peace.

What drove me over the edge last night was a tweet from someone I do not follow, but was retweeted by someone I do, which said, “Was it good for you, America?” I don’t remember the person’s name now, and it’s too far back in the timeline to dig it up, but I did take a quick look at the sender’s profile. He’s in Chicago. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s the same America I’m in. I wonder if he got a boner from it. Seems like a reasonable question since he seemed to feel his countrymen were enjoying themselves over the whole thing. It could be he’s not an American citizen, I don’t know. Everyone hates us. We know the drill.

This was the last of it I could take, so I made my little diva exit from Twitter. I checked back in today, wondering if the outrage and horror and indignation over the killing of this man was still boiling over. And what do you know? We’re back to talking about Sesame Street, and romance books, and jewelry, and surf reports, and birthdays and cake and cookie recipes and… you get the idea. For all the angst and horror people were displaying last night, I’ve seen three tweets all day related to the execution of Troy Davis. People sure get over stuff quickly.

I had nightmares.

It baffles me how someone can tweet for hours of their disgust for capital punishment one day, only to show up bright and shiny the next day as if nothing happened. The people who were last night the most vocal in their objections and overarching zeal to condemn and speak against the death penalty are today tweeting about designer shoes. Like some kind of empty-headed evil twin.

I don’t even want to get into the death penalty debate, or the racial bias that made the Troy Davis case possible. Others have done those topics far better than I could. I’m simply astounded that no one seems to be giving it a thought. That was yesterday’s cause, I guess. I’m not sure what I expected to see today. Revolution? Marches? National day of mourning? Hardly. But maybe a little less frippery and frivolity, a more subdued atmosphere. No such.

The United Nations, headquartered on U.S. soil, condemns capital punishment. For those who are interested, Christopher Hitchens, the well-known atheist, has an eloquent essay on the death penalty at Lapham’s Quarterly.

The United Nations condemns capital punishment—especially for those who have not yet reached adulthood—and the Vatican has come close to forbidding if not actually anathematizing the business. This leaves the United States of America as the only nation in what one might call the West, that does not just continue with the infliction of the death penalty but has in the recent past expanded its reach.

“The first horror is that there’s horror. The second horror is that you accept it.” – Glen Duncan, “The Last Werewolf.”

I guess that’s why we’re back to posting pretty pictures on Twitter.

Posted in Activism, Portland

Spay Day 2/22/2011

— crossposted from my Wandering Mind blog —

UPDATE 2/22/2011 — I just received this message from Cheryl, who says (and I quote), “Humane Society for Southwest Washington is a member of ASAP and is also performing low-cost surgeries. 360-693-4746”

Thanks, Cheryl!

I’m lifting this text in toto from the Oregon Humane Society‘s Web site, but somehow I don’t think they’ll mind too much. (and if they do I’m sure I’ll hear about it and this post will go away)

2011: A Spay Odyssey
500 Cats Fixed In One Week, One Lucky “Cat” will win $500

For Spay Day, ASAP and the Oregon Humane Society boldly sets out to perform 500 surgeries in one week.

In honor of Spay Day USA, and to prevent unwanted litters of kittens from being born this spring, the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland (ASAP) is offering an additional 500 low cost ($10) spay/neuter surgeries the week of February 21st in five locations around the Portland/Vancouver metro area.

The Oregon Humane Society has committed to doing a record-breaking 222 of these surgeries on Spay Day, Feb. 22. To encourage participation, all cats coming through program during the week of Spay Day are eligible to be entered in a prize drawing for a $500 Fred Meyer gift card.

Spay Day USA is an annual observance on the last Tuesday of February that was created by the Doris Day Animal League in 1995 to bring attention to the nationwide pet overpopulation problem. Caretakers of stray or feral cats can take advantage of this offer as well.

Qualified cat owners can have their unsterilized cats or kittens spayed or neutered for only $10. Surgeries are performed by licensed veterinarians and subsidized through charitable donations.

How to Qualify: For a cat owner to qualify, they must receive government assistance (such as Medicaid, WIC, food stamps, SSI, Section 8 public housing, AFDC, or TANF) and live in Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, or Clark County. Those feeding unowned feral/stray cats need not meet income requirements.

Where: Services are being provided at the Oregon Humane Society by licensed veterinarians and caring surgical teams. Transportation may be available for those unable to take advantage of this offer due to travel issues.

How: Call: 503-802-6755 for a cat you own; or 503-797-2606 for feral cats to schedule an appointment for $10.

Low cost surgeries are being offered through the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland’s Spay & Save program thanks to generous donations. This vital program is funded through private donations as well as grant monies. Special thanks to PetSmart Charities for their grant support. See for details on qualifying, addresses of surgery locations and more.

Posted in Activism, Office Life, writing

To Blog, or to Bank?

For anyone who wonders why I, and others, write under faux names on our blogs, Twitter accounts, and so forth, here is another case of someone being canned over it. From New York magazine:

Woman Torn Between Unpaid Historical-Fiction Blogging and Job at Chase

It’s a tiny little article so I don’t dare quote it here and run afoul of copyright, but in a nutshell, Marilyn Tagocon writes a still-unnamed “historical fiction” blog under a pseudonym. It sounds like she also self-publishes her fiction, and when she for some reason brought this up with her employer, Chase Bank, the HR department essentially told her to cease and desist, or she would be fired. Chase does not allow ‘online personal speeches’ by their employees. Her blog had nothing to do with her day job, or her employer, she was not libeling them or making any comments, good or bad, about them at all. So why do they care? Why? I don’t get it. This isn’t the first case of this I’ve heard of, hence my own pseudonym.

::: sigh ::: I’m getting very very tired of our day-jobs controlling our off-time as well. We have to give them permission to dig into our finances before we can even get hired anymore, and now they are telling us whether we can write on our own time? How is this legal? I hope she’s called the ACLU, and I hope we hear more about this (no, I do not work for Chase, in case anyone is wondering).


Posted in Activism, random thoughts, Uncategorized, writing

Vote for Oil Independence is proposing a plan to reduce oil consumption, and virtually eliminate off-shore drilling and oil imports from the Persian Gulf by 2035. They are one of three finalists for a $10,000 prize, to be awarded by SACE – Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. You can read all the proposals, watch their presentations, and cast your vote here. You don’t need to live in the Southern U.S. to vote, this will affect us ALL.                         Banner
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For the oceans,
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Campaign Analyst