Thanks, UK. Plus: WTF Netherlands? And random other news.


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.



18 Responses to “Thanks, UK. Plus: WTF Netherlands? And random other news.”

  • RogerBW Says:

    Long-time fan, recent reader, first-time commenter.

    If those wilderness medicine books aren’t pretty recent, chances are the original print run has mostly sold out, what’s left was pulped, and nobody thought it was worth the cost (setup, inventory) of setting up another run. But storing an electronic copy for sale is so close to free as makes no odds: not only do a few megabytes of disc space cost so little as to be lost in the noise, there’s no inventory tax. Doesn’t matter whether it makes sense to have it electronically – though an ereader and some solar panels are probably lighter than two books – it makes economic sense to have it available that way.

  • Lindig Says:

    Hey hey,nice to hear from you, and yay for the high UK sales for whatever reason.
    Speaking of kindle-like things: I understand the allure of them but will probably never get one (real books can also be toilet paper and fire starter in the wilderness) UNLESS book 5 is only going to be released as an e-book. Is this true? Saw it in someone’s comment somewhere. If so, I may have to get a kindle just so I can read it. Sigh. I’d actually rather have a pdf and then I could print it out myself. Yes, of course, I’d pay for it—is that possible.
    Crooked Timber is having a seminar on Jo Walton’s Plato books.
    Let’s hope for continued quaduplication of sales.

    • Khavrinen Says:

      If you want to read a book that’s only available in e-book edition, you don’t need to buy a new device unless you don’t even have a smart phone, because the Kindle app is free. Not only that, but you can even use the online version to read e-books on the same computer/laptop you used to comment here.

      As far as the “no charging plugs in the wilderness” problem, haven’t you heard about the BioLite stove? A camping stove that charges your devices and boils your water at the same time: .

      • Lindig Says:

        I don’t even have a smartphone so . . . I’m not a Luddite, really! I just don’t need one. My biggest beef with e-books is that you don’t own the book; it’s leased to you and can be taken away at any time. I’ll stick with paper.

        • RogerBW Says:

          Lindig, that’s one of the reasons why piracy continues to thrive: it’s not necessarily that it’s cheaper than a legitimate copy of the book or film or TV season, it’s that the user gets an honest file download that they can back up, lend to a friend, move from one device to another, all without having to pay for it all over again.

          I know a number of people who make a point of buying an official copy of something (to be legal, and because it’s the best hope of getting some money to the actual creator) but who actually use the pirated version because it’s a better experience. Until more publishers see sense and stop treating their customers as thieves, piracy will continue to be far more widespread than it needs to be.

          • Rosemary Kirstein Says:

            RogerBW, and Lindig —

            All my books are DRM free. That means that you can back it up, move it to another device, lend to a friend — your choice. As far as I’m concerned, you bought that file, it’s yours. So,if you’re worried that Amazon might snatch it off your Kindle, keep a backup copy somewhere on your computer.

            And some traditional publishers also release their ebooks with no DRM these days, as a matter of principle — Tor Books, for example.

            The downside of this, of course, is that books that are DRM-free are much easier to pirate. But I choose to stand by my principles, even if it does expose me to possible thievery.

  • Walter Underwood Says:

    Taking a Wilderness First Aid course is probably worth it. The good ones are scenario-based, where you actually practice the skills under pressure.

    WFA is a 16 hour course. The Boy Scouts require it for some outings, so the training is pretty widely available.

    WFA is not just for the wilderness. The original course, “When Help is Delayed”, was for when first responders were overwhelmed or more than 30 minutes away. Like in a big snow storm.

  • Charlie Russel Says:

    Having wilderness medicine books in Kindle format makes perfect sense. My Oasis weighs less and takes up less space than most paperbacks, plus it can hold _thousands_ of books, including survival related topics. A full charge will last for weeks, and recharge with a small solar panel is trivial. Oh, and it has a search function to make quickly finding a solution snap.

    As for the Netherlands? Shame!! And the UK? Good on you!

  • Job Says:

    Hello Rosemary,
    It saddens me that my country drew your attention in such a negative way. It happens to coincide with me buying all four books as a present for my sister and, solipsistically, I can’t help but think that this was picked up by some algorithm that concluded that your books are good bait. I’m going to scan my computer for spyware right away!

    • Rosemaryk Says:

      Job —

      If you purchased the books through a legitimate bookseller’s website, I’m sure they didn’t add any spyware into the mix. They have a reputation to uphold! AS for that algorithm — I suppose I should take it as a compliment… You can only serve as bait if you’re actually desirable.

      And I’m sure that the Netherlands is a perfectly lovely place, and I hope to visit someday. Hey, I bet those nasty Russian pirates found a way to spoof the URL, and make it LOOK like a Netherlands address! Very clever…

      • Job Says:

        Oh I don’t suspect Smashwords of installing spyware on my system. But since you indicated that these pirate sites use ‘free’ ebooks as bait for malware, I thought maybe some spyware had noticed my purchase and ‘concluded’ that your books are suitable as bait. But that must be just a muddled post hoc ergo propter hoc fallicy (I admit I looked that up).

  • Jim DeWitt Says:

    Kindles in the wilderness: there is a “place to plug in” – the sun. For years, I have carried a fold-up solar panel that recharges camera batteries and my laptop computer in the wilderness. I’ve used the rig in 15-plus countries on three continents. If anyone needs details, let me know.

  • Brian Bambrough Says:


    Thanks so much for the plug of my book. I would just add that if your readers want to see how the SWLL works in practice, they can click on the link above and read the last chapter of the book. It chronicles my own struggles with weight. Since I changed my lifestyle, 17 years ago, my body mass index has always been below 25.

    As to my other book. It is a companion to a textbook published by the Society of Actuaries that is long since obsolete and out of print. My book was self-published in the days before there was self-publishing. The last time I sold a copy was in the 1970s. Amazon learned of its existence and linked it to the SWLL. There is such a thing as too much zeal.

  • Lindig Says:

    Okay, I’m going to figure out a way to get #5. I checked the AppStore at Apple, which has a kindle app but it only got 2 stars in reviews. I may just try to order it and see what happens. Thanks, Rosemary.

    • Rosemary Says:

      Well… if you’re just doing it to get Book 5 in the series, you don’t have to rush. Well, not yet. As the book isn’t done. Yet. (Sigh.)

      On the other hand, access to an ebook reader, even on one’s desktop, is not a bad thing.

      I assume you have a Mac? I’m a PC user, but I also have an iPad, and my Kindle app for that is a lovely thing indeed.

      • Lindig Says:

        I know, I have lots of time to figure this out. Yes, I’m a Mac person but I only have my laptop, no iPad, no iPhone, no smartphone, but I may have to get something “new” just to read your books. And I will.

  • Yves Meynard Says:

    Ah, Navarth! I couldn’t help but like the old fraud. And it took me at least three readings of the series before I finally understood the pun in his poem about Tim R. Mortiss. Which makes me wonder: has Readercon ever done a panel on imaginary poets in SF/F? Besides Navarth, there’s William Ashbless, but right now I can’t think of any others. Who am I missing?