Slowbusy Day

Today’s been a slower day for me in terms of my brain, though not in terms of things to do. It’s one of those days when my thoughts just won’t seem to organize themselves, when the cats are forever underfoot and needy (but never quite satisfied) and when the stuff on my to-do list seems to multiply like rabbits.

The positive is that I’ve gotten a little bit done, but the negative is that it’s not as much as I wanted—or, really, even needed. My energy levels have been negative since I got out of bed, and all the coffee in the world hasn’t helped. That and, for whatever reason, the anxiety demons have come out a bit to gnaw on me. Nothing ever seems to chase them off; the best I seem to be able to manage is to wait them out.

On days like today, it seems like the best thing I can do is to preserve what energy I have, choose the most important things from the list, and do my best to get those done—that and hope tomorrow is a better day.

But in the name of consistency (and because it helps keep me on track), I’m making the effort to at least post something today. I may not do so every single day—after all, some days, there just won’t be much to report—but checking in regularly on the blog does a lot for me in terms of focus. I hope it also helps to keep you informed as well, and to let you know that I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth.

Here’s hoping you’re having a good day, and that tomorrow will be bright and productive for us all!

 

Nearer Horizons

Last night’s D&D session went well enough for an ongoing trek through the Underdark. I mean, nobody died, even if we are now captured (again; this is becoming a bad habit of ours). My half-orc wizard made it to Level 3 by the skin of his teeth, so he finally has access to some higher-powered spells, which means he might actually be helpful in the future.

Work on “Beasts” yesterday was steady, if not exceptional. I’m finding myself making faces at the limited amount of space available for exposition, though. Part of me wants to go on at length about the main character’s background, since I now know a great deal about what he was up to in the years prior to this little adventure.

(Un)fortunately, I have to remind myself of that vital truism: readers don’t need every damned detail to enjoy a story.

Which, of course, means I’m going to have to bite my lip and hold off on the self-serving expository spew I keep wanting to insert into that section. But such is life, and I think you guys will catch on just fine without some kind of poorly disguised history lesson that exists only to validate an impressive-to-me stack of backstory notes.

I’ve also been making tweaks to the description of the scenery, making sure that it reflects, at least in some basic way, the reality of a view from the surface of this particular moon. I wasn’t too far off the mark originally (I do try to do my homework, even if things almost always devolve into swordfights on the page), but one thing I hadn’t properly accounted for last time was how…close the horizon would be.

Basically, the horizon’s only about a half-mile away at any given time, provided an unobstructed view—as opposed to the threeish miles you could expect on Earth. This leads to some interesting visuals, in that some things sink off beyond your line of sight far sooner than they would in most places humans are wont to be found.

A big thanks is owed to my social media horde, who patiently fielded this question and helped with the specifics. It might only amount to two or three lines in the text, but I like to think they’re important ones, so if you helped me with the horizon problem, you’ll be able to proudly point to those lines and say, “Hey, that was me.”

Around the office, things are pretty relaxed today. I don’t have any standing obligations outside my work (and the usual demands of the cats), so it’s shaping up to be a nice writing and freelancing day indeed.

Here’s hoping your day is equally full of potential, however you may spend it!

Doing the Thing

Yesterday’s work on “Beasts” involved giving the draft a deep reading, making some notes on where I see problems, creating a checklist of adjustments that need to be made, and starting in on the first section (which totals about 2500 words, give or take).

I’m taking the actual rewrite/revise process pretty slow, and really only focused on the first couple of pages, neither of which I’m entirely satisfied with today. Still, they’re far better than they were yesterday morning, and I have a good sense of the changes I want to make. Today continues that process, and I’m hopeful that, if nothing else, I’ll step away from the keys today happy with those first two pages, and maybe even make some headway into the third.

It’s quite fascinating to me, looking at this manuscript now, how much I’ve grown since I last spent any time on it. The initial draft was written in 2009, the final draft of the original was published in 2011, and I made a stab at reworking it just a bit in mid-2012, before I started on Oath of Blood. When I put it away three years ago, I couldn’t see any way to help it out or make it better. I was just plain blind to its problems.

Now, working my way through the text, I find myself making a variety of unpleasant faces at rookie mistakes, gaping plot holes, and an unhealthy attachment to adverbs, among other things. I’m sure there’s plenty I still can’t see, but just the fact that I can pick up this old piece and see how to improve it now, when I though there was no more improving it, is hopeful. It shows I’ve made substantial progress.

But there’s also good in the old draft: it has a fairly tightly scripted story, and while there are some rough spots, it isn’t fundamentally broken. I still wonder how in the world it ever got published to start with, but I’m not going to question that. It was my first sale, and it served its purpose in that it put me in a mindset where I could say, “Yes, I can do the thing.”

Oh, and readers said nice things about it then, even if I have to hold my nose a little when I read it now.

And for that reason alone, if no other, I’d like it to be accessible in its more refined form. I’ll probably give it a new title, to distinguish it from the 7500-word short story in Jeff’s anthology, as one does, but again, I’m not putting much thought into that right now. Titles are almost always best for me when I assign them last, and/or when they arise organically from the work. For now, the working title will do.

In terms of the work itself, I’m also finding working in a shorter format (10-12k words, projected max) to be a breath of fresh air after the almost 90k sprawl that Oath grew into. I don’t have a lot of room for expository shenanigans or twisty subplots, and there’s no real estate for wasted words at all. Like the pulp stories that originally inspired the setting, it has to hit the ground running and earn its keep quickly.

(Which—that’s true of novels as well, but short formats really turn that demand Up To Eleven.)

In any case, though, I’m going to stare at my page allotment for the day, and after that I have some freelance work to do. Then, this evening is the D&D game in which I actually get to be a player, so I’m excited about that. We’ll see how my hapless half-orc wizard fares in his continued trek through Out of the Abyss.

Demon lords loose in the Underdark! Madness and fell sorcery all around! It’s like every session offers brand-new ways to go insane and die! If he somehow survives, I will be very impressed.

Onward, Upward, and Sideways

As I observed yesterday, I spent Monday afternoon making some decisions about this quarter’s side project. I have, at this moment, a total of four stories in various stages of progress, including one that’s entirely drafted (but needs some serious love), one that’s half done, and two that are maybe a quarter drafted with accompanying outlines.

I spent a good bit of time stewing over which to work on, since I like them all—I mean, I wouldn’t have started them otherwise—but in the end I decided to work on the fully drafted one first. It’s a short story that’s flirting with novelette territory, and it’s seen publication before, but the anthology where you can get it has limited availability, and some folks on Amazon seem to have very high opinions of what it should cost.

($293.18? What?)

Which, you know, that’s no fun for me or you. I want you to read my stuff, and you probably want to pay less than multiple hundreds of dollars to do so. Though if you do want to pay that much, I think I have a personal copy or two around here…

Ahem. Anyhow.

(As Jeff points out in the comments, though, and as my sadly undercaffeinated brain apparently failed to recall, you can still get the book direct from him right here at the Strange Worlds main page. So if you want some Sword & Planet goodness and you don’t want to pay like three hundred dollars, go check it out! )

Ideally, what I intend for this story is an eBook rerelease, pending some fix-ups and minor changes. I have grown significantly as a writer since it was first published and, well, it needs some assistance in certain areas, as well as some expansion that existed in the first draft, but which was cut because of the word count limitations in the anthology. And since that universe itself has now expanded to include Oath of Blood, some of the text in the original needs a bit of adjusting to fit the bigger picture.

In any case, the editor of the anthology (Jeff, over at Barsoomia) and I have talked about it, and he’s given his blessing for the rerelease, among other things, so for the first quarter of this year, my main goal is to get the revised “Beasts of the Abyss” whipped into shape and ready to start earning its keep on Amazon, making me perhaps tens of dollars in the process.

Riches, I tell you. Riches. I’ll be able to take a bath in…pennies or something.

Whether the revised Beasts will come out during the first quarter isn’t something I’m willing to say right now. That will depend on external factors over which I have only limited control: beta reader response times, editing, revisions, graphic design and layout, and so forth. But the idea is that it will be, at a minimum, ready for those things by the end of March.

At that point, it’ll be in-process at a minimum, with a goal of its being available by the end of the year at the latest, and I’ll move on to one of the other things I have on the list. As you might have surmised, these side projects are more or less an effort to finish all the half-finished things I have around the office, and to get them out to a wider audience.

Some of them, like Beasts, I’ll prefer to handle myself. Others I’ll shop to outside pay markets first. But regardless, there’s going to be a lot of shoveling through my stuff this year and putting old ideas to bed. They’ll get sold, or they’ll get pushed out onto Amazon to fend for themselves, or they’ll get trunked, but regardless, they will no longer be permitted to squat on my To-Do list.

Regarding the website and such, I didn’t have time to port any blog posts yesterday, so we’ll see what today brings. I will be starting the process of tying the main domain to this new site by the end of the week, though, so lisavtomecek.com will soon point here, and not to the old site. At that point, the old site will lie dormant until I can finish picking its bones clean, at which point I will take it down.

For now, though, I’ve got plenty of work to do. Look for another post tomorrow, in which I shall continue to let you know how things are going!

Monday Fun-Day

The weekend was fairly busy for me, between addressing some freelance projects, setting up for others, cleaning out the office, and attempting to wrangle this site into place. Oh, and of course there was Skyrim, but not too much. Today promises to be just as lively, as I have new freelance work to start, more site wrangling to do, some writing to get done, and a D&D session to run tonight at the local game store.

Regarding the site, you’ll see that I now have the most recent year and a half or so of blog posts ported from the old site. As I had to do it manually, that ate up a substantial chunk of my evening on Sunday. I’ll do a few more today, time permitting. The Contact page is also working now, and the one on the old site is now disabled…so if you want to get in touch, you can now send me a snazzy email through the fillable form right here.

And have I mentioned how much I like the WordPress interface? It’s so unbelievably simple compared to the old site’s editor, and I now sort of wish I’d been using it this whole time. There are some things I really haven’t explored yet, along with others I have explored and haven’t quite figured out, but I no longer feel like I’m in an unholy pact with the son of the Geocities editor, so there’s that.

D&D tonight promises to be fun, as the audience at the local game store will be primarily folks who are new to the hobby. It’ll be a little bit different than my usual game on Fridays, where many of my players are old veterans of the game, but it’s always fun to bring new people to the table and let them explore the possibilities.

Regarding my solemn pledge to de-crapify the office, the space is looking a lot cleaner and more inviting this morning. I emptied about a half dozen sizable boxes this weekend, sorted out probably just as much stuff that was boxless (read: heaped up in the floor), and shredded an astounding amount of paper. All in all, the office is not at the level I intend yet, but it’s a livable, workable space now.

In terms of writing, it is the Day of Project-Wrangling. I have several things I could be working on while Oath is with the editor, some partially completed, others still in note and/or outline form. I intend to dump them out, sort through them, and pick one for my first-quarter effort. Which one I choose will likely depend upon which one delights me the most as I leaf through the crapstack.

How about you, horde? Any big plans for your Monday?

 

 

Regarding Old Site Content

One of my biggest goals for January is to complete the process of transitioning the website to WordPress. I’ve got a handful of things left to do that way, and some of them may be slow in coming online, while others are quick and relatively painless.

Probably the single most frustrating and time consuming element of the change is making sure old blog posts make the jump from the old site to the new. Sadly, my old host has no single, easy mechanism for exporting old content in a format that is usable by WordPress…so this means I’m going to have to manually copy and port them all to the new site.

That’s going to…take a while. So if you start to see backdated archives popping up, feel free to take a look, but they’ll be functionally the same as the old material.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to be able to port the old comments, which pisses me off not a little bit, but, well, there are reasons I’m making the switch to WordPress, and the clunkiness of the old interface is surely one of them.

In making the jump, I’m also streamlining the content of the site substantially. Certain things that were a pretty big deal on the old site will be going away and/or not making the jump, while other, newer things may take their place. Or I might just leave it super simple. We shall see.

Obviously I’ll be getting some links up to Shit I Have Written, though probably that page will be more diplomatically named, and I’ll be getting a fillable email form up and running on the Contact page as soon as I figure out how to do that. In the meantime, you can bounce over to the old site and drop me a line if you want (or you can leave a comment here).

Thanks once again for your continued patience as I get the new site up and running. It’s my hope that, with the easier interface and such, you’ll see much more of me in this space in the days and months ahead.

New Site For a New Year

The new year is off to a pretty good start, at least in terms of my productivity and this site.

Well, what you can see of this site right now.

I know, I know. It’s a little sparse. And ugly. And it doesn’t tie to my domain yet (that still tracks to the old blog). Those changes are coming as soon as I can figure them out, and/or as soon as I switch modes from yelling at the screen to actually thinking about troubleshooting and site design and fascinating shit like that.

But the biggest thing, really, is to go ahead and fire up this new iteration of the blog and get down to the business of making 2016 my best writing year actively forcing myself back into the creative routine.

2015 wrapped up in a mostly good place for me, writing-wise. Oath of Blood, the novel I have beat like a dead horse diligently worked on for the last three and a half years or so, is finally back with my wonderful and supernaturally patient editor.

This time three years ago, I’d just finished the first draft, which I imagined was, more or less, the next-to-the-last draft because of course I would never write a steaming pile of shit.

Well, three years later, and I know I did. And I of course have my concerns that the draft currently sitting in her hard drive is just as bad, but in a different way.

But that’s out of my hands for the time being, and even if it were in my hands, I doubt I’d be able to see the truth of it. A very long time staring at something has a tendency to blind me to its realities, be they good or bad. So I’ll trust to my editor’s sharp eye and act upon the guidance she gives me, and I’ll leave off hyperventilating about it here.

In the meantime, like most people around me, I’m preprogrammed to spout grand plans for the year (and probably drop them like hot rocks by February 1st). Every year I swear I’m not going do this. I’m not going to fall victim to the resolutions trap. I’m one of the smart people, by the gods, and I can outsmart this!

Or, you know, not.

So despite my best efforts, behold my list of Shit I’m Going to Do Better This Year (Hopefully):

I will write every day.

I will do the thing, even if it’s just to smear a couple of sentences across the screen. A thousand words a day would be a great minimum, but honestly any amount of writing will do.

See, I have this…thing where I thrash and whine and complain to myself like a thwarted teenager when it’s time to apply hands to keys and do the thing. It’s not that I hate writing; it’s that I’m really, really shitty at disciplining myself to start. Once I start, things get going just fine.

So in the new year, something’s getting written every day. I honestly don’t care if it’s a grocery list written in dactylic hexameter or an outline or two sentences of dialogue.

Every day.

Every. Fucking. Day.

Eventually tantrum-mind will quit throwing itself around the room and sighing about how it “isn’t feeling inspired” or whatever the fuck and will accept its fate—or so I’m hoping, anyhow.

I will always have something in progress.

You remember what I said about surly-teenager brain? Yeah, it’s a lazy little fucker. Somebody else has the story right now? Okay, time to vegetate and play Skyrim till our eyes bleed.

Which, c’mon. That’s hard to argue against. Skyrim is awesome. And spool-down time and sanity breaks are good for the soul or whatever. They quiet the madness a little bit and give me a reason to emerge from my lair from time to time.

But the point is that breaks are short for a reason. We take them to rest and recuperate so we can get back to doing the thing. Not, you know, so we can practice for the Olympic Netflix team.

So to stave off this tendency and to force myself to both stay engaged and move forward, I will always have a work in progress in front of me, even when the top-priority work is out of the house.

I will submit something to a paying market at least once a quarter.

This can be something I’m shopping around and, if it comes back, resubmitting, or it can be a new thing, but regardless—something has to go out the door to the slush pile once a quarter.

Once a month would be nice, sure, but I’m going for positive reinforcement here, and that means lowered expectations.

I realize this probably sounds completely obvious, but I’ll be honest: slush-pile submissions are not something I do very often. I typically dig in my heels on a long project (see above regarding Oath) and keep my head down for long stretches of time. But I need the active exercise of writing and submitting—and, yes, getting rejected.

Plus, hey, there’s possibly money involved, and I’ve got a stack of bills that would love to get paid on time. So.

I will limit the scope of the freelance projects I accept.

The most salient point here is that I’m getting out of the tutoring and academic writing guidance business. I’ve done it in one form or another for almost a decade, and in that time I’ve helped a lot of people polish their academic writing game and/or knock the dents out of graduate theses and dissertations. It’s been a good run, and it’s kept bills paid in tight times, but I’m ready to be done with it.

My current academic clients will be my last clients in that regard. Once we’ve put their theses to bed, I’m not taking on anymore.

Simple as that.

I will stop giving away work for free.

Again, probably an obvious one, but I have this…problem where if somebody asks me very nicely to do something for them, or to just take a real quick look at this one thing they wrote, I find it very hard to say no. We can, if we want, maybe blame this on the years I spent teaching or tutoring in one form or another, but now that I’m out in the big bad mercenary world of freelancing, free work is a no-go.

I simply can’t take on any more of it, because it invariably cuts into both writing time and paying freelancing time. I had whole months in 2015 when I didn’t touch Oath because of this.

So no more free work. Either you’re already part of my writing group, and we have a mutually beneficial arrangement, or you’re paying me. Otherwise, I’m very sorry, but my schedule simply does not permit that I give my time away anymore, if it ever actually did.

I will reduce the amount of crap in the office by at least fifty percent.

I have this frustrating tendency to hang onto things long after they’ve ceased being useful. Notes, outdated tech, tchotchkes—you name it, I probably have a stash of it around here somewhere. You know, just in case.

But what this means is that the office has a nasty tendency to accrete into a magnificent shitpile, and no amount of organizing or straightening things will fix it.

So basically I’m ringing in the new year by hauling off and pitching out all kinds of crap. If it’s not useful to me and it isn’t actively improving my life in some way, it goes away. Simple as that.

I will give myself some time to relax every day.

This probably sounds counterintuitive, given my lazy-ass brain’s addiction to downtime, but as with Skyrim and Netflix, it’s a question of degrees.

Yes, relaxing is good. But not all the time. Yes, working is good. But, again, not all the damn time. That’s how you burn out—and I know this because I’ve burned myself out a couple of times over the last three and a half years. There have been days when I’ve been in the chair for 12-15 hours straight, staring at the page, refusing to walk away from it even if I was making no progress.

Not even for a walk around the block to clear my head. Not even to shake the words out of my fingers and simply let my brain vent some heat on a game or a bit of mindless entertainment. The end result, as I imagine you can guess, was not pleasant.

So if I’m going to write every day, there also has to be a period of downtime every day.

I don’t care if it’s fifteen minutes watching cat videos, or going for a walk in the morning, or taking that hour before bed to read, or whatever. I will make myself take time for myself—and hopefully keep my internal batteries better charged.

So that’s the general idea.

These are the things I’ll be actively working on in the new year (in addition to, you know, making this site a little less of a trainwreck).

How about you, my magnificent internet horde?

Have any big plans for the new year?

 

Site Changes Ahoy (And an Oath Update)

It’s been a minute since I posted an update last. Well, more than a minute. Like six or seven months worth of minutes, actually.

However, as with the last post, this one brings tidings!

In short, Oath of Blood is now with my editor. She and I had a frank and forthright conversation on the phone about it, and the rough estimate at the moment is that she’ll need two to three months to give it the going-over it merits. I realize all of us (myself included) want this book to move forward as fast as possible, but the editor has plenty of other stuff on her plate right now, and she very graciously offered to take the manuscript immediately instead of deferring until the next full opening in her schedule.

She deserves about a skwillion medals for that alone, to say nothing of dealing with my shenanigans in general.

So now we wait, and when she gets back to me with what changes are required to take this thing over the finish line (and I’m sure there will be changes), I will get to work on those immediately.

In more technical news, I will soon be migrating to a new webhost, and to the WordPress format. I’m still working out the details, but sometime within the next month or two, the site will change rather dramatically.

That means any or all of the following may happen:

  • ​There may be periods of downtime while I get all the parts and pieces jangled into place. If you navigate over this way and you get some hot mess or, worse, no site at all, FEAR NOT. I am still here. I am probably just busy yelling at the computer or navigating a tech support labyrinth.
  • Some of the old content here may migrate, but some of it might not. In fact, it may well be that none of it migrates. In that case, if you roll up on this website in a month or two and there’s little to no blog content, again, FEAR NOT. I am working on it. There will be some solution forthcoming to make sure the old blog content is available, but it may not be immediate.
  • The new site may look ugly and weird for a little while. This is just a consequence of my learning a new platform. The wrinkles will smooth out as time passes, and as the ratio of time spent getting things to work and time spent bellowing at my screen evens out.

Right now, that’s about all there is to report. The next update will probably coincide with the markups coming back from the editor, or with the site change, whichever comes first.

Oath of Blood Update & Such

I’m a bit behind on the updates here regarding the book, but never fear: things are progressing in a much better way than my terrible blogging habits would suggest.

The manuscript has been with the beta readers for about the last week or so, and I’ve asked them to get it back to me by middling May if possible. Life being what it is, a few of them may take a bit longer than that, as they have their own lives, work, and writing to deal with, but yes—the book is now, for the time being, out of my hands and before the eyeballs of the brave folks who have volunteered to do the hard work of helping root out any lingering problems.

Once they’re done with the manuscript, I’ll be back in it, fixing up the places where they’ve found issues. I’m sure they’ll find at least a healthy few: by the time I sent the thing their way—all 412 standard pages of it—I was so word-blind I couldn’t even spot my own typos. So for the time being, I’m keeping my eyeballs off the text and my hands off the keyboard, at least as far as Oath is concerned. The break will help me reclaim some of my sanity and objectivity, both of which have wandered off to parts unknown and failed to leave a note.

In the meantime, I have ongoing outside work this month, as well as a couple of new projects due to hit my inbox in the next month. Between the work, I’m finally shoveling out of the heap of chaos that has become the office of late. When that’s done, I plan to start on outlining and planning for the next book—you know, like you do.

Also on my mind is a possible retool of this website, though I haven’t yet decided what form that may take. So if you see changes in the near future, that’s just me pushing the furniture around, looking for a new look, layout, or arrangement that suits me. Some sections may condense or combine, some may go away, and new stuff may emerge. We shall see.

Till then, or till further news about the book, here’s a picture of my cats sitting with the manuscript.

8648107_orig

See No Evil: Thoughts on the Clean Reader App

By now, you’ve probably heard of Clean Reader, the app that scrubs your eBooks of profanity in the name of providing a squeaky-clean, swear-free reading experience.

(If you’ve not, go Google it real quick; I’ll wait.)

::Jeopardy Theme Music::

(Back? Good deal. Let us continue.)

A great deal of e-ink has already been spilled over whether Clean Reader should do what it does. I tend to fall into the camp that argues that no, it shouldn’t be editing the swears out of your books as you read them. I believe that texts, as published, occupy a particular place in culture, history, and time, and that attempting to “clean them up” such that they comply with one particular moral or ethical standard is both dishonest and dangerous.

I apply that principle equally to things that don’t offend me as well as to things that do. I would no sooner see racism, homophobia, and sexism (things that offend me) covered up in a text than I would see profanity, same-sex relationships, and blasphemy (things that don’t offend me) cut out.

My personal take, for what it’s worth, is that a text ought to be read the way it’s written, for better or for worse. If it’s ugly, by Crom and by Erlik, I want to see its ugliness.

But this raises the question: does that mean I, as an author, can keep you from doing something different with anything of mine that you may own?

Generally speaking, no. If you’ve bought something I wrote, the physical copy you own is now your property. You can do whatever you like with it, so long as you don’t interfere with my ability to profit from it. So you can write nasty comments in the margins, scribble out words you don’t like, decoupage your desk with it, wipe your ass with it, and more.

You can give it away, sell it, throw it in the trash. You can read it or not. You can read it backwards, perhaps summoning Satan. You can read every other word. You can use the pages in an erotic papercut session with your full-time (and enthusiastically consenting) Gorean love slave. You can cut it up to use the letters to create creepy serial killer messages.

Whatever. It’s your property now. Have fun. Just don’t go making unauthorized copies of it or selling your fanfic or whatever.

With eBooks, it can get a bit trickier. By and large, eBooks tend to be licensed, rather than sold, which makes them a lot like software. You pay for the license to download, keep, and use them, but you often don’t properly own them.

Some folks are claiming that because of this, what Clean Reader does is illegal because you haven’t actually made that all-important First Purchase. Other folks are saying that because Clean Reader changes the text as displayed, rather than in the file itself, and because you can choose to turn off the profanity filtering, it doesn’t constitute a change, edit, etc. under the law.

Me? I don’t know. I was a fuckin’ English major, dude, not a law student.

But just for shits and giggles here, let’s suppose that what Clean Reader does is entirely, 100% legal, and that even if authors don’t like it, there is damn little we can do about it. Let’s suppose, too, that readers have the right to protect themselves from content they consider morally reprehensible, and to protect their children from it, and that this right trumps the right of authors to insist that their work not be reft of its swears.

I realize you may not agree, but just play the thought experiment game with me for a bit.

Because here’s the thing about Clean Reader: even if all of that is completely true, it can’t protect you from my writing.

It can’t protect you, an adult, from any writer’s work.

And it can’t protect your kids.

Oh, sure, you might not see profanity in the text, or you may not see explicit references to sexy body parts or to blasphemous utterances. But those things are only a small part of what makes a story’s content “adult.”

By way of an example, I had a short story published in an indie Sword & Planet anthology a few years ago. If memory serves, I don’t think anybody cussed once in that story—or if they did, it was incredibly minor. A damn here, a hell there. Nothing big. In that regard, it was pretty “safe.”

But that same story included, among other things, a less-than-heroic protagonist, rampant killing, a healthy measure of nudity, some good old-fashioned blasphemy, a vigorous attempt at human sacrifice, and other things guaranteed to fluster the Pat Pullings and Tipper Gores of the world.

Consequently, though it was fairly “clean” by profanity standards, I personally wouldn’t hand that story to a kid to read—not because I’m somehow ashamed of it, but because I didn’t write it for kids. I wrote it for grown-assed adults, and my intent shone through in the events and people of the tale itself, above and beyond the individual words selected for the telling.

The same is true of the manuscript I’m currently preparing to send my editor’s way. There’s not one F-bomb in Oath of Blood, but if somebody came to me and asked if it was appropriate for their kid, I’d probably tell them no.

A really mature kid in junior high or beyond? Maybe. That same kid, if their parents tend to have frank discussions with them about tough, ugly topics? Sure, if the parents are cool with it. But a kid whose parents are so worried that their virginal eyes might–gasp—light upon a swear that they got themselves an app to prevent it?

Not just no, but fuck no.

Because I assure you, dudes and dudettes: if you’re that worried about whether my characters cuss, you’re going to be way more worried about the rest of the things they do.

A swear-scrubbing app like Clean Reader won’t keep you from witnessing a character butcher another character in cold blood. It won’t keep you safe from priests who are anything but godly—even the ones who number among the “good guys.” It won’t save you from characters who get blitzed and bang out of wedlock, or idly consider taking physical advantage of one another. It won’t keep you insulated from the fact that my characters live and slay and die in a world where their lives mean nothing to those in power and where the gods are silent at best, ugly fiction at worst.

So I have to ask you: does any of that turn your stomach?

If so, I don’t condemn you. You have the right to be offended. But if those ideas offend you, an app like Clean Reader won’t make my work any less offensive. It won’t make my work something you could give to your kid with a clear conscience.

It won’t do those things because it can’t. Swears or not, those things will burrow into your mind’s eye if you read, and you will see them. If I’ve done them well, they may disturb you, or make you question things you once thought beyond questioning. But they will surely, at minimum, offend you.

The only thing that can keep you and yours safe from that is not reading my shit.

And I’m okay with that, personally. If you think something I wrote is going to do you some kind of harm, or offend you, or put you in a weird place when your kid asks you about something my characters did or said, then please–and I say this with the utmost sincerity–go read something else, and go with my blessing.

But don’t fool yourself into thinking adult content is only swear-deep.