On April 11, inexplicably, my sales in the UK quadrupled!
Usually when this happens, I can do a Google search and find the triggering event, such as a good review. I like to try to find those, when I can, so I can drop a note to the person who reviewed, or blogged, to thank them for the signal boost. But this time, there seemed to be nothing identifiable. Just, suddenly, a bunch of people in the UK decided to buy my books. They bought all four volumes, as well. It makes me wonder if there’s a book-discussion group in Islington, nattering about Rowan over tea and biscuits at this very moment.
But the search also revealed a number of spurious sites purporting to allow you to read or download the books For! Free! There are always a few of these around, but interestingly, this time they were mostly located in the Netherlands. Why? Beats me. Usually it’s Russia that has the freebie pirate sites. But for one day, it was the Netherlands. Most of them have vanished now — or have stopped using my name as a come-on, which renders them invisible to me.
(If you’re ever tempted by these sites, be smart and don’t do it. Seriously, if they’re not even charging you, then they are almost certainly just trying to get you to click so they can infect you with evil malware.)
In other news: Hey, a friend of mine wrote a book! Okay, plenty of my friends write books. But this one is different because…it’s a diet book. Not fiction. It’s The Sustainable Weight Loss Lifestyle, by Brian Bambrough, who some of you may know, as he is a longtime pal of mine, and can often be found at conventions and SFnal gatherings.
Now, I can’t actually endorse the book, as I haven’t applied its principles in my own life, but I can tell you that it’s crammed with real information. Brian is a nerd’s nerd, and he backs up everything, even including links to the relevant biomedical journal articles. And formulas! And charts. (Although, you can also skip the formulas, if you are so inclined.) Also, if you really hate the way most diet books try to cajole you, and manipulate you, and slather on pop-psychology slogans in an attempt to motivate you — well, you won’t find that in Brian’s book. Just the facts. So, it might be just what you’ve been looking for…
(Brian is also the author of Problem Solving in Life Contingencies, which, despite the title, is not a motivational book, but a textbook on actuarial mathematics. Not currently available, according to Amazon. Also, no reviews…)
Other stuff I’ve been up to (besides writing): reading up on wilderness medicine, because: hey, Steerswomen. If we’re going to spend any time at the Steerswomen’s Academy, I’d better make sure I know what I’m talking about.
I now know (for example) three different ways to remove a fish-hook from human flesh, including a particularly neat method that I had never heard of before. I’m using Wilderness Medicine, by William Fogery, but there seem to be plenty of books available on the subject. And most of them have Kindle versions, which strikes me as odd, given that the time when you’d most need the book is when you are in the actual wilderness. Where there are no ebook charging plugs available, generally.
Plus: I finally finished reading Marina Abramović’s autobiography. Whatever one might think of avant-garde performance art, this is a woman who has led an extremely unusual and interesting life. And she serves as a very good example of being completely devoted to your craft, whatever that craft might be. And a good example of someone who tries to view the world from a completely different angle.
Some of her performance pieces sound, frankly, appalling and needlessly brutal, and some sound self-consciously random and overly clever. But others are startling and profound; and still others are quiet and oddly moving. Her most famous work, of course, was The Artist is Present.
Here are some exercises she gave to her students:
COMPLAINING TO A TREE: Hold a tree and complain to it, for a minimum of fifteen minutes. (I admit to finding this rather attractive.)
OPENING THE DOOR: For three hours, very slowly open a door, neither entering nor exiting. After three hours the door is not a door anymore. (I’m not sure I can find three hours to spare for this.)
SLOW-MOTION EXERCISE: For the entire day, do everything very slowly: walking, drinking water, showering. Peeing in slow motion is very difficult, but try.
I can’t help comparing her to Navarth, the mad poet from Jack Vance’s Demon Princes. Except that he was something of a charlatan (though a true artist despite that), while she is most definitely in earnest.
Lastly: You know that Jo Walton has a Patreon supporting her poetry, right? I’m a supporter, and I do love her poems, generally. But her most recent one absolutely knocked my flat and made me shed real tears. It’s a sestina — a rhymed sestina — called “The Grief of Apollo,” based on events from her novel The Philosopher Kings. I’d reproduce it here, but — nope. It’s hers, and you really should consider signing up for her Patreon. Then you’d be able to get all her poems.
A buck per poem. Small price for real tears, say I.