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Sticky Post: How to Help

(thanks, jbru for showing how to sticky note!)

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Catherynne M. Valente's work, she is most famous for her gorgeous fairy tales (Orphan's Tales, Vol. I & II), which won the prestigious Tiptree award and her skinpunk revolution, Palimpsest. She was featured in MTV News' documentuary on the Steampunk movement and is a beloved member of the convention scene.

This economy has been difficult for everyone, but it's been especially difficult for those in creative lines of work. As you may know, Catherynne M. Valente's (catvalente) fiance, justbeast was laid off six months ago. While they have both been working diligently since then, Cat on her writing and D trying to pick up freelance work, the cold hard fact is right now it's not enough.

Cat and D are in rather dire straits as Cat describes here.

We need each other, folks. If we are going to practice what we preach about being a community, we as artists and dreamers need to hold each other up when things get hard. And things have gotten hard for Cat and D, so we need to help hold them up too.

How You Can Help:

1. Join the Omikuji Project.

2. Buy E-Books or Steampunk Tales Issue One.

3. Sign up for The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland (TBA)

4. Put an item or service, no matter how big or small, up for auction on this journal for people to bid on. Bids will be conducted in the comments and payment and shipping is to be determined by the seller. Here's how.

5. Buy things in listed for auction!

6. Donate.

7. Spread the word.

Help Catherynne M. Valente

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Help Catherynne M. Valente

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Facebook: The Omikuji Project & The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland & Catherynne Valente Fan Group

Your mod is corvaxgirl, please address community issues with her. popelizbet is our gracious co-mod, she specializes in auction related issues, especially tagging.


Herself says there will be a redesign. We won this one. Thank all of you for your part in that.

Next time it may not be Cat Valente...as I mentioned in my own letter, names like Nnedi Okorafor and Justine Larbalestier have had to cope with this in the not so distant past either, and I'm willing to bet there are a teeming host of less-known, less-clout-having, writers put in this position.

It is my sincere hope that, having saved The Habitation of the Blessed from whitewashing, that you will find yourselves willing the next time...and the next time...and the next time...until we convince the various industries that whitewashing is racism and racism is not okay.

It is my sincere belief that you will, because you are the Mythpunk Army, and generally on the side of Awesome.

My love, and sincerest thanks, to all of you. Again, see you at Strowlerfest (and if you need a roommate, let me know, I'm looking for one.)

Blessings upon all your heads from your humble and infinitely grateful servant, popelizbet. "Honey flows in our land, and milk everywhere abounds" - and vegan cupcakes rise for the rest. See you at the Fairyland release party if I don't see you before that.
crossposted from onaleopard

Once upon a time, there was (or perhaps there wasn't) a man named Prester John.

A good bit more recently than that, your friend and mine, Catherynne M. Valente, wrote a book - the first of three - about Prester John and the kingdom he found when he went looking. Being a book by Catherynne M. Valente, it is beautiful and gorgeous and lush, full of awesome scholarship and heartbreakingly beautiful prose. It tells stories other than John's. It takes place in a part of the world where no one was white, and so neither are the characters you meet. It has creatures - fantastical creatures and people that will excite you when you finally get to read about them.

The book is being released by Night Shade Books. Their website has this to say about their mission:

Night Shade Books is dedicated to publishing quality books from a broad spectrum of genres. Writing that inspires a sense of awe and wonder. Writing that explores the fantastic. Writing that at once challenges and redefines a reader's expectations. These are the guiding principles at Night Shade Books.

This is the proposed cover.

Cat placed the cover up for comment. It's clear to me from her comments that she has discussed some of the problems and they are not listening to her. She already asked them to change the whitewashed characters, knowing her fandom doesn't play that. Their response was to make the woman whose partially disembodied, naked form takes up the background, dark-haired rather than blonde.

The cautious neutrality she's exhibiting toward this cover is nothing like the full-of-squee Cat I remember from the Palimpsest cover post. In my experience, when Cat loves something, she gets Muppet-dance levels of excited about it. After years of hearing her express her passion for the Prester John project, "cautious neutrality" towards the cover is not what I expected - nor comments distancing herself from the cover design by expressly noting she had no input because of the aforesaid not-listening and continued fail.

Despite the 150+ LJ comments on the cover, many of them negative, citing everything from poor cover design, confusing and off-putting fonts, the miniscule size of her name on the cover, the weird perspective on the central figure's hands, the central figure's weird resemblance to China Miéville, the unreadable title, the crowded, busy cover - as far as I know, no further changes are planned.

As you may have guessed by this point, I have read The Habitation of the Blessed. I loved each and every word of it, and it is beautiful and perfect, and when it is in the world, you will love it too, I am almost sure, even if you have to love it in spite of the face its publisher currently seems intent on giving it. This is like going to a High Church christening with a friend who sent her baby in the other car with the relatives, and getting to the altar with her to find that someone has ignored the available gown and instead dressed the hapless infant in a rayon clown suit - nothing about this is appropriate, all of it is horrifying.

I do not understand this. I do not know how you get what is essentially the world's most committed pro bono focus group together, have them tell you things like "Looks too European for a Prester John novel" - "Like a fanmade reprint of some book from fifty years ago" - "[The font choices] make the book look cheap" - and fifty thousand comments complaining that the title and author's name are illegible or difficult to read - and on top of all that "I have to be honest, my first reaction was that this book is about a Boring White Guy with a Magical Exotic Lady Assistant" - I don't know how you read all that and do not whip yourself into a froth of product improvement, I truly do not.

You cannot claim out of one side of your mouth to showcase writing that challenges and redefines reader's expectations, while packaging your product in such a way that it partakes in some of the most depressingly predictable and harmful practices for which your genre and industry is sadly notorious. (Or, more accurately, you can, but it adds "staggering hypocrisy" to the list of unflattering adjective phrases that can justly be applied to this conduct.)

I get upset if something put out there under my imprimatur is less than perfect. But even from a pure bidness perspective, I cannot imagine reading variations on a theme of "Really really terrible" - or even "I love it, but..." and "Meh" - and not wanting to make it better. I would be ashamed of myself if I put a thing to press with people who take a vested interest in the author's work telling me they will be excusing the cover to their friends, or covering it in brown paper before reading it in public, because it's just that unappealing and offensive to them.

Then again, I don't understand anyone who could look at a brand that includes this, this, this and this, read a book that includes blemmyae and panotti and no white people, fully populated with characters of color, written by an author whose last work of this type won the Tiptree and, after stroky-beard meetings, say YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD BE AWESOME? GENERIC MEDIEVAL. WITH WHITE PEOPLE ON THE COVER. LET'S MAKE THE TITLE ILLEGIBLE TOO AND THE WHITE CHICK CAN BE ALL EXOTIC AND STUFF - AND ALSO NAKED. THAT'LL SELL COPIES. LIKEWISE PUTTING THE HUGO-NOMINATED AUTHOR'S NAME IN TINY TYPE ON A BUSY FIELD. WIN! WE HAVE DONE A GOOD JOB TODAY.

That, to me, is the basic definition of a losing formula. Not only does whitewashing perpetuate racism, the people who want the book most are telling NSB, quite loudly, that this cover is the wrong choice for that and all other kinds of reasons, just like the author tried to do, and they are still, apparently, not listening. This is not in line with what they taught me in college about how to successfully sell things, which involves a lot of "listen to customers" and "be responsive to feedback" and "make sure your packaging is attractive to your core base." (What do I know? I'm just a reader...a reader who tends to shy away from books that look like they're about Exotic Othering, Titties and White Heroes In European Fantasyland, when I don't know they're written by people who don't write those kinds of books.) *The action of covering a book full of characters of color with pictures of white people, throwing some mehndi and eyeshadow on one of them, is fully an exercise and manifestation of staggering privilege, not a shrewd decision or anything that "inspires a sense of awe and wonder."

The mehndi lady keeps making me choke out in impotent rage. I've read this book. The one character she could possibly represent is the woman in yellow. The woman in yellow? Has red-brown skin. And wears yellow. And is not running around naked and white covered in mehndi being partially disembodied and in the background behind Prester John like an Exotic Lady Assistant, let me tell you what.

This is infuriating. Everything about this is infuriating - the short shrift given to Cat's name, the slapdash, garish, busy design, the utter lack of congruity between the book and its cover, the way in which the cover represents every trope the book subverts, the gross departure from the look and feel of a Valente novel, the cheap appearance...the fucking whitewashing...it's just bad. I saw my friend saying, over and over, that they weren't listening to her. This is not what I am used to when the newest Valente cover comes out. I expect HOORAY JOY HAPPY from the comments section, not "What is this? What is happening? Why can't I read the title? Why are Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and some white lady who went a little overboard at the MAC counter and the "henna tattoo" shop at the mall running amok in Prester John's kingdom?" It's like a bad dream. It's like they fed this book to the Opposite Machine and put the results on the cover.

I talked to s00j. She will share her own thoughts soon enough about the cover, but she did share this gem from another Strowler friend: "I hate the font. It makes the whole thing look cheap." -Sean-Michael Argo, director. So even people who aren't passionately on a leopard, but know something about design, can see this is the whole cloth from which bad idea jeans are cut.

It may have been then that I decided to write my own Letter - one For Prester John, rather than From him. An e-mail, anyhow. And over the weekend and on into next week, I'd like to encourage you to send an e-mail, too. You can post your e-mail after you send it in comments, if you like, although if you have reviewed an ARC, please don't spoil folk in the comments.

I'm writing a Letter for Prester John, because this book deserves better than this. I hope you will write one too.

I'm not threatening to boycott this book, and unless you must, I hope you won't either, because it is wonderful.

I am explaining to the publisher that I have read this book, and find the cover an utter disappointment. That the cover does not look like a serious work by a serious author. That the confusing, busy design is the kind of thing that makes me put a book down in the bookstore, not look more closely. That it makes very little sense that the author's name is so tiny in proportion to the cover when she is currently getting nominated for and winning all kinds of fancy awards. That whitewashing is deeply wrong, and oppressive, and that this book cover feels like a slap in the face and People Who Will Not Buy A Book With A Person of Color On the Cover Are Not Going to Stay In This Fandom So Why the Fuck Are We Catering To Them When That Is Not What Cat Valente Is About In This World Or Any? That Whitewashing and Unreadable Cover is not only wrong, but is going to hang around their neck like a millstone of failure for a long time. Only without saying fuck. Even once.

I am not making any threats, save that I am aware that these are Night Shade's decisions, not Ms. Valente's, and that I will not encourage anyone I know looking for a publisher to work with Night Shade Books in the future, and that I am likely to continue to discuss this decision in most unfavorable terms for a long time to come.

If you are a writer, and you choose to write to Night Shade, and you feel similarly about the possibility that one day it might be your book full of characters of color with Unrelated White People on the cover, maybe with some incongruous nudity and generic exoticism thrown in, it might not hurt to mention that fact to them.

If you are planning to review The Habitation of the Blessed in your online space - especially if you are one of the people who helped vaunt Palimpsest up to the highest echelon of the genre when the Big Name Publisher fired the publicist responsible for promoting it, which could have doomed it to oblivion - let them know, politely, that their choices have been noted and will likely be the subject of present or future public comment.

If you discuss things like whitewashing and the representation of bodies in your online work and you are going to comment on this latest in a long line of industry failures, tell them so.

If you have a shelf full of Cat Valente books and the thought of putting this one next to them makes you want to start singing "One Of These Things (Is Not Like the Other)" - tell them so. If you are planning to buy copies of this book in the Christmas season and you're going to feel the need to say out loud "They couldn't have made a worse cover if they tried, but the story is amazing" - tell them so. In writing. If you couldn't read the title without looking twice or three times - spill it.

In whatever way this choice is going to affect your behavior, tell them so.

Be specific about the problems - the font, the disappearing author's name, the egregious whitewashing. This is a small press we're dealing with, folks. Ten emails look like twenty. Twenty-five emails look like fifty or a hundred.

E-mail goes to jlassen AT nightshadebooks.com. Damn the Man. Save the Kingdom. "Honey flows in our land, and milk everywhere abounds." See you at Strowlerfest.

Signal Boost [x-posted from saveours00j]

Raising funds to help Phoenix Marie get urgently needed medical treatment.

cat's honeymoon clusterf*ck--halp!

If you haven't been following Cat's LJ, she and Beast had a lovely wedding which has segued into a nightmare of a honeymoon, thanks to the jackasses at Expedia. See this post for a decent summary and how to help. They need about $900 to get un-stranded. Thanks all, and keep boosting the signal.

want to help Cat help others?

First, some news of interest to everyone: did you hear that Fairyland and a sequel</a> have been purchased for publication? It's Cat's first YA sale and she's very excited about it, so be sure to go congratulate her (and, of course, to buy it for all the children in your life as soon as it's out!)

Because catvalente is awesome, she's got an offer in the save_dave auction - another Internet auction, this time to save a guy named Dave's house & land from foreclosure. If you have ever wanted to have lunch with award-winning author and all-around awesome human Catherynne M. Valente...here's your chance.

Happy bidding! And thank you for adoptingcat.
Hey all! Just a reminder that my auction for the red rosebud and crystal hair clip is ending TONIGHT at midnight (eastern time!!)

Here are a few better pictures, as promised! :).

Two more pictures under here...Collapse )

So pretty in person and in your hair - perfect for cons and faires and such or even just everyday magic :). Clip is very similar to one I sent Cat herself! Only three bids so far so get in there!

Bid here please! Thank you :).

Darkover novel auction ending

The offer of a signed, first edition hardcover edition of THE ALTON GIFT ends tonight, midnight California time.

Cover price is $25.95; minimum bid $10.00.

Here's the original entry: http://community.livejournal.com/adoptingcat/18502.html
This auction is for one of my red rosebud and crystal quartz hair clips. This one is much like the one I sent catvalente for her birthday!

These hairclips were inspired by one of my very favorite fairy tales, 'The Fairies.' It has many different names, but the inspiration was this -

"And for that simple kindness," said the fairy, "I mean to give you a precious gift. Whenever you open your mouth to speak, flowers and jewels will fall from your lips." - from the fairy tale

I always loved the idea of a mixture of jewels and flowers (though I'm not sure I would have wanted them to fall from my lips everytime I spoke!) and that's what I tried to create in these clips. I apologize for the blurry pictures, I only have access to my phone at the moment! They look much better in person and especially in one's hair :). You can see better pictures of a few different clips on my store on etsy, Ashes of Roses Designs, and also pictures of how they look in hair!

This is one of my larger size clips and is a red rosebud surrounded with leaves. At the center of the clip is a large-ish clear quartz crystal. There's also wire with little crystal beads and two square rose quartz beads. Everything is attached with wire.

The clip itself measures about 4 inches long, the entire hair piece measures about 6 and 1/4 inches long, not counting that bit of wire that extends out beyond the last leaf.

I'm going on a bit of a vacation, so this auction won't end until July 4th, 2009 at midnight. I'll try to get to a computer and post a reminder sometime between now and then as well!

My Email: silenscarmina@gmail.com

Minimum Bid: $10.00 (shipping is on me!)

Auction Ends: July 4th, 2009 at midnight (EST)

Thanks all! :).

Last 2 days

I goofed and posted here: http://community.livejournal.com/saveours00j/39364.html

For auction:
One print copy of Nikolai

James Ligatos is a man with an unusual hobby. He turns promising young criminals into world leaders. His latest project is Nicholas Boyd, formerly Nikolai of the Revenant street gang. But the little killer-turned-file-clerk is much more than Ligatos and his staff bargained for.

As Kentucky attempts to secede from the Confederated States of America and rejoin the United States, Nick's skills and the group's training are put to the ultimate test, and the price of failure is death

The e-book retails for $6.99


One print copy of Niko-Chan, the sequel to Nikolai.

This is my newest. It releases as e-book June 27. NO ONE has seen this except me and the editors. (the printing will be done through CreateSpace. Print is not generally available for this title)


Blurb: Nick Boyd passed his Test, a grueling challenge to prove his worthiness to serve James Ligatos, one of the ruling cabal called The Eight. Now, he finds himself swept from his native Memphis to The Eight's training compound outside of Rome.

In the city called The Great Harlot, Nick must learn new lessons, from the mysterious Mistress Benta, from his tutor, Steven, and from the imposing Master Michelino. When he fails to learn fast enough, he is sold to become a Daughter of the Dragon...

It currently stands at $25 for both books.

Reminder: trilobite hat.

Here's your last chance to bid on a trilobite hat! Auction ends tonight, 6/25, at midnight CDT.